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 your little one recovering from the stomach bug… And in case you are not familiar with Pedialyte, it’s a hydration solution that is meant to offset the effects (such as vomiting or diarrhea) of illnesses like the flu.

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 (Gatorade or other sports drinks often come up as another electrolyte solution but it’s also full of artificial sweeteners and dyes).

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 better choices on fast rehydration. 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 (N-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” N-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. You could also pour this solution into freezer pop molds and make homemade Pedialyte popsicles.

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 table 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.

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379 thoughts on “Rehydrating Your Child Naturally: Homemade Pedialyte”

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  1. This recipe really SHOULD include either added potassium for proper rehydration and a touch of zinc is not a bad idea either.
    Coconut water, 1/3 cup has 200 mg potassium and about 1/4 tsp sugar – so a great option if you add a bit of salt to it.

  2. This is the WHO formula from the WHO website (link shown below or go to WHO website ( and in the search type in ‘oral rehydration salts’)

    Sodium chloride (table salt) . . . . . . . . 3.5g
    Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)………………. 2.5 g
    Potassium chloride ………………….. 1.5 g
    G l u c o s e ………………….. ……………………………….. 20.2 g
    Dissolve in one litre of potable water

  3. Suclarose, is the ingredient in the low calorie sweetener, Splenda. Splenda causes diarrhea in some adults, so I couldn’t imagine how much worse it could be on a baby, especially a baby, whom already has diarrhea. Also, coconut water has a laxative effect too, with that being said, I’d be very careful with both. I just rely on good old Gatorade!! I know, I know, the sugar, the artificial colors, all that, but to give only when needed, and not all the time, I think it’s ok, I have always bought my girls the red Gatorade when they were sick. Also, I would give them a couple saltines, and I’d Keep bananas on hand, both items help immensely with dehydration, the belly aches, and the much needed potassium. BLESSINGS ALL

  4. Jenna I agree with you. Pedialyte contains potassium and zinc in very specific quantities and sugar and salt water doesn’t cover those two ions. I can’t see how anyone can read a pedialyte recipe and see 3/4 electrolytes along with sugar listed and think a recipe that covers sugar and 1 electrolyte is a suitable replacement. It just doesn’t make sense if you have any of the common variety.
    Maybe Jenna asked for the original blog post from WHO because all a Google search reveals is more blogs like this one saying it is from WHO. And the link posted here sends you to the first site to claim it is from WHO but doesn’t provide the actual link.
    This site that the original blogger posted (from also says because you are using sugar and salt water the child should be taking a additional zinc supplement. I did not find this information listed on this blog post anywhere….reading is key people!

    I did however find a blog that sent you to WHO’s original pdf of ORS’ and what do you know, it contains NOTHING of a homemade recipe. It advises 3rd world countries on the manufacturing of ORS with all the electrolytes found in pedialyte.

    Maybe you guys are the one that need to step up your research.

  5. M-Kristin Fältmarsch

    Jenna, my question was, what would you have done if your children’s hospital recommended a thick sugary soup like juice, your child refuses to drink, there is no such thing as pedialyte, and your regular doctor says more or less the same, sugar, as long as she is getting sugar she is rehydrating and not starving!!! They figured her activity was a good sign, she is extrememly active, so to me that was no measure of how she was doing, they still recommended sugar water, or very sugary juices,
    So…Q: if in the same situation and peadialyte just didn’t exist where you live, would you not use this ever so helpful recipe?
    I can hardly wait to get back to North America.

    As per the rest of your message, It is very evident that there are doctors out there that are not so rotten as not ripe apples. I find that there are too many hands in the pot and we or our children get diagnosed with 20 things by interns long before the real diagnoses is too obvious to a more seasoned practioner.
    To that note, with my first child was healthy but had infant Athsma, scared the bleepers out of me, but she was my first, she ended up with an odd array of allergies, mold & mildew the worst, there were no anit hystaimes for her, we just had to be very careful. As a result of being mis diagnosed and 3 different medications being given to her one after the next, I thougt what’s happening here? I became afraid there was something horrible under it all, I just on a whim took her to a naturopathic doctor, I say doctor because she was just that a medical doctor pediatrician for years before going the natural direction.

