Drinking Fluids - Decreased
- Child drinks less than normal amounts of fluid
- Main cause: Sore mouth or throat. See MOUTH ULCERS or SORE THROAT after using this topic to check for dehydration. Common cause in infants: Blocked nose in bottle or breastfed infant (Reason: can't breathe while sucking). See COLDS after using this topic.
- Common cause: Nausea from viral stomach infection without vomiting.
- Difficulty breathing with bronchiolitis or croup. (Reason: not enough energy to both suck and breathe)
See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If
- Age under 12 weeks and breastfeeding, See BREASTFEEDING QUESTIONS
- Age under 12 weeks and formula feeding, see BOTTLEFEEDING QUESTIONS
- MOUTH ULCERS are the cause
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Not moving or very weak
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Has not urinated in over 8 hours
- Crying produces no tears
- Very dry mouth (rather than moist)
- Sunken soft spot
- Excessively sleepy child
- Too weak to suck or drink
- Refuses to drink anything for over 12 hours (8 hours if under 12 months old)
- Refuses to drink and new onset of drooling
- Could have swallowed a foreign body
- Wheezing or stridor with breathing
- Difficulty breathing not better after you clean out the nose
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Within 24 Hours (between 9am and 4pm) If
- You think your child needs to be seen. but not urgently
- Unexplained difficulty drinking and also has fever
- Poor drinking present over 3 days
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
Patient Home Care If
- Drinking adequate amounts of fluid AND no signs of dehydration and you don't think your child needs to be see
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR Drinking Fluids - Decreased
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, since your child doesn't have diarrhea or vomiting.
Solid Foods: Don't worry about solid food intake. It's normal for the appetite to fall off during illness. Preventing dehydration is the only important issue.
For Sore Mouth:
- If the mouth is sore, give cold drinks.
- Avoid citrus juices.
- For infants, offer fluids in a cup, spoon or syringe rather than a bottle (Reason: The nipple may increase pain).
- Older child can use 1 teaspoon of a liquid antacid as a mouthwash 4 times per day after meals.
- Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
Nasal Washes To Open a Blocked Nose:
- Use saline nose drops or spray to loosen up the dried mucus. If not available, can use warm tap water.
- STEP 1: Instill 3 drops per nostril. (Age < 1 year, use 1 drop and do one side at a time)
- STEP 2: Blow (or suction) each nostril separately, while closing off the other nostril. Then do other side.
- STEP 3: Repeat nose drops and blowing (or suctioning) until the discharge is clear.
- Frequency: Do nasal washes whenever your child can't breathe through the nose.
- Saline nasal sprays can be purchased OTC
- Saline nose drops can also be made: add 1/2 tsp of table salt to 1 cup (8 oz) of warm water
- Reason for nose drops: suction or nose blowing alone can't remove dried or sticky mucus.
- Another option: use a warm shower to loosen mucus. Breathe in the moist air, then blow each nostril.
- For young children, can also use a wet cotton swab to remove sticky mucus.
- Importance for a young infant: can't nurse or drink from a bottle unless the nose is open.
For Shortness of Breath: For mild bronchiolitis or difficult breathing, offer small frequent (every ½ hour) feedings so the infant can rest briefly between them.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Difficulty swallowing becomes worse
- Signs of dehydration
- Poor drinking present over 3 days
- Your child becomes worse
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.