It’s 2 am and you are sound asleep. Your 11-month-old son starts crying hysterically and then vomits. He has a low-grade fever. It has been 3 hours and he vomits again. You are trying to give him some formula, but he doesn’t want to drink any of it. He looks ok and you are not concerned that you need to run to the Emergency Department, but you know that if you can’t him to drink any liquid soon, he will start getting dehydrated. What can you do?
You call the on-call nurse and she tells you to pick up some Pedialyte and give frequent small sips. You quickly Google Pedialyte and you see there are dyes and other ingredients you are not happy with. What now?
Can I Give WATER to Rehydrate?
A question I often get asked is whether you can just give water. The short answer is, NO, you can not. You can give some water at first if this is all you have because hydration with water is better than nothing, but it is important to not just give water. When your child vomits or has diarrhea, they are losing water and minerals like potassium and sodium so you need to replace this as well.
Do It Yourself Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) or use Pedialyte
I tell my families that they can make oral rehydration solution themselves at home. Of course, some families prefer the convenience of a ready-made solution like Pedialyte, and that is totally fine, but with a few simple steps, you can make something at home that is just as good without any of the additives.
Here is one, the very simple recipe for oral rehydration therapy and instructions on how to use it. Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s health, you should always consult your physician.
Preparing 1-liter solution using Salt, Sugar and Water at Home
- Six (6) teaspoons of Sugar
- Half (1/2) teaspoon of Salt
- One (1) liter of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled – (5 cupfuls, each cup about 200 ml.)
Mix the ingredients until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved, administer as follows.
How to Give ORT
Start with small amounts given by teaspoon every 15 to 20 minutes – if the solution is well tolerated, the volume can be increased.