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7 Signs Your Toddler Has A UTI, Because The Symptoms Can Be Tricky

When my daughter was treated for the stomach flu this past January, one of the items on the hospital staff's checklist was making sure she didn't have a urinary tract infection (UTI). After all, she had a high fever, was lethargic, and had vomited earlier in the morning which pointed at a stomach bug, but those could have also been some of the known signs your toddler has a UTI. Lucky for her, they ruled it the stomach flu before needing to go through the painful process of a catheter to test for a UTI (younger kids typically don't have the ability to properly pee in a cup), but it still left me wondering about the chances of my toddler contracting a UTI.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, tells Romper in an email interview that UTIs are fairly common in young children. In fact, she notes that 3 percent of girls and 1 percent of boys will have a UTI by 11 years of age. "UTIs may go untreated because the symptoms may not be obvious to the child or to parents," Swanson says.

Even more of a reason to check out this list, right? Scope out your kiddo's symptoms and stop a UTI in its tracks by getting them the treatment they need.

1Fever

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"A young child with a high fever, and no other symptoms, has a 1 in 20 chance of having a UTI," Swanson tells Romper. According to Baby Center, about 5 percent of children who have a fever without other symptoms have a UTI.

2Foul-Smelling Urine

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According to Parents, "Babies are especially vulnerable to UTIs because they're in diapers most of the time, which keeps their genital area moist and warm and allows bacteria to breed." Which is why your little one might experience foul-smelling urine related to a UTI, the magazine noted.

3Poor Appetite

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The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) said that while your child may be too young to properly explain what they are feeling, poor feeding or appetite, and/or poor weight gain may be signs of a UTI.

4Belly Pain

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If your toddler or school-age child is complaining of belly pain and saying that it hurts when they urinate, then you may be dealing with a urinary tract infection, noted Parents. Urine is normally clear, so if your healthcare provider tests your child's urine and it's cloudy, then they will suspect a UTI.

5Irritability Or Fussiness

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The NIDDK also explained that while young children might not display any symptoms related to a UTI, irritability or fussiness could point at a UTI. "Most often a bladder infection is caused by bacteria that are normally found in the bowel," the website noted. While urination typically helps to flush those things out, "sometimes your child’s body can’t fight the bacteria and the bacteria cause an infection."

6General Uncomfortableness

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A writer at What To Expect's "Word Of Mom" blog said that her daughter Myley was diagnosed with a UTI after she began shouting "My diaper hurts!" and even looked uncomfortable when she was standing. "She would try so hard to find a position that was not painful while sitting, laying down, and standing," she wrote. If your little one is uncomfortably fidgeting with their diaper or undies a lot, then you may have a UTI on your hands.

7Crying

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As you've learned along your parenting journey, all cries mean something different. If your toddler is crying when they urinate and therefore indicating that it is painful, then you might want to make a visit to your healthcare provider.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.