    At that I am now one to believe that if the two natural practitioners and medical doctors n staff, would greatly benefit the patient! I think it may even save money for both the medical communities and their patients. Not nly that but it wouldn’t take so very long in some cases years to properly diagnose patients, it would definately decrease the testing of drugs on patients, side effects etc, need not be too much of a fear….I could go on about this, take up your entire week, however I doubt it would make a huge impact! LOL
    I GUESS AFTER ALL OF THIS, I merelt needed to point out that it was of no harm to my 2 year old using this recipe here, where pedialyte is completely absent. I prefer this recipe over a sugary liquid diet. This homemade recipe was extremely helpful and saved us from the aweful trip to the hospital. I suppose just making a quick (lol) point that in our case… It worked great!!!

  6. I was excited to find this recipe because Pedialyte is expensive and does taste bad. The one thing is that I looked at the World Health Organization link you provided on Oral Rehydration Solutions and unfortunately, the recipe here does not include some of the rehydrating elements of the WHO recipe. I do see where your recipe is listed in the Rehydration Project link, and I do think your recipe is useful, especially if used instead of plain water. I would just include a note somewhere that it isn’t quite the same as the Oral Rehydration Solutions recommended by the WHO, and maybe that this is better at treating only mild dehydration, not moderate (or severe, but you already mention that)?

    I think adding coconut water like you mention would be good too since that will add potassium, one of the missing ingredients.

    One good thing I found while researching is that it sounds like some pharmacies carry ORS packets you can buy which presumably don’t contain the extra ingredients in Pedialyte. I don’t get why they put sucralose in there when the second ingredient is sugar!

  7. What you are doing here is very dangerous. Pedialite was formulated specifically to replenish essential electrolytes. Your sugar/salt water mix won’t come close to giving dehydrated children the electrolytes they need.
    Because of you, I’m sure many children will end up in the hospital with severe dehydration who wouldn’t have otherwise.
    Please stop posting medical advice, as you are not a medical professional.

    1. Hi, Jenna. Maybe you should direct your outrage towards the World Health Organization, since it is their recipe being shared in this blog post. I have also used this same recipe with the blessing of my pediatrician who said it would do the same job as Pedialyte. Her medical advice is worth much more to me than yours. In addition, that label pictured above lists TWO artificial sweeteners that have been proven unsafe for children and a completely unnecessary food dye that is banned in many other countries due to questions about safety in children. In short, those of us who are a bit more informed about the actual ingredients and who see no reason to give our already-sick children artificial sweeteners and dyes appreciate having a medically proven alternative. Have a nice day.

      1. Can you send me the source from the World Health Organization that you got this recipe from.
        Also, can you send me the original research articles that proved the harm of artificial sweeteners? I have never read of evidence proving the harm of them.

    2. Jenna, I live in Sweden, my 2 year old is extremely picky about anything she puts near her mouth…she wasvery ill as a newborn, she is fne now, however she has a flu bug, I am Canadian and have been from Finland and back by car with our family and one very feverish sick baby,
      NEITHER COUNTRY HAS PEDIALYTE, she needed to be hospitalized over night on our way home from Finland, because I didn’t know how to rehydrate her. I am the mother of 4 the first one raised in Canada with all the good stuff, I once called it, baby gravol, baby tylenol, not a,ways using horrible bottom pills, and yes Pedialyte…here in Sweden, NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE EVEN LEGAL!!! Gravol for anyone??? Sea sick maybe? Here is your magnetic anti motion sickness bracelette. That is all you get here. I can not think of any countries that takes better care of their children than Scandinavian Countries.
      At times far too old fashioned for my mothering flavour but think on this, health care for any child under 16? Absolutely free, no health plan, no monthly plan, no government plan no doctors fees, NOTHING PAID…these are after all children that deserve only the best of the best!

      Q: are you a Medical Professional?

