How do I keep my baby hydrated when sick?

Answered by Cody Janus

When your baby is sick and experiencing symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to keep them hydrated to prevent dehydration. Here are some tips to help keep your baby hydrated:

1. Offer small, frequent amounts of liquid: It’s best to start slow and give small amounts of liquid often. For babies under 1 year of age, you can use a spoon or syringe to give 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 mL) of an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), breastmilk, or formula every 5 to 10 minutes. This allows their little stomachs to handle the fluids better and reduces the risk of vomiting.

2. Use Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): ORS is a specially formulated solution that helps replace the lost electrolytes and fluids during illness. It is available at most pharmacies and can be given to babies as young as 2 to 3 months old. Follow the instructions on the package for mixing and administration.

3. Continue breastfeeding or formula feeding: If your baby is still breastfeeding or bottle-fed, continue offering breastmilk or formula alongside ORS. Breastmilk is an excellent source of hydration and provides essential nutrients to support your baby’s immune system. If your baby is refusing to breastfeed or bottle-feed, try offering smaller, more frequent feedings to encourage them to take in fluids.

4. Monitor urine output: One way to ensure your baby is adequately hydrated is by monitoring their urine output. Keep an eye on the number of wet diapers your baby has in a day. If they have fewer wet diapers than usual or their urine appears dark or concentrated, it may be a sign of dehydration.

5. Offer clear fluids: In addition to ORS, you can also offer clear fluids such as water, diluted fruit juice (without added sugar), or electrolyte drinks specifically made for infants. Avoid giving sugary drinks or sodas as they can worsen diarrhea.

6. Avoid giving certain fluids: It’s important to avoid giving your baby certain fluids that can worsen dehydration. These include plain water alone, sports drinks, tea, or coffee. These fluids do not contain the necessary electrolytes and can actually further dehydrate your baby.

7. Use a syringe or dropper for younger babies: For infants who are not yet able to drink from a cup, you can use a syringe or dropper to administer small amounts of fluids. Gently squirt the liquid into the side of their mouth, being careful not to cause choking.

8. Offer foods with high water content: If your baby is older than 6 months and has started solid foods, you can offer foods with high water content, such as pureed fruits and vegetables, soups, or yogurt. These foods can help supplement their fluid intake and provide additional nutrients.

Remember, it’s important to consult your pediatrician if your baby’s symptoms worsen or if you have any concerns about their hydration status. They can provide specific guidance based on your baby’s age and condition.

I hope these tips help you keep your baby hydrated when they are sick. Stay well!