11 Signs Your Child is Dehydrated


Is you child drinking enough water? Is he dehydrated? How do you know? Listed below are 11 signs that indicate your child is severely dehydrated and needs immediate attention. Remember, dehydration in children should not be neglected!

It’s really important that you keep your child hydrated at all times, particularly when they are ill. Children are dehydrated when there isn’t sufficient fluid in their bodies for their smooth functioning. Children and adults need sufficient water in their systems to maintain body temperature, make bodily fluids and for routine functioning. If a child is severely dehydrated, it means he cannot replace body fluids by eating or drinking normally and will need hospitalization. Dehydrated kids can go through several chronic medical problems.

How can kids be dehydrated?

Children can be dehydrated:

  • If they over-exercise or do a lot of physical activity
  • Have severe diarrhoea or vomiting and fever
  • If they take diuretics or if they take some medications
  • They don’t drink enough water or liquids, particularly when ill
  • If they are below six months old
  • If they live in hot weather

Very little children and infants are at great risk of becoming dehydrated. If your baby is not six months of age yet or suffers from a prolonged or chronic illness, he could well be dehydrated.

Here are 11 signs that your child is dehydrated:

11 Signs Your Child is Dehydrated

1. He’s inexplicably cranky

If your child has his usual tantrums, all he needs is a glass of water to settle him. His crankiness or irritable nature is a good sign that he is mildly dehydrated. So, if you do find your child irritable, put it down to insufficient water in his system.


2. He gets tired easily

If you suddenly find your kid’s energy flagging, it could be due to an insufficient amount of water in his system that makes him dehydrated. So, restore the necessary water levels in his body without delay.

3. His athletic performance is affected

If your son weighs 27 kg, he could lose 2% body weight due to fluid deficiency. This can cause to a significant fall in stamina and muscular strength.

dehydration signs

4. He has constipation

Check that your child’s stools are dry and he finds it difficult to move them. This means he’s constipated, largely due to dehydration.

5. His skin is unusually dry

Is your child in diapers? Check his skin to see if it is dry because skin dryness and irritation mean that his skin lacks the required moisture. If he scratches his skin a lot, it means he needs to drink a lot of water. Also, check his lips for dryness and cracks. If you find these signs, it means he is badly dehydrated.

6. Does he complain of a headache?

Perhaps your child is older than infants and sometimes complains of a headache. The cause of this could well be school stress, constipation or allergies, but don’t rule out dehydration too. If you can’t pinpoint the reason, start treating the headache by giving him lots of water to drink and see if he gets some relief within the next couple of hours.


7. His cognitive function is hampered

If he records a fall in body water of up to three percent, it could badly impact his cognitive function. While playing sports, such a significant fall in body fluids could also have a negative impact on his ability to focus on the coach’s instructions or the game per se. Ensure that he never loses more body fluids more than 2%-3% as this could interfere with his ability to play a sport, or spread heat and could cause cardiovascular problems.

8. He doesn’t have the required focus

A lack of water in your child’s body might lead to insufficient amounts of the required oxygen from water. Since the body needs oxygen for breathing, a deficiency of it might make your child feel faint. The fact that he’s faint means that he the amount of oxygen reaching his brain isn’t enough for him to concentrate on simple tasks, or even in the classroom. This could lead to a decreased attention span and an overall poor academic performance.

9. He isn’t thirsty at all

If your child is thirsty or hungry, it means he’s dehydrated. However, as a responsible parent, you shouldn’t wait for your child to be thirsty until you give him some water to drink. When your child gets after you to give him something to eat, it could also be that he’s actually thirsty. At his tender age, it might be difficult for him to differentiate between feeling hungry or thirsty, so he can’t tell you how he feels. However, if you ensure your child eats on time every day, despite which he feels hungry, it could mean that he doesn’t get enough water or is dehydrated.

10. He passes little urine

If your child doesn’t urinate as much as normal levels dictate and it is dark and thick, it could mean a lot of fluid loss from his body. Your infant shows up a dry diaper for hours together, it means he is dehydrated. If he is still not six months old and doesn’t urinate at all for about four to six hours consecutively, or your toddler does not urinate in six to eight hours consecutively, it means he is dehydrated.

11. He breathes fast and has a rapid pulse

If your child shows up these symptoms, it means he is chronically dehydrated. He will also be less alert about his surroundings and will be generally dull and listless. He will have a dry mouth and he will display cracked lips, while his skin will be wrinkled and doughy.



To dehydrate your infant or child, give him a lot of fluids to drink, but in small sips. If he vomits, wait for 30 minutes or an hour after he vomits once before you give him a drink. The fluid should be given in a teaspoon, one at a time, every 2-3 minutes. If you are still nursing him, continue to breastfeed him but every hour or so and in small doses. Whatever you do, don’t delay in taking him to a paediatrician.