- Child drinks less than normal amounts of fluid
- Main Cause: Sore mouth or throat. See Mouth Ulcers or Sore Throat after using this topic to check for dehydration
- Common cause in infants: blocked nose in bottle or breastfed infant (Reason: can’t breathe while sucking). See Colds after using this topic
- Common cause: nausea from viral stomach infection without vomiting
- Complication: dehydration
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Has not urinated in > 8 hours
- Crying produces no tears
- Very dry mouth (rather than moist)
- Sunken soft spot
- Excessively sleepy child
- Too weak to suck or drink
- Refuses to drink anything for > 12 hours
- Could have swallowed a foreign body
- Difficulty breathing is not better after you clean out the nose.
- Newborn (< 1 month old) who looks or acts sick at all
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Unexplained difficulty swallowing or drinking and also has fever
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
- Adequate fluid intake AND no signs of dehydration and you don’t think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Decreased Fluid Intake
- Increase Fluid Intake: Give your child unlimited amounts of her favorite liquid (e.g. chocolate milk, fruit drinks, Kool-Aid, soft drinks, water). The type doesn’t matter, as it does with diarrhea or vomiting.
- Solid Foods: Don’t worry about solid food intake. It’s normal for appetite to fall off during illness. Preventing dehydration is the only important issue.
- For Sore Mouth: If the mouth is sore, give cold drinks. Avoid citrus juices. For infants, offer fluids in a cup rather than a bottle (Reason: The nipple may increase pain.) Older child can use 1 teaspoon of a liquid antacid as a mouth wash 4 times per day after meals. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
- For a Blocked Nose: Suction it out using warm water or saline nosedrops in infants and toddlers. Make saline nosedrops by adding 1/2 teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup (8 oz) of warm water.
- Call Your Doctor If
- Difficulty swallowing becomes worse
- Signs of dehydration
- Poor drinking present > 3 days
- Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor Now” symptoms