Q&A: Is Baby Dehydrated?

My baby has a bad cold, and I'm worried that he isn't eating enough. How do I know if he's getting dehydrated?
save article
profile picture of Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA
By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Specialist
Updated February 26, 2017
Hero Image

These are the signs of a dehydrated baby:

•Two or fewer wet diapers in a 24-hour period

•Dry mouth/lips

•Wet diapers with urine that looks darker and smells stronger than usual


•No tears when he cries

If your baby shows any of these symptoms, give the pediatrician a call. She may want to check him out or suggest giving him an electrolyte drink. If baby hasn’t been drinking as much as usual but is acting pretty much normal and isn’t having any of these symptoms, stop worrying. Simply offer your breast often to give baby a chance to tank up (but don’t force him), and keep an eye out for the symptoms listed above. Baby isn’t super-likely to become dehydrated unless he’s having bad diarrhea and vomiting or if he’s not eating much at all due to a sore throat or other painful illness.

However, if baby shows signs of dehydration and has sunken eyes; cold, splotchy hands and feet; is incredibly sleepy or fussy; or the soft spots on his head seem to sink in, hit the emergency room ASAP. These are signals baby could be severely dehydrated and in need of IV fluids.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List