Rehydrating Your Child Naturally: Homemade Pedialyte

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…

Homemade Pedialyte from 100 Days of Real Food


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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  • Comments

    1. MARIA |

      Thanks for the recipe….There’s also a great powder called Ultima Replenisher, it provides the body with electrolytes and minerals and is made with real ingredients.

    2. Becca |

      Love the idea but unfortunately my daughter would not drink it :(

    3. Brenda |

      Pedialyte now makes a “clear” version that contains so artificial flavors or colors. I used it the last time my child was sick and could not find a recipe from a trusted website. My other suggestion would be to add a bit of flavoring (white grape juice for example and freeze into ice pops. My 2 year old liked eating the ice pops more than drinking it.

    4. |

      Wubba Water is an organic-certified electrolyte drink designed for kids when they are sick. No synthetic dyes, no artificial flavors/preservatives and only 1 gram of organic sugar/serving.
      http://www.wubbawater.com

      • |

        Available now at Whole Foods on Long Island!

    5. Kari |

      I’ll give you an even better recipe…4 cups of water, juice of 2 lemons, 1/4-1/2 tsp real sea salt, 1/4 cup raw honey (sub for sugar to taste for the littles under 1). You can play with the ratios to suit your tastes. I always double it, but usually keep the honey at 1/4 cup, sometimes a tablespoon more depending on how sour the lemons are. I make this anytime one of my littles is sick OR for a fun treat on a hot day where we’ll spend a lot of time outside. Enjoy =)

      • Jen |

        IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Children under the age of 1 should not be given honey. They risk being exposed to Botulism. Children over 1 have more developed stomachs that can likely fight off the Botulism risk.

        • Kari |

          Exactly why I said to sub in sugar for the littles under 1 ;-)

      • Irlanda |

        Great! My grandma use to give us this “Limonate”(spanish word) every time we was tummy sick she also add a pinch of baking soda.

    6. Kelly |

      This was an important topic for me because my son has Cystic Fibrosis and can get overheated quickly. Doctors have told me to use pedialyte and when he got older, Gatorade. I hate that stuff. So I’ve been searching for alternatives. The key is getting him enough salt. I found some recipes using organic juice but I’d rather make my own sports drink. I will try all these ideas and see what he likes best. Thanks!

    7. Jill |

      Thanks so much for this recipe! So much easier, cheaper, and natural than “real” pedialyte. I unfortunately had to use it tonight with my daughter, but it really helped, and she had no problems with the mild flavor (just tastes like slightly sweet water).

    8. Liz |

      Potassium is a critical electrolyte for rehydration. Table salt isn’t enough. I highly recommend adding some potassium chloride to your homemade Oral Rehyration Solution. It can be found as salt substitute at any grocery store. This is WHO’s recipe for ORS:

      WHO Oral Rehydration Solution

      Table Salt (NaCl) 1/2 tsp.
      Salt Substitute (KCl) 1/2 tsp.
      Baking Soda 1/2 tsp.
      Table Sugar 2 tablespoons
      Tap Water 1 Liter (= 1 Qt. 2 tablespoons)

    9. A |

      Pedialyte also contains zinc and glucose instead of sucrose. The zinc is probably not important for a mild issue, but not using straight glucose will be much less hydrating. Straight glucose is sold to diabetics for low blood sugar emergency use.

    10. Dr Jill Moncilovich, PhD |

      I don’t use the pediolyte — I use homemade raspberry vinegar [similar to and 18th Century recipe that I found some years ago. I make it with raw honey instead of sugar. It is taken 2 tablespoons in 8 oz of cool to room temperature water. The enzymes in the raspberries and the honey are wonderful to replenish the body from a dehydration [either hot weather or a tummy bug]. Taste is a sweet-tart sensation.

      • S |

        Dr. Moncilovich,

        Are you saying that you use the recipe that was given in the post but substitute honey for sugar and add 2 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar?

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