I started making my own pedialyte mostly out of desperation.
Most babies and toddlers put things in their mouths frequently. Personally, my kid likes to lick things. Either way, lots of germs and nasties get passed around. It’s like licking roulette. And when she started a new daycare with more kids and more things to lick, I couldn’t survive without tylenol, tissues, and pedialyte.
Inevitably, you run out of one of those things and the trifecta is broken. And it’s late at night. And you’re sick too. And so is your husband. And the dog can’t go to the store for you because dogs don’t drive even if your toddler says they do.
What’s so magical about pedialyte anyway? My tired eyes staring at the back of the empty carton, it contains:
45 mEq Sodium
20 mEq Potassium (potassium chloride electrolyte)
25 g Dextrose (sugar)
So I began to think more about this and do a little research.
We use pedialyte (or any electrolyte drink for that matter) to help with the absorption of water. It’s basically just a mix of sugar, salt and potassium. The salt is what helps with the absorption of water. The advanced varieties also throw in some prebiotics, which aid the good bacteria in the digestive tract. Of note, sucrose (table sugar) is not used in pedialyte because it can increase dehydration. Pedialyte does use artificial sweeteners in their flavored drinks, but we won’t be needing that. With respect to salt-potassium-sugar ratios, it is higher in salt and potassium and lower in sugar compared to gatorade.
One teaspoon of table salt is equivalent to 110 mEq. So we need a little less than 1/2 teaspoon, but definitely more than 1/4 teaspoon of salt per liter of water to meet the sodium content. Sea salt would be a good choice as it is more natural and contains additional minerals. Baking soda contains sodium, so that could work too. Baking soda contains less sodium than table salt, so you’d need to use at least 1/2 teaspoon.
One mEq is about 75 mg of potassium. To get 20 mEq, you’d need about 1500 mg. Unfortunately, most of the foods that are high in potassium (nuts, beans, leafy greens) would be difficult to get into a drink. One banana has about 800 mg and one cup of coconut water has 600 mg.
If you’ve ever tasted pedialyte, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not very sweet. Dextrose (glucose) is much less sweet than sucrose (granulated sugar) and is sold as crystals or powder. It’s actually sold by nutrition stores and used as a post-workout supplement by body builders. The average person probably doesn’t have it laying around in the cupboard. Honey is an excellent source of dextrose. 3 1/2 tablespoons of honey equals 25.41 grams of dextrose. Although honey does contain some sucrose, it’s a negligible amount, less than 1 gram. Honey is not recommended for babies under twelve months.
Apricot Pedialyte Recipe (6 mos+)
Apricots are a good source of potassium and glucose.
- Water (filtered)
- scant 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2-3/4 cup dried apricots (depending on your tastes)
Place dried apricots in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of filtered water. Bring to a simmer and cook just until apricots are plump. Puree until very smooth. Add a little less than 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to puree. Mix with 3 1/2 cups of filtered water. Yields a little more than 1 liter.
Pedialyte Recipe with Honey (12 mos+)
- 1 liter water (filtered)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons pure honey
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix honey with a few tablespoons of hot water until dissolved. Add baking soda and stir until dissolved. Mix into 1 liter of filtered water.