As hard as it may be to fathom, urinary tract infections or UTIs are a common occurrence in toddlers under twelve months of age. It’s usually seen in children who are still in their nappies. As if those itchy nappies weren’t enough already!
A UTI is a bacterial infection that can happen in the urinary tract which includes the bladder, urethra and the kidneys. It occurs when bacteria get into the urinary tract and begin to multiply there. The end result is one unhappy (and frequently needing to pee) kiddo.
Here, we examine some of the causes, symptoms and preventive measures that you can take so that you can beat the overwhelm along with managing the chaos that your little one may cause during this time.
What causes UTIs in toddlers in the first place?
The main cause of a UTI in toddlers is the bacteria that enters the body and begins to travel up the urinary tract. These bacteria often come from the bowels or from the faeces on the skin that find their way into the urethra. At times, constipation in children can also lead to developing this infection, so see that your little one empties their bowels regularly (because we know how much you love changing those pooey nappies).
If you suspect your child could have a UTI, then consulting a doctor to have it investigated is the best option. UTI symptoms in toddlers should not be left untreated as the infection could cause kidney scarring.
What are the symptoms of a UTI in children?
We know that you must be having a tough time understanding your toddler as it is, and to top it all, dealing with a UTI can strike fear in even the most seasoned parents.
Signs of a UTI in a toddler can be pretty vague at times, but here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection to watch out for in children:
- A sensation of burning or stinging during weeing
- Pain in the lower part of the tummy or back
- Increase in the frequency of urination
- Experiencing incontinence
- Cloudy or smelly wee
- Fever or vomiting
At times young children may not show any of these symptoms at all but are just generally unwell with signs of being unsettled (oh come on, don’t add to the confusion already!). They may eat less than usual or might have a lighter than normal skin tone, so you need to be in the lookout because the changes could be quite subtle.
How do you check for a UTI in a toddler?
Your kiddo will have to get to a doctor who will check their wee to confirm the presence of an infection. This urine sample will then be sent to a lab where they would perform certain tests to confirm the diagnosis, check which bacteria are causing the infection and provide guidance on which antibiotics would be the best to treat the infection.
At times, an ultrasound may also be suggested by your medical practitioner to check for any problems in the kidneys or bladder. This is just a routine that they perform to negate any extremities so try not to stress too much if this is the case.
How can you treat a UTI in a toddler?
If detected early, a UTI can easily be treated at home with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor (breathe a sigh of relief!). These antibiotics are usually in the form of a liquid or syrup so your child can drink them easily.
Antibiotics are prescribed for a period of three to five days, and it may take around one to two days for the symptoms to improve.
It’s important to complete the entire course of antibiotics even if your child appears to be feeling better. Let them rest well at home and give them plenty of fluids to clear out the infection effectively. And, of course, you can always speed up the recovery process, by showering them with a lot of kisses, cuddles, and hugs…which we know you’ll be doing anyway.
Prevention is better than cure
You know the old saying – prevention is definitely better than cure, so how can we prevent a UTI from occurring in a toddler in the first place? Let’s have a look at some of the precautions that we can take to avoid this uncomfortable situation.
- Follow good nappy hygiene, like changing it as soon as it is soiled with poo
- Wipe from front to back
- Constipation can increase the chances of a UTI, so consult your physician immediately if you see a problem
- Give your child plenty of fluids to drink
Practicing these basic actions and making them into a habit will greatly benefit you and your little one and hopefully keep those pesky UTIs at bay.