Patient Information

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in children


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This is for anyone who thinks their baby or child may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs are common in children, especially girls. They can usually be treated easily with antibiotics.  It is important to diagnose urine infections to prevent any long-term problems. This often involves collecting a urine sample from your baby or child.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Your baby or child may have a UTI if you notice one or more of the following:

  • they appear generally unwell and tired
  • they are not feeding as much as usual, are unusually sleepy or difficult to comfort
  • they have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees C or above)
  • they need to wee suddenly or more often than usual, or deliberately hold in their wee
  • they have a pain or a burning sensation when weeing
  • their urine is smelly or cloudy or contains blood
  • they change their toileting habits, including urine accidents (both day and night time)
  • they have pain in the lower tummy.

What action do I take if I think my baby or child has a UTI?

Make an urgent GP appointment or call 111.

Your GP or healthcare professional will probably ask you to collect a urine sample from your child, using a sterile sample pot. Your GP surgery will give you the sample pot.

How do I collect a urine sample from my baby or child?

Collecting a urine sample is not always easy. The best samples are ‘clean catch’ where the child wees directly into the sample pot.  Do not use a urine bag or pad to catch the urine first, because this often gives an unreliable test result. 

To ‘clean catch’ a urine sample using a specimen pot, do the following
First, wash your hands.
If you have a baby, remove their nappy.  Clean your baby’s genitalia using a wipe (always wipe from front to back).
Open the specimen pot. Remember not to touch inside the pot (as it is sterile).
Wait until your baby or child wees into the pot, then apply the lid securely.  This may take some time and patience. Let your GP know if you are struggling to get a clean sample.
Get the sample tested at your GP or clinic as soon as possible (while the sample is freshest).
If you can’t get to your GP or clinic straight away, you can store the urine sample in a fridge at home for up to 24 hours. (Put the specimen pot inside a sealed bag).

What happens when I give the urine sample to my GP?

Once your GP or clinic has the sample, they can make a simple dipstick test to find out if your child has a urine infection. Sometimes the urine sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. These lab results usually take 48 to 72 hours.


What treatment is available?

If a urine infection is diagnosed, your child or baby will need antibiotics. Your GP or clinic will decide which is most suitable for them, based on their age and any allergies. They will discuss these options with you.

Most babies or children get better quickly once antibiotics have started. Young babies may need to be given intravenous (via a vein) antibiotics in hospital.  Antibiotics for children are usually in syrup form, but can be in tablet form for older children. 

What can I do to care for my child at home?

Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids. Avoid fizzy or caffeinated drinks.

Manage a fever with paracetamol (for example Calpol) or ibuprofen (for example Neurofen). See link to fever leaflet in the More Information section.

Ensure they wipe carefully after using the toilet, always from front to back.

What if my baby or child does not get better with antibiotics?

Babies under 6 months old, and children of any age with frequent or unusual urine infections, may need other tests to look for any underlying reason for the infection.

These tests include an ultrasound kidney scan or a ‘dye’ scan. A dye scan is done some months after the infection has cleared up to assess how well your child’s kidneys are working. If these tests are necessary, your GP will discuss them with you.

A small number of children may need to be given antibiotics through a drip (a small plastic tube that sits in a vein). This will be carried out in hospital. 

How can I stop my baby or child from getting urine infections again?

Ensure they drink plenty of fluids (water/squash, not caffeinated drinks).

Encourage them to wee regularly.

Take action to avoid constipation by encouraging them to eat a diet high in fibre. Fruit, vegetables and grains are high-fibre foods. Make sure they drink plenty of water and poo regularly.

Ensure they wipe from front to back after going to the toilet (especially girls).

Avoid giving them scented bubble baths.

Encourage them to wear cotton underwear (avoid underwear made of synthetic fibres).

More information

NHS logo
NHS information on urinary tract infections UTIs)
QR code for NHS info on UTIs
NHS logo
NHS information on fever (high temperature) in children
QR code for NHS info on high fever

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Urinary tract infection (UTI) in children - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


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