“What if a baby is not eating or drinking and losing weight? How dangerous is it, and what should we do? Our baby is sick and very lethargic.”

This Q&A takes a look at what is the most concerning, what not to worry about, and what to do when a sick baby won’t eat and drink, and is losing weight.

sick baby lost weightPin

Dad’s Question:

My 10-and-a-half-month-old baby boy was very wheezy over the weekend. He was diagnosed with broncholiths around 4 months ago; we tried him with his inhaler tube thing! This didn’t help, so we monitored him over the next few days.

By Monday evening, he was projectile vomiting and coughing. We took him to the emergency doctor, who said he had only got a “cold”. He wasn’t any better by Tuesday, so we took him to our Family Doctors Wednesday morning, who said he had a Chest infection and gave him Amoxicillin and Dioraylte.

Our son 2 days later, won’t take the Dioraylite and knows he is sick whenever he drinks his water or juice, so he will only take a small sip! We tried him on a piece of toast this morning, but he couldn’t keep it down. He has been very lethargic over the past 24 hrs sleeping most of the time, and has lost weight. We haven’t weighed him yet, but you couldn’t see his ribs and backbone before he fell ill.

I don’t want to sound like an over-concerned parent but should we be worried that he hasn’t really eaten or properly drank in 2 days? Should we take him back to our Doctors?

Please advise.

Lethargic 10-Month-Old Not Eating, Drinking, And Lost Weight

I understand that you are worried, and I agree with you; If your son is weak, isn’t drinking, and can’t keep anything down, the doctor needs to take a second look at him immediately.

I know from experience that babies sometimes tend to throw up from just having a cold; I think the mucus is the problem. So the fact that he is throwing up doesn’t have to mean there is something else wrong with him (but you should still have him checked!).

Also, don’t be too worried about your son not eating and losing weight. In most cases, the weeks after such a period, babies tend to get an enormous appetite and compensate for the weight loss. It is quite amazing! And when he starts eating again, you can also add extra fat to his food if necessary.

It is much more worrying if he isn’t drinking. Babies can become dehydrated fast, which can be really dangerous for them. So take him back to the doctor!

And also try to offer him liquid very often. Even if he just takes a teaspoon every time, it is much better than nothing. (You can read more about signs of dehydration in babies here.)

I really hope your little son gets well soon and that he and you get all the help you should expect from the doctors.

(Answer approved by our Medical Reference Team)

More Babies That Won’t Eat


Sep 28, 2019 Baby not eating and lost weight

by: Meera


You have said that the ten months baby is not eating and loses his weight. This is the age that the child starts playing around by crawling so they will forget themselves or otherwise going on playing so nothing to worry.

Oct 28, 2019 need advice please
by: Anonymous
Hi, I’m worried about my 17-month-old daughter. She has had hard bowel movements for a long time. But flexible almost two weeks now, They have been soft not loose, but it’s every other diaper change that it’s Pooh. She is starting to get a diaper rash due to how many changes and being g wiped. She also has never got a rash on her bottom til now. Her diet has not changed so I’m we worried. Maybe I can get some advise her before I call her Dr. She also has been acting pretty normal. The only thing Maybe her at night time. Ahead Wales you several times wanting milk.

Oct 30, 2019 Frequent BM at 10 months
by: Paula (Easy Baby Life)
Having frequent BM doesn’t have to mean that something is wrong – if she has good appetite, is healthy and growing, then most likely she is fine. Has she started to move around recently? That could actually a reason for her more frequent stools.

Diaper rash can certainly come from all the wiping – if possible; let her spend time without diapers as much as possible.

Anyway, I hope she is fine. Let us know what the doctor said.

Best, Paula

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