What if a baby is not peeing?
Here, a mom asks about her 4-month-old baby that hasn’t peed for several hours. Let’s go through why this may be and how to handle the situation.
My 4-month-old baby is not urinating. My son is acting normal – slept for 13 hours woke up happy but had a dry diaper when he woke. He ate like normal and now 1 1/2 hours later still has not urinated. So my baby hasn’t peed in 15 hours or so! Should I be concerned?
What could the reasons be? I am worried that he is ill and that it can be dangerous?
What If a Baby Is Not Urinating? Reasons and Remedies
15 hours without peeing is a very long time for a baby. The general guideline is that a baby should be urinating at least once every 1.5 hours and certainly not go without urinating for longer than 6 hours.
Since your baby is so young, this is also not a case of bladder control. Children generally have no bladder control during their first year, and after that, it develops gradually. (There are some research studies that indicate that early potty training accelerates bladder control quite significantly so that such trained children can have control already at around 9 months. At 4 months, like your son, it is still too early.
I’ll walk through three possible reasons to consider.
Could there be any reason to believe that your son is dehydrated?
Some common signs of dehydration are:
- Not looking well
- Being more irritable than usual
- Having dry skin and/or a sunken fontanel
- Urinating less than usual
Has your baby eaten less than usual? Of course, if he sleeps through the night and has only had very little to drink now, then the amount of urine he would pass is smaller than if he feeds at night. If he hasn’t eaten much yet, offer him some more milk.
2. Your Baby Actually Peed
Most often, babies do pass urine, but the parents won’t notice. This is because disposable diapers are so efficient in soaking up the urine. If you tear his old diaper apart, you can examine the small beads in there. If they are warm or if they smell urine, your son has urinated.
If you are unsure try wrapping him in a cloth diaper or a swaddling cloth for around 1.5-2.5 hours to see if he urinates (infants generally urinate every 1.5 hours)
It is possible that this is just a one-time event or that your baby has urinated and the diaper just absorbed it all, but I think you should still take this seriously.
3. Some Sort of Blockage
If he has eaten normal amounts and still doesn’t pee, then there could be some blockage, and more liquid could do more harm than good. Just take him to a doctor in such a case instead.
If there is still no indication that he has urinated and you are confident that he is not dehydrated (normal feeding patterns and no diarrhea) do not try to force urination by filling him up with liquids.
If there is a more serious problem such as a blockage, this can aggravate it and possibly do damage. If after trying the cloth diaper (see above) you still see no sign of urination, see your pediatrician.
When to Call the Doctor
If your baby is not peeing, here are reasons to call the doctor:
- Your baby is urinating less than usual – either less frequently or there is a much larger gap than usual between the urinations.
- Dark-colored urine or smelly urine – this could indicate a urinary tract infection, that your baby is dehydrated, or that the baby needs more frequent feeding
- Blood in the urine – this indicates an infection and needs to be assessed
- If your baby is not peeing and also not feeding well, is difficult to wake up, or in general appears weak
In these cases, do not wait and do not just try home remedies, but contact a doctor for assessment.
As you see, there may be different explanations to the fact that your baby is not urinating (or at least not enough for you to have noticed. And what to do depends a lot on the situation, how much milk he recently drank, and on if he seems to be ill at all.
As long as your child’s behavior is normal, do not feel you must rush him to the emergency room. If you are worried you can call the nearest hospital and ask to speak to the triage nurse. She will be able to assess over the phone how critical the symptoms are and give you a “soft recommendation”.
If he starts to become very tired or get a fever, is fussy, or shows any other sign of illness or pain, contact a doctor immediately.
Your baby is hopefully just fine, but nevertheless, you are right to take it seriously that your baby is not urinating. Do examine his diaper, offer some liquid if he hasn’t had any recently, and call the Dr – all right now!
More About Babies And Urination
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Children
- Urinary bladder control during the first 3 years of life in healthy children in Vietnam–a comparison study with Swedish children
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