Infants are made of more water than adults: their body is composed of 75% of water vs. 60% for adults. They are particularly vulnerable to water and electrolyte imbalance for several reasons (1-2):
It’s difficult for adults to identify when the baby is thirsty (unusual crying) : they are most likely to develop diarrhea. Even if most parents understand what dehydration is, too many of them do not know the signs of infant dehydration. When unattended, it can get worse and lead to a critical state because of insufficient water intake.
Dehydration ranges from mild to severe. Infant being mildly to moderately dehydrated is thirsty, restless, lethargic or even drowsy. His diapers are not wet for three hours (less urination), and he will have few or no tears when crying. Severe dehydration signs include sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the top of the baby’s head), extreme fussiness or sleepiness, little or no urination – any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber, and no tears when crying.
Call your doctor immediately:if your baby develops signs and symptoms of severe dehydration
In case of great heat, infants who are not hydrated enough can get dehydrated in a few hours. Do not wait before you react! If you attend this problem, everything will be fine. But if you don’t hydrate him, his state can lead to hospitalization, involving perfusion to hydrate him quickly and efficiently. But you don’t need to get to this point: be prepared to hydrate him well.
According to Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, an infant needs about 700 ml of water per day, mainly brought by milk from birth to 6 months, and from 6 months to 1 year, 800 ml of water per day mostly brought by the baby milk (600 ml).
In times of great heat, increase these basic needs. These are a few pieces of common sense advice to avoid infant dehydration:
If he’s crying although he ate and that his diapers are clean, it means he’s thirsty: give him water!
If the child also has diarrhea, call your doctor and give the child oral rehydration
No sun or heat exposure!
An infant can very quickly be affected by hyperthermia. To avoid this:
As a conclusion, don’t forget to propose water regularly throughout the day and between milk bottles, especially during the summerReferences: 1- Jéquier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr 2010; 64: 115–123. 2- D’Anci KE et al. Hydration and cognitive function in children. Nutr Rev 2006; 64: 457–464. 3- Mayoclinic. Dehydration. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561 4- Dietary Reference Intakes. The essential guide to nutrients requirements. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington DC, 2006