When a child has a fever, vomits or has diarrhoea several times a day, they can lose a lot of fluid. If they do not drink enough during, they can become dehydrated. Your doctor will determine whether your child is mildly, moderately, or severely dehydrated. Or not at all.
Well hydrated or only mildly dehydrated
It is important that your child drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost due to a fever, vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
- Give your child almost anything they want to drink, including dairy products. But try to avoid fizzy soda or juice, as they contain too much sugar, which can exacerbate dehydration. Cordials must be diluted more than usual.
- If your child is vomiting, give them a little fluid at a time, but do so frequently. Follow the department’s recommendations for your child.
- If you are breast-feeding your child, let them feed more often than usual if possible.
Moderate or severe dehydration
Your child is dehydrated.
- Your child will need a special fluid mixture that contains the right amounts of salt and sugar. We recommend Revolyt or Floridral powder, both of which are available over the counter at the pharmacy.
- Dissolve the powder in water, or dilute it with sugar-free cordial.
- Follow the department’s recommendations for your child.
Fluid via stomach tube or drip
If your child has moderate or severe dehydration, and you cannot get them to drink the fluid mixture, your doctor will consider fluid therapy via a stomach tube. The tube will be inserted via the nose into the stomach. Fluid can also be given via a drip placed your child’s hand.
While your child is vomiting, prioritise fluids over food, as the latter can provoke more vomiting. Once vomiting stops, your child can eat what they want, but keep portions small.
After coming home from hospital
If your child is still vomiting and has diarrhoea when you get home, it is important to continue the fluid therapy, keeping a note of what and how much your child drinks on the fluid chart we give you.
When should you contact your doctor again?
Contact your doctor or dial 1813 if:
- Your child becomes listless and will no longer drink fluids
- Vomiting starts again, especially if your child has a lot of stomach pain.
- Your child does not urinate at least 3-4 times a day, although it is okay if their nappy is not as wet as usual.
Some families can arrange to contact us again directly within the first 24 hours of their hospital visit.
Is your child getting enough fluids?
Remember to keep track of how much your child drinks to ensure they get enough fluids. Use the fluid chart provided by the department.