Gastro is going around so this is a great recipe for if/when it hits your home!
During my years working in the paediatric ED, I’ve dispensed LITERS and LITERS of conventional bubble gum flavoured pedialyte, but did you know you can make it at home yourself minus the artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium, an artificial sweetener that changes the gut microbiome and increases inflammation (PMC5464538) not ideal in general but especially not while sick!) and food dyes?
The main goal when our children are sick is to prevent dehydration, which is defined by as excessive body loss of water and electrolyte abnormalities most commonly caused by vomiting and diarrhoea. Sadly, your child can be mildly dehydrated without any outward signs! In fact, it isn’t until your child has already lost 10% of their body fluids before you may start to notice things like increased heart rate, fast breathing, and irritability.
Pedialyte restores mineral loss after vomiting and diarrhoea. If your child has mild gastroenteritis with minimal dehydration, then half strength apple juice has been shown to be a suitable alternative (PMC27131100). The study found that apple juice was associated with less complications (such as the need for hospitalisation and IV therapy) than when an electrolyte maintenance fluid was used.
Instead of sitting in a GPs office or the ED forcing pedialyte into your tired irritable child, you can safely try this at home and then escalate care if needed. It is often tolerated better and is usually something you’ll be able to access from the supermarket if pharmacies are closed.
As a general rule of thumb, try to replace the same amount of fluid they lose whether it is in the form of diarrhoea or vomiting, and then provide at least 2 tbs an hour as maintenance (PMC3460795).
During a rehydration phase, fluid is given at a rate of 5 ml per minute, by teaspoon or syringe (25ml/5 min), because the small volumes decrease the risk of vomiting.
Always watch for signs of dehydration such as dry mucosa in the mouth, absent tears, sunken eyes & fontanelles (on babies), decreased urine output (count wet nappies) and seek help if your vomiting child is not able to tolerate any fluids at all as they may need either nasogastic or even IV hydration.
Note: this recipe is not appropriate for children under 6 months of age.
- 1 cup of organic apple juice
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
- Warm the water on the stovetop but do not bring to boil. Mix the pink salt in the warmed water until dissolved.
- Add the apple juice to the warmed water. Stir well. Store in a mason jar in the fridge and shake before serving.
It is better to serve beverages at room temperature than cold so there is less work for the body to warm the fluids before digestion.
Other fluids that you can offer include homemade kombucha, bone broth or the good old iceblock (again I cannot count the number of lemonade iceblocks I’ve handed out to entice a child to increase their fluids), which is especially effective and cooling if your child also has a fever.
*for educational purposes only