      1. M-Kristin Fältmarsch

        Ok, if you are a doctor or a nurse s it not your actual job to find the best possible way to treat a patient by oath?, I studied psychology, so I actually do NOT know your spectrum of oaths entirely… I am curious, what would you do for your own child at the age of 2, on an overnight road trip? Drug store all about even on the ship/ferry between both countries? When we had our baby in the hospital, they gave me some thick serious sugary drnk for my baby to drink, right! Pear juice only or water, they put a pinch of salt and a packet of sugar in her juice. She had one taste and she took 3 weeks to trust me giving her juice again, only took it from her father, all they said while she couldn’t eat, was give her sugar, they also said she’s active so she’s fine, it will take it’s course. Our 2 yr old surpasses all our other children and now granchild in energy!!! She doesn’t stop until her head hits the pillow.
        What would you have done differently? I am at the mercy of Swedish health proffesionals. This pedialyte formula has help a great deal woth our baby, since my first comment, it is much better than waiting for her to get so ill and dehydrated that she becomes in danger and have to be taken to hospital, wouldn’t you think? I would love to get your opinion of just what you would do…this is my best answer…

      2. I’m a little confused as to what you’re asking, but I definitely understand what you are saying about being at the mercy of your medical professionals.
        I will be the first to admit that doctors are not God and they don’t know everything. They make mistakes. I just see an ever increasing mistrust in the medical community and it’s concerning. The medical community does its best to base it’s decisions off of the best evidence possible at the time, and I wish people didn’t have such a negative view of us. We really are working in our patient’s best interest. There are a few bad apples, but that doesn’t mean the entire batch is spoiled.
        In your situation I would always consult a Pediatrician when it comes to your children and get a second opinion when your mother instinct tells you something isn’t right.

    1. I’ve made ORS with the linked recipe multiple times, and the original says you can use any kind of sugar. In fact, I use molasses because it has more potassium and iron. My daughter (somehow) loves it. I’ve tried it and it tastes terrible, but so does Pedialyte, ha.

  8. Thanks for this! I just got the gastro my son had and I tried some of the leftover pedialyte. SO GROSS! It was no wonder he didn’t want to drink it. I’ll keep this on file for next time!

    1. Sugar generally doesn’t “feed germs” unless there is an underlying reason why your body can’t process it. Besides, sugar is actually an essential component of an ORS. At the right concentration it increases absorption of water significantly.

      Honestly, I dont know if there is much difference between using glucose (simplest sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), or sucrose (table sugar) but given a choice I would use glucose and a relatively unprocessed sea-salt.

  9. Thanks so much for this! My kids hated the store options too so I just made do with a made in my head sub and as a last resort, an icee pop (or fun pop or otter pop, depending on where you live). This is great. My kids are grown, but for medical reasons I now need it too. All the nutritionist said was Pedialyte, Gatorade or juice would be OK. grrr.. We are pretty much a real food family.
    Follow up questions:
    !) did Dr. Jill M. ever reply to clarify her formula measurements and her raspberry vinegar recipe? I am an adult and I love vinegar on just about anything. However I found you after finding the WHO website formula updates adjusting my google search to use their words and YAY! Here you are. That said, the WHO and a few other sites i found before this were very cautious about formula precision. 1 liter ml is my total of any liquid per day, but occasionally I get put on a 1 liter with only 16 ounces of water per day and that is really when I struggle with dehydration since I have always loved good clean water.
    2)how long will the formula keep in the fridge?
    3)have you ever tried putting it in little dixie cups in the freezer? I know the freezer does change some substances constitutions. I would have no clue if this would be OK to freeze or would adjustments need to be made?
    4)where/how did you find your nutritionist Dr Sheila Kilbane and Dr. Jill M? I have yet to find someone like these ladies in my area and I guess I do not even know where to begin looking…
    Again, this started off my day brighter than yesterday! Thank you! I needed that:)

  10. I just found another alternative to Pedialyte that you can buy already made and is natural, no preservatives, organic and it tastes pretty good! It is from Ella’s Kitchen. It is coconut water electrolyte* drink with pears + berries. It’s for ages 1+. It looks like they have one other flavor too. I gave some of the clear unflavored Pedialyte to my son and he had several sips of it, but made a face and shook his head after every one. I gave him the Ella’s Kitchen one and he drank it right up! I thought I should share as this was my first time needing something like this for my son and wasn’t feeling good about the options. Based on this post and what a lot of you mentioned, this looks like another option to Pedialyte and making at home.

