Symptom Definition

  1. Child drinks less than normal amounts of fluid
  2. Main Cause: Sore mouth or throat. See MOUTH ULCERS or SORE THROAT after using this topic to check for dehydration
  3. Common cause in infants: blocked nose in bottle or breastfed infant (Reason: can't breathe while sucking). See COLDS after using this topic
  4. Common cause: nausea from viral stomach infection without vomiting
  5. Complication: dehydration

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  1. Your child looks or acts very sick
  2. Signs of dehydration, such as:
    1. Has not urinated in > 8 hours
    2. Crying produces no tears
    3. Very dry mouth (rather than moist)
    4. Sunken soft spot
    5. Excessively sleepy child
  3. Too weak to suck or drink
  4. Refuses to drink anything for > 12 hours
  5. Could have swallowed a foreign body
  6. Difficulty breathing is not better after you clean out the nose.
  7. Newborn (< 1 month old) who looks or acts sick at all

Call Your Doctor within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  1. You think your child needs to be seen
  2. Unexplained difficulty swallowing or drinking and also has fever

Call Your Doctor during Weekday Office Hours If

  1. You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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