With summer weather and its fun-filled activities around the corner, it is important to be aware of the causes and signs of dehydration in children. A combination of high and low impact movement facilitates water evaporation from our bodies. While a regular diet maintains healthy levels of salts and fluid that evaporates, our bodies can experience a chemical imbalance when exercise causes excessive sweating. This chemical imbalance can sometimes lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous for our children. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include a dry or sticky mouth, few or no tears when crying, eyes that look sunken, dry and cool skin, unusual irritability, drowsiness or dizziness; and in babies, the soft spot on top of the head appears sunken or fewer wet diapers than usual.
If you think your child is showing signs of early dehydration, you should act immediately. Children who are mildly dehydrated because of activity will be thirsty and should drink as much as they want. Plain water is the best option. They should rest in a cool, shaded spot until the lost fluid is replaced. A breastfed infant should continue to be nursed, even during rehydration, unless repeated vomiting occurs. Do not give a dehydrated child, soda, ginger ale, tea, fruit juice, gelatin desserts, or chicken broth. These don’t have the right mix of sugar and salts and can make the dehydration worse. Older children who are dehydrated can have sports drinks, but an oral rehydration solution (ORS) is best for young children and infants.
However, some dehydrated children do not improve when given an ORS, especially if they experience persistent bowel movements that are forceful or are often vomiting. When fluid losses cannot be replaced for these or other reasons, children might need to get intravenous (IV) fluids in the hospital. If you’re treating your child for dehydration at home and feel that there’s no improvement or that the dehydration is getting worse, call your doctor immediately or take your child to the nearest emergency room.
At Heaven’s Elect, we take precautions to assure your young loved ones remain comfortable and hydrated, especially on hot summer days. Our procedures to help with help with dehydration include:
- Children under 1 do not drink water unless we receive a doctor’s note.
- Children 1 to 3 years of age have sippy cups in the room and are given drinks upon request.
- Children 4 years of age and up to school age children bring in their own water bottles or we supply cups. They also have complete access to the two drinking fountains within the facility.
- Supply children with hats to help keep them cooler in our warm summer days.