Dehydration Pediatric Care Plan

By K Health
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
January 12, 2021

What is Dehydration?

The body needs water since water is a main component of blood. When your body loses too much water or doesn’t get enough water, it becomes more difficult for blood to reach the body’s organs. This problem is called dehydration. Younger children at higher risk for dehydration for a number of reasons. 

Causes of dehydration include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea (most common)
  • Fever
  • Burns
  • Diabetes

Dehydration is classified as mild, moderate, or severe and symptoms include:

  • urinating less
  • dry mouth
  • very fussy or sleepy
  • marked decrease in activity
  • few or no tears when crying
  • wrinkled skin
  • sunken eyes

Dehydration Diagnosis & Treatment

Dehydration is diagnosed based on a history and physical exam. Based on this evaluation, the degree of your child’s dehydration can be assessed and the proper recommendations for management offered. See chart below for guidance.

Mild Dehydration

Symptoms of mild dehydration may include:

  • looks well
  • Isn’t thirsty
  • making tears
  • mouth isn’t dry
  • lips aren’t chapped


  • Oral rehydration with pedialyte or water
  • If vomiting give small amounts every 5 minutes
  • If unable to keep fluids down, check in with K or call doctor

24 hour goal: at least 1 to 1-and-a-half ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight Example: 40 pound child needs at least 40-60oz of fluid in a 24 hour period

Moderate Dehydration


  • fussy and irritable
  • thirsty
  • eyes look sunken
  • dry mouth
  • no tears


  • Proceed to emergency room for rehydration through the the vein (IV)

24 hour goal: at least 2 to 2-and-a-half ounces of fluid for every pound of body weightExample: 40 pound child needs at least 80-100 ounces

Severe Dehydration


  • lethargic
  • too sick to drink
  • sunken eyes
  • dry mouth
  • chapped lips


Go to the ER for IV rehydration as soon as possible.

See a doctor in person if…

  • Your child is unable to keep fluids down
  • Your child has vomiting for more than 3 days
  • Your child has diarrhea for more than 5 days
  • Go to the emergency room if your child becomes sleepy or lethargic

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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