Pedialyte for Babies and Breastfeeding

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Do Babies who are Breastfed need Pedialyte when Ill?

Viral gastroenteritis is quite common during the winter months. Not only is it common, but very contagious. It cannot be treated with antibiotics and needs just to run its course, but the worst of it is usually over within 48 hours.

The most significant concern during an infection is dehydration, especially in babies. Vomiting and diarrhea will cause fluid loss. These fluids need to be replaced.

Water on its own cannot replace the electrolytes that your baby needs. Babies who are formula fed are often taken off of their dairy formulas, which cause intestinal irritation and are given Pedialyte instead; this is usually done for 24 hours. Fortunately, this method of dealing with dehydration is not applicable to breastfed babies.

Why? Breastmilk is entirely different from any dairy or soy-based formula, containing no large protein molecules and is easily digested. It is so easily digested, that some of it is absorbed before your baby has a chance to vomit or poop. Breastmilk contains all the electrolytes and concentrated nutrients that your baby needs. Pedialyte has no nutritional value.

Your breastmilk wins hands down when compared to Pedialyte for babies. In fact, giving a breastfed baby Pedialyte instead of breastmilk may actually delay healing!

Let's also not forget that breastmilk contains antibodies that fight off any viruses! Pedialyte has no antibodies.

Babies who get intestinal viruses should continue to nurse. Not just continue, but should nurse more often and especially throughout the night. Short, frequent feeds are recommended. No temporary weaning is necessary. Your baby gets to stay at the breast and enjoy the comfort that he/she knows. There is no better way to comfort your baby.

Another good reason to continue breastfeeding; your baby would likely take in more fluids via breastmilk than any other form of feeding via the mouth. 

If oral rehydration therapy is needed during an infection (usually due to a low milk supply), breastfeeding should continue. Something to keep in mind though is that some flavors of Pedialyte may contain artificial sweeteners and flavors, which you might choose to avoid.

Here is an oral rehydration formula put together by the World Health Organization (WHO). This rehydration recipe has saved hundreds of thousands of babies around the world.

Oral Rehydration Formula
(measure exactly!)

  • 1 teaspoon sodium chloride (table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • 4 teaspoons potassium chloride (salt substitute)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1-quart water

If your baby can drink anything at all, it should be breastmilk. In rare cases, if a baby is unable to keep any breastmilk down at all, he/she should be seen by a doctor, because then IV fluids will be necessary.

Use breast milk popsicles as an extra fluid boost, and these are helpful when you have older children who could do with an immune boost too. 

Dehydration Signs in Babies

Watch for any signs of dehydration in a baby:

  • A fever.
  • Small amounts of urine or no urine at all for 12 hours.
  • Refusal to breastfeed.
  • Dark urine instead of yellow.
  • Sleeping all the time or extreme fussiness.
  • A sunken in fontanel (soft spot on head)

If you notice any of these symptoms or if you feel something isn't right, it's best to contact your doctor, preferably a “breastfeeding friendly" doctor.

Wootan Feeding Technique to Prevent Dehydration

Here is a Wootan technique used to keep as much breast milk in the breastfed baby’s stomach as possible. This technique helps to prevent dehydration in breastfed babies.

If your baby has only diarrhea and no vomiting you should just nurse as much as possible. Don't worry about timing.

It is more serious when a baby is vomiting, and if you breastfeed following this pattern below, it should prevent dehydration:

Breastfeed for 15 seconds, wait 15 minutes. If the baby has not vomited again, continue:

Breastfeed for 30 seconds, wait 14 minutes.

Breastfeed for 35 seconds, wait 13 minutes.

Breastfeed for 40 seconds, wait 12 minutes.

Breastfeed for 45 seconds, wait 11 minutes.

Breastfeed for  50 seconds, wait 10 minutes.

Breastfeed for 55 seconds, wait 9 minutes.

Breastfeed for 1 minute, wait 8 minutes.

Breastfeed for 65 seconds, wait 7 minutes.

Breastfeed for 70 seconds, wait 6 minutes.

Breastfeed for 75 seconds, wait 5 minutes.

Breastfeed for 80 seconds, wait 4 minutes.

Breastfeed for 85 seconds, wait 3 minutes.

Breastfeed for 90 seconds, wait 2 minutes.

Breastfeed for 95 seconds, wait 1 minute. If the baby has not vomited again at this point, s/he should be safe to resume breastfeeding on demand. If vomiting begins again, repeat the cycle starting at 15 seconds of nursing to 15 minutes of waiting and so on.

Babies under the age of two should not be forced to eat any solids. They can breastfeed exclusively for as long as they wish. Older children can be brought back to a normal diet gradually within the course of 2 - 4 days. 


  • Drmomma - Rehydration recipe for vomiting baby

  • - Pedialyte for babies that are breastfed

  • - How do I know if my baby is dehydrated -

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