Pees and dehydration

Is the number of daily pees a sign my baby has enough fluid?

Babies who do not have enough liquid in their bodies (are dehydrated) will decrease the number of pees and the pee will become more yellow and concentrated. Such babies are generally clearly very ill. Very underfed babies such as hungry or starving newborns can also become dehydrated. Babies who are only somewhat underfed will not tend to show changes in peeing patterns and their status should be assessed by other means.

A) Describing dehydration

Sick babies who are taking in very small amounts of liquids or are losing large amounts by vomiting or because of diarrhea can become dehydrated (not have enough liquid in their body). Dehydrated babies will decrease the number of pees and the pees will be darker. This is due to the body trying to hold onto what liquid is has by making more concentrated urine. 

Pee patterns are less helpful than other signs if the baby is underfed but otherwise well.

B) Signs of dehydration

Dehydrated babies will tend to show other signs of illness as well, including:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Listlessness
  • Fever
  • Ineffective feeding
  • A very dry mouth and no saliva pooling under the tongue
  • Skin that doesn’t return to normal after being gently pinched
  • Sunken eyes
  • A sunken soft spot on the top of the head (fontanelle)

C) Causes of dehydration

There are numerous causes of dehydration including:

  • Severe newborn underfeeding and starvation
  • Vomiting or diarrhea caused by:
    • A viral infection
    • A bacterial infection 
    • An infection with a parasite 
  • A painful bacterial or viral infection of the mouth preventing the baby from taking in liquids