  11. WARNING!! Do not give honey to a child under 1 year of age!!
    Dr Jill Moncilovich, PhD |
    June 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    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.

  12. Beware Unnecessary Artificial Ingredients
    We’ve been trying to help my mom rehydrate and get enough calories during a bad reaction to Chemotherapy.
    Many people who really care about her, including nurses and doctors, recommended pedialyte and ensure. Her diarrhea, nausea and vomiting continued. It wasn’t until she was in the hospital on intravenous fluid and nutrition that she began to recover.
    My dad finally figured out that both pedialyte and ensure contain the artificial sweetener “Splenda” (“Sucralose”), to which my mom is allergic.

  13. Brilliant! My son is allergic to corn…so anything with corn syrup is out (corn is in almost everything – medications and all). You provided an answer I needed right away for my sick little guy. I ended up using the coconut water anyway, just added the salt and sugar. Thank you!!!

  14. A few tips to add to the conversation: I keep mulched up ginger in my freezer, which is easy to add to my homemade (warm) drinks. I also keep a jar of sole around, and it’s easy to toss in a tsp when I need to get salt and minerals into a drink (for my toddler or myself!). A good solution for people trying to work salt into their own homemade pedialyte recipes!
    Ginger —
    Sole —

  15. 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.

    1. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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)

  18. 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).

  19. 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!

  20. 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 =)

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. If coconout water is missing sodium, cant one just add some salt to it?

    So what is a good drink to rehydrate? Not sure I want the sugar water.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Stacy. The is the World Heath Organization’s formula but I suppose you could add sodium to coconut water, too.

  24. RE the home pedialyte receipt.
    I wonder if it shall not be one litre water, not a quarter…

    Also, glucose sugar is better than plain sugar. Although common sugar works too, if you dont have anything else.

  25. Someone left a comment about a product called DripDrop and I wanted to say thank you. Our 3yo threw up for around 18 hours, has had a low grade fever off and on, has had sinus. She’s had water, water, and more water b/c that’s what she mostly drinks. She’s eaten very little since throwing up and it’s been almost 5 days. We are trying DripDrop tomorrow – as long as she’ll drink it. I’ll report back and let you know how it works. Yes it does have some components we try to avoid, but if it means her body needs those, I’m all for it. I’ll let you know how it works.

  26. You need to consider that a lot of people (it’s high up on google’s search results) will visit this site and take what you’re saying as gospel (it’s in print; it has to be true!). The fact is, your recipe here is severely lacking. I’m guessing you’re not a chemist; that’s okay, I am. Pedialyte — which you’re claiming to reproduce in so many words — is not just sugary salt water. I came here looking for an equivalent recipe because I don’t want to pay $6 a liter for the stuff. But this recipe is just… wrong. Simple as that. Water, sugar, table salt. Okay, so where does the zinc come from? How about the citric acid? The potassium? You’re teaching people how to make sugary salt water. That is NOT pedialyte. That is sugary salt water.

    1. Wouldn’t the OJ add potassium as well as the citric acid? I would think you’d have to add more than she mentions here, but I am thinking adding about half OJ to half the water would increase the potassium level in this. I’m asking because I genuinely want to know, not to be argumentative.

  27. The reason the doctors office didn’t give you a home remedy is because home remedies like that one can be done wrong and if the doctor orders you to give an at home remedy like this one and you mess up the directions then the child gets sicker the doctor could be held liable.

  28. Thank you! I have been saving this recipe for a rainy day. My 2.5 yr old was sick all day yesterday. We mixed up some of this solution and she drank it in small sips. It seemed to really help and she started requesting more. She was totally fine with the plain flavor, as she does not drink juice. Thanks again!