Dehydration is a condition of the body wherein water is depleted and is less than what the body actually needs. It results when babies take in not as much as fluid than he or she loses. Usually, they lose more fluid if their normal physiologic function is altered like in the case of diarrhea, vomiting, and high fever. Exposing the baby to a hot environment could also make him lose more body water in the form of perspiration.

Although dehydration is often mild and reversible if immediate action is taken, sometimes it can be fatal. If dehydration is left undetected for quite a long time, this can potentially lead to shock and multiple organ failure. Babies and infants are more commonly susceptible to dehydration and yet they are less likely recognized by most of their caregivers.

The following are the signs and symptoms that you should look out for to know if your baby is dehydrated.

•    Your baby appears restless, irritable, tired, lethargic, or unconscious

•    Your baby’s eyes are sunken (In some babies and infants, their eyes normally appear sunken. It is helpful to assess properly if the eyes are normal or more sunken than usual.)

•    There are no tears when your baby cries. His eyes are dry.

•    Your baby’s lips, mouth and tongue are dry

•    When offered with water, your baby drinks eagerly (if moderately dehydrated), or drinks poorly (if severely dehydrated)

•    Your baby passes out very little urine than usual or might not have even passed urine for about six hours or more.

•    The color of your baby’s urine is dark yellow, which means it is concentrated due to a decrease of water volume in the urine

•    Your baby’s hands and feet feel cold and clammy

•    Your baby’s pulses are faint

•    Your baby’s skin goes back slowly when pinched

If you suspect that your baby is mildly dehydrated, consult a pediatrician at once. But while still at home, be sure to start giving your baby a liquid drink rich with electrolyte (e.g. pedialyte, or infalyte) that are specially formulated to help recover water and salts lost from the body. Never give your baby Gatorade or other adult drinks because although they contain electrolytes, their sugar content is too much for babies and children.

If you suspect your baby is severely dehydrated or can not tolerate oral rehydration, bring your baby immediately to the hospital. An intravenous access would be needed to administer the rehydrating solution and correct the dehydration quickly.

Dehydration is clearly a reversible condition if prompt treatment is initiated. Nobody should die from it, especially infants and children who are still helpless and dependent on their primary caregivers. Therefore, parents or whoever is taking care of these little ones should know about dehydration.