Q: How can I tell if my baby is dehydrated?

A: It's common for sick babies to become dehydrated, especially with an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If your baby's had diarrhea for more than a day, keep a close eye on him. Babies' bodies are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated from losing water and electrolytes when a stomach bug strikes. If these fluids are not replaced, your baby can become seriously ill. The main signs of dehydration include:

- Not having a wet diaper in 6 hours - Sunken eyes and/or a sunken soft spot on the head - Crying without making tears - Dry mouth with no drooling - Being extra sluggish or fussy - Being very thirsty

If you suspect that your baby is dehydrated, give him small but frequent doses of Pedialyte or other electrolyte solution. Follow the instructions on the package for your baby's age and weight. Your goal is to prevent your baby's output of fluids from exceeding his intake. This rehydration treatment will probably not stop the diarrhea, but it will keep your baby hydrated until the bug runs its course. As long as baby's able to eat, continue with your regular breastfeeding or bottle-feeding schedule (this helps keep your baby hydrated too). If your baby's condition worsens or doesn't get better over a few hours, call the pediatrician.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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