Rehydrating Your Child Naturally: Homemade Pedialyte

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I get a lot of questions about this from readers and have also wondered myself…how do you rehydrate your sick child without succumbing to the artificial ingredients found in Pedialyte? Just ask any pediatrician across the country and they’ll likely say this is the beverage of choice when it comes to children recovering from the stomach bug…
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Homemade Pedialyte from 100 Days of Real Food

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I am not saying this drink won’t provide your sick child with some much needed nutrients (we’ve used it before ourselves years ago), but what about the unnecessary extras it comes with like artificial flavors, sweeteners, and color (yellow 6)? We’ve already discussed some disturbing facts about the artificial dyes that require a warning label in many countries outside of the US, but as far as I can tell there aren’t many acceptable rehydration alternatives that don’t contain them. And when I asked our pediatrician’s office if they could please recommend another option, since I wanted to avoid the questionable artificial ingredients in Pedialyte, they had no idea what I was talking about. I am honestly not sure why I was surprised.

So I decided to reach out to a local, board certified pediatrician, who is also trained in integrative medicine, for some advice. Dr. Sheila Kilbane shared with me that there is actually an alternative, and it’s a well-known recipe provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) called Oral Rehydration Salts/Solution (ORS). In so many words she said this solution was created for those in developing countries that can’t just run down the street to the nearest Piggly Wiggly to grab some Pedialyte. And after she explained it to me like that it made complete sense that there would be an acceptable, easy alternative to Pedialyte in existence. So I then went back to our regular pediatrician’s office and specifically asked if ORS would adequately replenish my child during a time of dehydration and this time they said “yes.” It’s amazing to me the amount of pull drug companies have on our doctors these days because Pedialyte is of course made by Abbott, one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies on the planet.

I’d like to share this “Homemade Pedialyte” ORS version with you today, but with one warning message…

Disclaimer: This recipe is recommended for children who are older than 1, generally healthy with properly functioning kidneys, and not experiencing severe dehydration or high fever (which would probably require direct medical attention anyhow). And, as always, follow your own doctor’s advice over anything you find on the internet!

Homemade Pedialyte Recipe

Mix together:

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Note: If you fear your child will think this drink is too plain consider adding in a couple splashes of orange Juice. Also, the sugar and salt may dissolve more easily if you warm up the water first.

I did also ask Dr. Kilbane about using coconut water for rehydration since it does contain some natural electrolytes, but the concern there is the lack of sodium. Your body needs the sodium to help you retain the liquid, otherwise it will just go right through you. You could potentially add 1/4 teaspoon salt and some OJ to coconut water to make sure both the sodium and sugar aspects are covered, but the recipe above is a sure thing.

Sponsor Shoutout: Plan to EatScreen Shot 2013-01-31 at 8.48.44 PM

Before I let you go I want to make sure you know about our meal planning and online recipe organization sponsor, Plan to Eat! Kiran from our team uses Plan to Eat religiously to help her plan her family’s meals each week. Their service allows you to pick your own recipes (either from your collection or websites – like ours! hint hint) and then they organize your selected recipes for the week into one concise plan along with a corresponding shopping list. And here’s something they have never offered before…Plan to Eat is giving all of our readers 30% off (!!) annual memberships through February 28, 2013 with the coupon code “EatRealFood”.

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264 comments to Rehydrating Your Child Naturally: Homemade Pedialyte

  • me

    Here’s the thing–salt does not replace electrolytes. Na+ and Cl- are electrolytes, but there are many more-Mg2+, Ca2+, HCO3-, K+ and a few others that are essential for muscle function, blood pH, brain activity, neuron communication— you know, life.

    Salt prevents your body from loosing water. The balance of salt (NaCl) on the inside of the cell vs. outside of the cell is changed when you are dehydrated. Cells get rid of water to try and keep the salt gradient in check. When you drink something with salt in it, you are trying to keep the fluid in the cell by correcting the imbalance.

  • J

    My son uses ORS everyday due to his media condition.

