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It may surprise you to know that babies get urinary tract infections (UTI). We explain how it can happen and what to do.

What causes urinary tract infection?

If germs in poo spread from skin on your baby’s bottom to the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body (called the urethra), they will cause a urinary infection. It is more common in girls, because this tube is much shorter than in boys so the germs don’t have so far to go.

If it’s not treated, the infection can spread into the bladder when it becomes cystitis and, more seriously, up into the kidneys.

What are the symptoms?

It’s difficult to tell whether a baby has a UTI because they can’t tell you why they’re uncomfortable and, as they’re wearing nappies, you won’t easily know whether they’re weeing more often, or whether they’re dribbling urine instead of passing it in a steady stream. But there are signs to look out for:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • General irritability and not feeding well
  • Tummy pain
  • Pain or stinging when weeing, which can make your baby or toddler cry
  • Blood in the urine, which will make the nappy pink
  • Smelly urine – you’ll notice this when you change a wet nappy
  • Frequent wetting problems after your little one has been potty trained.

How is a UTI in a baby treated?

Always see your GP if you think your baby has a UTI, so it’s caught quickly and doesn’t become more serious. Your doctor may want a urine sample to find out exactly what kind of germs are causing the problem, and will prescribe antibiotics.

Your baby will probably start to feel better within a day or two, but it’s important to finish the course of antibiotics to make sure the infection is completely cleared up. In the meantime, make sure she has plenty to drink, to help flush out the germs.

How can I prevent it?

  • Always wipe your baby’s bottom from front to back to keep germs away from her bladder
  • Change her as soon as she’s done a poo
  • Try to prevent your little one getting constipated, as that can cause pressure in her tummy and stop her being able to empty her bladder properly.

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