Dehydration in under 5's

The under-5s should get plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

It's quite common for young children to become dehydrated. It can be serious if it's not dealt with quickly.

Take your baby or child to the GP urgently or go to A&E if they:

  • seem drowsy
  • breathe fast
  • have few or no tears when they cry
  • have a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards (sunken fontanelle)
  • have a dry mouth
  • have dark-yellow pee
  • have cold and blotchy-looking hands and feet

Once the dehydration has been treated your child will need to maintain their fluid levels.

GPs usually advise:


  • carry on breastfeeding or using formula, try to give small amounts more often than usual
  • for babies on formula or solid foods – give them small sips of extra water
  • give small children their usual diet
  • give regular small sips of rehydration solution to replace lost fluids, salts and sugars – ask your pharmacist to recommend one


  • do not make formula weaker
  • do not give young children fruit juice or fizzy drinks, it makes things like diarrhoea or vomiting worse


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