Unlike older children and healthy adults, your baby's naturally small size makes her particularly susceptible to dehydration when she is sick. If your baby is vomiting, has a fever or diarrhea, she will need at least two to three ounces of fluid per pound of body weight, according to The Children's Hospital at Bronson in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you are concerned your baby is dehydrated, speak with you pediatrician immediately about getting your baby to drink small amounts of formula, breast milk or prescription oral rehydration therapy.
Space it Out
A rigid feeding schedule can be especially dangerous for a sick baby. If she is having difficulty keeping fluids down, try offering her an ounce or two of breast milk or formula every 10 minutes instead of several ounces every few hours. Small, more frequent drinks reduce the risk of irritating his stomach and give her body time to properly absorb the fluids, according to FamilyDoctor.org.
Stick with Baby-Friendly Fluids
Unless directed by your doctor, the only fluids you should give your baby when she is sick are breast milk and formula, which contain nutrients and electrolytes commonly depleted, lost during illness, according to The Children's Hospital at Bronson. Do not offer even diluted versions of sports drinks, clear soda or juice until she is over 12 months of age, recommends FamilyDoctor.org. Also, avoid plain water, which lacks the necessary electrolytes and sodium.
If your baby is feeling fussy, hot and achy, he may have even less patience for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Instead, try giving him a small amount of fluid every few minutes using the dispenser that comes with many medicines that reduce infant fevers. Dispense just a teaspoon at a time directly into his mouth and then take a break, rather than trying to feed it all at once, recommends, FamilyDoctor.org.
Speak with Your Doctor
Dehydration can have serious consequences for your infant. If you suspect that she's even slightly dehydrated, as indicated by fewer than normal wet diapers, a sunken soft-spot on her head, irritability and dry mouth and lips, it's important to contact your pediatrician immediately so she can recommend an appropriate oral rehydration solution if necessary. Even if your little one appears well hydrated, but is struggling to keep her food down, consult your doctor to see about switching to a lactose-free formula that is less likely to cause diarrhea, according to FamilyDoctor.org.