Urinary Tract Infections in Toddlers: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can occur in any part of the urinary system. Children, including toddlers and infants, can also get UTIs, although you’ve probably heard of them in adults.

What are Urinary Tract Infections in Toddlers?

There is no auto-resolution for urinary tract infections. It is recommended that you seek medical attention and take prescription medication if you develop these infections. To avoid kidney damage or even more serious infection, it is vital to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Urinary Tract Infections Causes in Toddlers

Bacteria that live in the bowel are often responsible for urinary tract infections. However, sometimes the bacteria that infect the urinary tract will cause infection even though the urinary tract is usually able to fight them off.

Because of toddlers and babies wearing diapers or being unable to wipe effectively, bacteria can sometimes spread from feces to the bladder. There are also times when an infection can signal a problem with the urinary tract structure. UTIs might be more common in toddlers whose families have suffered from them.

Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections in Toddlers

A toddler’s signs and symptoms of a UTI may differ from those of an adult, especially if they are unable to express themselves verbally. It’s not uncommon for toddlers under 2 years of age to have no symptoms at all.

Research shows, however, that urinary tract infections in children up to age 2 are most commonly characterized by unexplained fever. Children with urinary tract infections can also suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Bloody, cloudy, or bad-smelling urine
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Frequently visiting the bathroom
  • Frustration or irritability
  • Appetite deficit
  • Pain in the lower back or abdominal area
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • (When toddlers have already completed the potty training process) [1]

Since girls’ urethras are shorter and closer to their anus, they are more likely to suffer from UTIs. It has also been found that circumcised kids are less likely to get urinary tract infections than uncircumcised kids. [2]

Related: Blood in Toddler Stool: Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor


Do not delay taking your toddler to the pediatrician if you suspect he or she has a urinary tract infection. Infections can become more serious if they are not diagnosed and treated promptly.

To diagnose your child’s condition, your doctor will ask questions about their medical history and current symptoms, and they will do a physical examination.

It is only through urine culture that your toddler can tell for sure if he has a UTI, while all the other things will be helpful. You will have to use a catheter with your toddler if he or she isn’t potty trained. An ultra-thin tube is put into the urethra and then up into the bladder for this procedure. [3]

Urinary Tract Infections in Toddlers: Treatment

An antibiotic is the main treatment for a UTI, which kills the bacterial pathogen. Medications that numb the lining of the urinary tract may also be prescribed if the child is experiencing significant pain.

Taking antibiotics for the prescribed period of time is important for your child. Drink plenty of water during the antibiotic course, but avoid caffeinated drinks. Your doctor may order a urinalysis again after a few days, or after you’ve completed the treatment.

It is sometimes necessary to admit an infant younger than 6 months old with severe urinary tract infections. It is crucial to hospitalize a child if he or she is dehydrated, has a kidney infection, or if the infection has spread. Hospitalization can ensure close monitoring and appropriate medication and treatment.


For toddlers, change diapers regularly so they don’t get urinary tract infections because it reduces bacterial spread. Teach potty-trained children proper hygiene, which includes wiping from front to back, especially for girls.

By wearing cotton underwear and avoiding bubble baths, bacteria growth can be reduced and irritation can be avoided. Taking the time to teach kids that they shouldn’t “hold it in” when they have to urinate is also critical. Bacteria are attracted to an environment created by urine in the bladder that stays there for a long period of time.

You can found more details about the prevention of urine infections in children by reading our article: How to prevent urine infection in children.

The right time to call the doctor

Call your doctor if your toddler is still exhibiting symptoms after taking the full course of antibiotics. There might be an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed by retesting the urine and/or performing other tests.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor immediately:

  • It is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for your child
  • An illness that is accompanied by shaking chills is plaguing your child
  • There is a pain in your child’s bladder when urinating
  • There is a bad odor or blood in the urine

Urinary tract infections can cause discomfort, but early diagnosis and treatment will alleviate symptoms. Typically, symptoms start to improve within four to five days after starting antibiotics. During the first week following treatment, the vast majority of UTIs are cured.

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