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What Are the Signs of Dehydration in Children?

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body isn’t getting the water it needs. Although it can happen to anyone, dehydration can be especially dangerous for young children. In fact, due to their small bodies, children are more at risk for dehydration than the average adult.

According to U.S. surveys, only 25% of young children from age 4 to 8 are drinking enough water. Worse, for older children aged 9 to 13, only 15% are drinking the daily recommended amount of water. These troubling statistics reveal a larger problem: Dehydration can affect your children without you ever knowing it.

While child dehydration is a wide-spread issue, knowing how to spot their symptoms of dehydration can be an important step towards preventing it. In this blog, we are going to explore 5 common signs of dehydration in children, as well as tips to help your child avoid dehydration.

Bad Breath

As a child’s body loses fluids and electrolytes throughout the day, one of the first things that happens is a dry mouth. When we’re dehydrated, we don’t produce enough saliva[iv] to lubricate our mouth.

However, saliva serves an important purpose: it’s a natural cleanser of our mouth and teeth. Thus, when we’re dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, bacteria is more likely to grow in the mouth. Bacterial overgrowth from dehydration, in turn, can cause bad breath in children.

Dry Skin

Water accounts for about 30%[i] of our skin by weight. Thus, it is no surprise that when we’re dehydrated, our skin suffers. Dehydration diminishes skin turgor or elasticity, while proper hydration can contribute to greater skin thickness and skin hydration.

One of the simplest tests for dehydration is to pinch the skin on the back of the hand, and watch your body’s reaction. If the pinched skin is slow to snap back into place, you are likely dehydrated.


Headaches from dehydration are very common. Although their origin is not entirely known, it’s been hypothesized that they’re caused by intracranial dehydration and decreases in blood volume.

The good news is that rehydration may provide fast relief. One study showed that drinking water provided relief to individuals who were suffering from dehydration headaches within 30 minutes to 3 hours[iii].

Fatigue and Crankiness

Dehydration is the number 1 cause of mid-day fatigue in adults and children. Irritability, fussiness and fatigue in children have all been linked to dehydration. In fact, the effect dehydration has on kids’ cognitive abilities has been widely studied.

Drinking enough water can greatly impact how children feel. In fact, research shows that being properly hydrated can bring a positive lift to kids’ moods[ii].

Salt Cravings

Dehydration isn’t just a loss of water in the body. It’s also a loss of electrolytes and salt. Thus, when kids feel dehydrated, they often crave something salty. Since the body often loses salt through sweat, salt cravings are common after intense exercise and being outside during hot weather.

How to Help Your Child Stay Hydrated

So what can parents do to prepare? First, encourage your child to consistently drink fluid like water throughout the day. Help them build healthy habits like drinking fluids in small sips and consuming small amounts of water and electrolytes throughout the day.

Secondly, keep an eye out for common signs of dehydration in children. While dehydration in children often goes unnoticed, knowing what unique signs to look for can help you gauge your child’s condition and prevent dehydration.

Thirdly, hydrate quickly and effectively by replenishing your child’s lost fluids and electrolytes. Essential to important body functions and your body’s fluid balance, complete hydration requires consuming water and electrolytes.

To stay better hydrated, try Dripdrop. Safe for children, Dripdrop is a perfect blend of electrolytes and vitamins. With a precise formula that promotes rapid hydration, Dripdrop is designed to help the body to rehydrate quickly and efficiently. Tasty and low in sugars, Dripdrop will keep you and your child hydrated.

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[i] Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439-458.
[ii] Benton, D. (2011). Dehydration influences mood and cognition: a plausible hypothesis?. Nutrients, 3(5), 555-573.
[iii] Blau, J. N., Kell, C. A., & Sperling, J. M. (2004). Water‐deprivation headache: A new headache with two variants. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 44(1), 79-83.
[iv] Ship, J. A., & Fischer, D. J. (1997). The relationship between dehydration and parotid salivary gland function in young and older healthy adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 52(5), M310-M319.