Signs of a Bladder Infection in Toddlers

A bladder infection is an infection of the lower urinary tract, affecting the urine-receiving and -holding structure. The bladder receives the urine from the kidneys via tubes called ureters. The bladder becomes a reservoir for the urine until the signal to void is received from the brain. During voiding, urine leaves the body through a small tube, the urethra.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


A urinary tract infection (UTI) may be an infection of the bladder or of the kidneys. Of the two, bladder infections occur more often than kidney infections and are usually less severe. An untreated infection of the bladder may result in infection of the kidneys after a period.

Cardinal Signs

The urge to urinate frequently and burning or pain upon urination are the cardinal signs of a bladder infection.

Depending on the age and communication skills of the toddler, he may be able to tell you that it burns or hurts when he urinates, or that he feels that he needs to void frequently. Because these symptoms may be absent or the toddler may not able to communicate them, you need to be aware of other signs and symptoms of a bladder infection.

General Symptoms

The presence of fever in the absence of other symptoms may indicate an infection of the bladder. Dr. Spock relates that fever in one out of 20 toddlers will reveal an otherwise asymptomatic bladder infection.

Sometimes your toddler will just look sick to you, even though there is no fever present or other symptoms.

Irritability, especially when urinating and difficulty sleeping may be seen. This may be due to urgency, pain, or burning that the toddler is unable to understand or voice.

The toddler may develop nausea, vomiting or diarrhea when experiencing a bladder infection. If these symptoms last, dehydration may develop.

Urinary Symptoms

The toddler may experience a change in her voiding habits, may be reluctant to urinate or cry when urinating. Her urine may develop a foul odor or change in color, darkening or becoming cloudy. Dr. Spock advises that redness to the area surrounding the vagina may become red or irritated.


Testing will generally include a urinalysis and a urine culture and sensitivity test. The health care provider will likely obtain the urine specimen using a small catheter inserted into the toddler's urethra. Blood tests may be performed. Imaging studies of the toddler's urinary tract may be performed to rule out any physical abnormalities or anomalies.


According to the Merck Manual, treatment is aimed at resolving the infection, preventing a spread of the infection and preventing damage to the kidneys.