6 Little-Known Signs Your Child Is Very Dehydrated

Babies and children are far more at risk of dehydration in hot weather.
SanyaSM via Getty Images

We’re set to bask in temperatures of up to 30°C this weekend – which has prompted the UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to issue an amber heat health alert in five regions across England.

The alert is currently in place from Friday 9 June to Monday 12 June in the West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South East and South West.

“An amber alert indicates that weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service, and at this level we may begin to see some health impacts across the wider population, not just the most vulnerable,” says UKHSA.

As a result, parents will need to keep little ones protected from the heat – and sun – during the warmer days, like Saturday when temperatures are set to peak. This is particularly important as babies and children are far more at risk of dehydration than the rest of us.

Keeping kids hydrated can be tricky at the best of times. Often, little ones won’t ask for a drink or reach for a drink unless it’s right in front of them – so it’s key that parents keep offering those all-important sips throughout the day.

Some types of food can also offer hydration, such as watermelon, cucumber, apples, peaches, melons, strawberries and tomatoes – so having healthy snacks to hand can also help.

Dehydration in children is pretty common – and dark yellow or brown urine is usually a sign they need to drink much more, as is feeling thirsty, peeing less, feeling tired, and having a dry mouth, lips or tongue.

There are also some signs of severe dehydration to keep an eye out for over the sunny weekend.

If your child is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak to your GP (if they’re open) or call NHS 111:

1. Appearing unusual drowsy or confused and disorientated,

2. Sunken eyes or crying with few/no tears,

3. Cold hands,

4. Breathing faster than usual and having a fast heart rate,

5. Soft spot appears on their head that sinks inwards (in babies),

6. Fewer wet nappies (in babies) or your child is peeing less than normal.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, urged people to keep out of the sun at the hottest time of the day (between 11am and 3pm), to walk dogs or exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening, and to keep homes cool by closing windows and curtains in rooms that face the sun.

If you do go outside, it’s important to cover up with suitable clothing such as an appropriate hat and sunglasses, seek shade and apply sunscreen regularly.