Did you know dehydration can have serious consequences for babies and toddlers?
It’s extremely hot in South Africa at the moment and we are not getting any rain which makes it even worse. Some provinces are facing drought which is something to worry about.
It’s important to keep your kids hydrated the entire day especially if they active and monitor your newborn baby for any sign of dehydration.
Dehydration means that that fluid is leaving the body faster than it is being replaced. It’s important for parents to be able to recognise the signs of dehydration in babies and young children, as left untreated, it can have serious, even fatal consequences.
Dehydration can be caused by various factors including vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, or sweating. It’s quite common in babies and young children because they’re smaller and more sensitive to fluid loss. The problem is that when there’s not enough fluid in the body, it upsets the balance of minerals that enable all parts of the body to do their job properly.
What are the signs of dehydration in babies and children?
Any of these signs could indicate that a baby is dehydrated or is becoming dehydrated:
• A marked decrease in the number of wet nappies.
• Urine that looks darker and smells stronger than usual.
• A dry, parched mouth and lips and less elasticity in the skin.
• Fewer or no tears while crying.
• Eyes and fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of her head) appear sunken.
• Lethargy, excessive sleepiness or fussiness.
What’s the best way to treat dehydration in babies?
Prevention is always best, so if a child keeps vomiting or has a tummy bug, fluid intake should be topped up regularly. As babies are so vulnerable to dehydration, parents should get medical advice if they notice any of the symptoms or are in any way concerned. Severe cases of dehydration are usually treated in hospital where fluids and minerals are replenished via a drip. However, mild dehydration can usually be treated at home under the advice of a doctor.
Doctors often recommend an oral rehydration solution (ORS) in small and frequent doses to replenish lost fluids.
Most juices contain too much sugar, and water alone does not contain the correct balance of salts and sugars needed to restore electrolytes lost due to diarrhoea and the like. Having an appropriate balance of electrolytes in an oral rehydration solution is of the utmost importance to help stop dehydration.
REHIDRAT® is a good option as it is safe for babies older than 3 months and contains an optimal balance of sugars, salts and minerals to effectively treat dehydration and electrolyte loss due to gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. It contains no artificial preservatives, colourants or sweeteners and is available in 3 flavours – Blackcurrant, Orange and Vanilla. The Vanilla flavour is usually easily accepted by children as it was specially designed to taste sweeter.
Facts about babies and dehydration:
• Their little bodies have relatively small fluid reserves and a high metabolic rate that makes it easier for them to lose the water and electrolytes needed for the body to function.
• If fluids are not replaced, the outcome can be critical within a matter of days, so it is best to take action sooner rather than later.
• Babies and young children are less able to communicate verbally, so watch for the physical signs of dehydration.
• “Dehydration caused by diarrhoea is one of the biggest single killers of children in the modern world and diarrhoea itself is one of the major causes of nutritional loss and poor growth. This year, about 2.2 million children will die of dehydration caused by diarrhoea – 80% of them in the first two years of their life.”
• Even if a baby’s diarrhoea or vomiting continues, keep offering her small amounts of fluid at regular intervals as some will be retained in her body.
• Because sick babies often refuse to drink anything when they feel ill, some moms put the ORS solution into a syringe and squirt a small amount gently into the side of baby’s mouth. Care should be taken not to squirt the liquid into the back of the throat or squirt too much, too quickly as this may cause a baby to gag or choke.
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