As soon as you notice that your child
has diarrhea, it is important to take action to prevent
Oral rehydration solutions (ORSs) are used to prevent or correct dehydration
in young children. ORSs contain the right mix of salt, sugar, potassium, and
other minerals to help replace body fluids lost from diarrhea. It may be wise
to keep some ORS on hand so that if your child develops diarrhea, you can start
replacing lost fluids immediately. ORS will help prevent dehydration, but it
will not stop the diarrhea.
The amount of ORS your child needs
depends on the severity of his or her dehydration. The more severe the
dehydration, the more ORS you will need to give your child.
Newborns and babies through 1 year of age
signs of dehydration develop to replace lost
fluids. Signs of dehydration include your baby being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual.
- If you breast-feed your
baby, feed your baby more often to replace lost fluids. Give an
oral rehydration solution (ORS) between feedings only if signs of dehydration
- If you use a bottle to feed your
baby, increase the number of feedings to make up for lost fluids. The amount of
extra fluid your baby needs depends on your baby's size and the severity of his
or her diarrhea. For example, a newborn may need as little as
1 fl oz (30 mL) at each extra
feeding, while a 12-month-old baby may need as much as
3 fl oz (90 mL) at each extra
feeding. Give an ORS between feedings only if signs of dehydration develop.
- If signs of mild
or moderate dehydration develop,
the amount of breast milk, formula, or ORS your baby needs depends on his or
her weight and the degree of dehydration present. You can give the ORS in a
dropper, spoon, or bottle. Continue to give the ORS until your baby's stools
return to normal.
- If your baby has started eating cereal, you may
replace lost fluids with cereal. Offer the cereal mixture after each diarrhea
stool. You may also offer any other foods that your child has had
Children 1 year through 11 years of age
- Oral rehydration solution (ORS) or plain water (if the child is eating food) may be
used to replace fluids lost from diarrhea.
- Offer your child
0.5 cup (120 mL) to
1 cup (240 mL) of fluids after
each diarrhea stool.
- Allow your child to drink as much fluid as he
or she wants.
- If diarrhea is persistent or if your child is
dehydrated, using an ORS as the main source of
replacement fluids is the safest approach.
amount of ORS your child needs depends on his or her
weight and the degree of dehydration present.
- Keep giving the ORS
until your child's stools return to normal.
- If your baby is eating a cereal mixture, it can also be used to replace lost fluids.
Offer 0.5 cup (120 mL) to
1 cup (240 mL) of the cereal
mixture after each diarrhea stool.
- Give your child frequent small meals,
at least 6 a day, while he or she is having diarrhea.
- The best foods for your child are easily
digestible foods, such as rice cereal, pasta, breads, cooked beans, mashed
potatoes, cooked carrots, applesauce, and bananas.
- Pretzels or
salty crackers can help your child replace the salt lost from
- Foods containing large amounts of sugar or fat should be