Individuals of all ages can develop dehydration from excess loss of fluid but newborns are at higher risk for developing the condition. It is important to note that dehydration occurs due to the loss of fluid in the body through vomiting, sweating or diarrhea. Mild cases of dehydration can be easily treated by increasing the fluid intake but severe cases would require consulting a doctor so that appropriate measures can be carried out.
Take note that babies usually develop dehydration as a result of an infection that instigates a high fever or severe diarrhea or vomiting. In most cases of dehydration, the condition is not serious but in severe cases, it can be life-threatening in which babies must be given intravenous fluids to rehydrate the body. If you want to learn how to manage diarrhea and vomiting, click here.
A newborn who is dehydrated will cry without any tears. In reality, the baby may cry more than usual since the dehydration makes him/her irritable and cranky but as the condition progresses, tears are no longer produced since the body does not have enough fluids to generate anymore.
An obvious indication of dehydration among newborns is the lack of wet diapers. If the baby does not produce a wet diaper for 6-8 hours, he/she is dehydrated. In addition, a baby who only produces a small amount of urine that is darker than usual or has a strong odor than normal can be dehydrated. It is best to consult a doctor if the child has no wet diaper for more than 8 hours.
Lack of activity
Babies who are dehydrated appear less active than usual or can be lethargic or sleepy. In case a baby is extremely sleepy or difficult to wake, it can indicate severe dehydration and a doctor must be consulted right away.
Sunken soft spot
In case the soft spot in the head of the newborn is not yet sealed shut, it can provide a hint if he/she is dehydrated. A baby who is dehydrated can be easily identified since the soft spot can look sunken. As for the eyes, it can also appear sunken. If these are noted, you have to consult a doctor as soon as possible since these indicate severe dehydration that entails medical care.
Cool and dry skin
Once a newborn is dehydrated, the skin can feel cool and dry to the touch. The lips of the child can also appear dry or cracked. The hands and feet are cold to the touch and have splotchy coloring. These can indicate severe dehydration. If you are going to determine if the child is dehydrated, you can pinch the skin between the thumb and index finger. If the skin stays up in the pinched position after releasing the skin, it simply indicates that he/she is dehydrated.