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How to Tell If Your Toddler Has a Urinary Tract Infection

Updated February 21, 2017

It is difficult to tell if your toddler has a urinary tract infection (UTI) because he or she may not be able to describe any symptoms or tell you when he or she is ill. When your toddler has a UTI, it is usually caused by stool getting into the urethra and contaminating the urinary tract. It is important to monitor your toddler for signs of illness that could be a UTI. You need to get treatment for your toddler's UTI because failure to do so may result in kidney damage. Take the following steps to determine if your toddler has a urinary tract infection.

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  1. Visit the paediatrician. Your toddler will need a physical examination and urine test to determine if he or she has a UTI. If your toddler is not toilet trained, your doctor may need to attach a urine collection bag to his or her skin and wait for him or her to urinate. The doctor will then collect the urine from the bag and perform a urinalysis to check for infection. Your doctor will also look at the urine to see if it looks different from normal, clear, straw-coloured urine.

  2. Monitor smells. When children have UTIs, the bacteria cause foul-smelling urine. If your toddler's urine has a strong, bad or fishy odour, call your doctor.

  3. Watch for fever. If your toddler has a fever, he or she is fighting an infection. If the fever is not accompanied by a cold, cough or earache, he or she may have a urinary tract infection. Report the elevated temperature to your doctor.

  4. Check for blood. Urinary tract infections frequently cause blood in the urine. Check your toddler's urine for blood or check to see if the inside of his diaper has pink or red spots in it.

  5. Watch for crying. UTIs cause pain and burning on urination. They can also cause abdominal, back and side pain. Monitor your toddler for pain and crying when passing urine. Even if your toddler does not have pain, a urinary tract infection may cause him or her to feel sick and cranky.

  6. Tip

    Monitor your toddler for decreased urinary output. A urinary infection may cause your child to only produce scant amounts of urine. If urinary output is decreased, notify your paediatrician.


    If your child seems unwell, watch him or her carefully for signs of urinary tract infection. Without treatment, UTIs can progress rapidly and cause kidney damage.

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Things You'll Need

  • Physical examination
  • Urine test

About the Author

Meadow Milano has been a registered nurse for over 20 years, with extensive experience in emergency nursing, labor and delivery and general medicine. She has written numerous articles for nursing publications pertaining to health and medicine, and enjoys teaching in the clinical setting.

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