Toddlers and Dehydration

Dr. Jennifer Willis, MD, is a family medicine practitioner for Banner Health Center in Verrado. For more information on this topic, speak with your doctor or call Dr. Willis’ office at (623) 463-5000.

Question: My toddler is always on the move and seldom sits long enough to take a drink of water. How much water should he be drinking daily to prevent dehydration?

Answer: Toddler-age children should drink at least four 8-ounce servings of water each day, in addition to the recommended 16 ounces of milk daily. Keeping your child hydrated is essential to maintaining his body temperature, moving food and other nutrients through his digestive system and keeping him at a healthy weight.

To avoid dehydration, make a point of offering your son water every hour, regardless of his activity level, and keep a full sippy cup nearby. When you get yourself a drink of water, ask your son to drink as well. To further boost hydration, offer fruits, vegetables, yogurt and other foods that have high water content. If you son does not like water, try offering it chilled or putting a splash of juice in it. Remember that toddlers should only have about four ounces of juice each day to avoid excess sugar in their diets.

Because toddlers are very active and our weather is so warm, they can lose a lot of fluid quickly, which makes it even more important to provide water frequently. Toddlers can become dehydrated without realizing it, and they may not know to ask for water until they are very thirsty, tired or feeling dizzy.

In addition to these symptoms, always watch for other early signs of dehydration, such as dry lips, urine that is dark yellow in color, less frequent bathroom trips, or if your child is not potty-trained, more than six hours without a wet diaper. If these symptoms appear, get your child indoors to a cool area and provide water immediately.

If your child is still showing signs of dehydration after an hour, call your doctor for advice.

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