    Here is a great site that shows many ways to make a quick batch

    http://www.oley.org/lifeline/ORS.html

  • My 7 year old son recently caught a nasty stomach bug that was going around and was probably puking 20x a day. I took him to his family doctor where they basically told me I needed to go out and buy a can of chicken noodle soup and pediylate because he was dehydrated. I told her I would make my own soup & Pedialyte and she made me sound like an incompetent parent because I wasn’t going to purchase it like she recommended. She said something like “I don’t care if you put him back on his regular diet then he needs to have these things” I ignored it, thanked her and went on to thaw out chicken broth I already had in the freezer and mix the few ingredients your recipe for pedilyte called for. Plus a little coconut water. I couldn’t get the food & liquid in him fast enough so I decided to take him to the ER anyway. He could barely walk on his own from the dehydration and he had lost 5 lbs at this point. One of the nurses again suggested getting him to drink. She said “How about Pedialyte & Apple juice mixed together?” I said I prefer him not to have these things, I brought my own that I made at home. She asked what was in it and went to consult one of the doctors about the ingredients. Apparently it was okay but the kid hadn’t eaten in 4 days and his stomach wasn’t up to the amount of liquid they needed him to consume in a short amount of time. His heart rate way too high and they ended up needed to give him an IV anyway. Before we left another one of the doctrs against recommended going to buy a can of chicken noodle soup where I repeated that I made my own. I told her I used the carcus of the chicken along with a bunch of vegetables. She said what about salt? One thing the cans contain are a lot of salt. I said yes I used garlic salt. She said well regular salt contains iodine I assured her I only use organic ingredients. So basically she was concerned about the type of salt I used but not the fact that she just suggested I buy junk out of a can. Basically I just wanted to share my story so people know how much the healthcare industry will push you to do the norm and you need to stick up for your rights and your children even in a scary time. So this Pediylate recipe is in fact several doctors approved and don’t be afraid to refuse store bought pedialyte next time someone suggests it to you.

  • Kerri

    My son has severe leg cramps at night and drinks a small amount (4 oz??) of Gatorade or Powerade every night mixed with 8 oz of water to help ward off the cramps. Do you think this drink would serve a similar purpose? We have gone to dye-free sports drinks but it still has tons of other stuff in it.

  • Layla

    The cramps are possibly being helped by the potassium in the Gatorade. Try having him eat a banana after dinner.

  • Jessica

    My kids love anything in popsicle form- I’m sure if I froze this they’d be pretty happy when sick. I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

  • Cat

    Thank you for this! Neither of my kids would ever drink Pedialyte, they didn’t like the sweetness or the texture (thicker than water, juice or Gatorade). I tried to drink it once and can’t say I blame them.

    I have relied on broth or watered down juice. Didn’t realize the importance of salt. Will try this version next time.

  • Courtney

    Thank you! I live in a rural area and it is quite a trek to go to the store especially while trying to care for a sick one. I usually have these ingredients on hand. So much easier!

  • Michele

    Has anyone used coconut water in place of pedialyte? I have read that coco water naturally has lots of potassium and other electrolytes.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Michele. If you read through the comments, you will see others readers comments on coconut water. :) It is often used to replace sports drinks, as well. ~Amy

  • Antonio

    The reason your doctor didn’t know what you’re talking about when you mentioned artificial ingredients is because you’re just talking non sense. You think sugar, and salt aren’t processed? You think they’re 100% natural? Don’t worry about the petty things. They don’t matter in the long run.

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  • Natural Mom

    I think it’s worth mentioning that there is now a version of Pedialyte with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or dyes. Its ingredients say: Water, Dextrose, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid and Zinc Gluconate. I am not a doctor, but I know salt contains sodium and not potassium which is also very important so I think the ORS may be lacking in some ways. I use the home remedy when its just a stomach bug with no signs of dehydration, but since my toddler woke up this morning acting listless with dry eyes and mouth I was very happy to find this dye-free pedialyte at my local Publix.

    • Isabel

      The actual ORS recipe has potassium chloride and sodium bicarbonate in it too. To get the potassium chloride look for a ‘salt substitute’ and the bi-carb is just bi-carb (or baking) soda.

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