Gastroenteritis and dehydration: how to rehydrate baby?

Gastroenteritis and dehydration: how to rehydrate baby?

Alain SousaScience journalist
Published on , updated on
Medical validation: September 15, 2017
Dr Jesus CardenasAllergist

All babies under the age of 5 will one day get gastroenteritis. The main risk of this infection is dehydration. How to rehydrate your child? What should I make him drink? When to worry?... Our advice.

  1. Baby gastroenteritis: a risk of dehydration
  2. Signs of dehydration in babies
  3. Baby rehydration: The ORS solution
  4. How to give ORS?
  5. Baby gastroenteritis: the right reflexes

Each year, 300,000 episodes of acute diarrhea occur in children under 5 years of age, including 160,000 cases of severe diarrhea, causing 18,000 hospitalizations. The main risk is dehydration, which can sometimes be dramatic (13 to 14 deaths per year).

Baby gastroenteritis: a risk of dehydration

Gastro-entérite et déshydratation : comment réhydrater bébé ?

In case of gastroenteritis, the main risk in babies is dehydration. Indeed, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as fever promote the loss of water and mineral salts from his body.

In infants, dehydration can be very rapid and cause the baby to lose 10 to 15% of the weight. Indeed, water represents 65% of its weight and is essential for the proper functioning of its body.

It is therefore necessary to be very vigilant in the event of gastroenteritis in toddlers, and especially before the age of 6 months, when they are most at risk.

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Signs of dehydration in babies

If your child is affected by gastroenteritis, you must react. It is essential to consult your doctor if your infant:

Baby rehydration: The ORS solution

Baby rehydration usually goes through an oral rehydration solution (ORS) sold in pharmacies. This one is directly formulated for this purpose. This solution contains the right proportions:

They can be obtained without a prescription directly from the pharmacist, and are reimbursed if they are prescribed.

Apart from ORS, which should replace all drinks, baby's diet should be normal (feeding, milk bottles or meals depending on age). Indeed, it is essential that the baby regains strength to fight against gastroenteritis. Thereby :

How to give ORS?

ORS comes in the form of a powder sachet to be poured into water. Be careful to choose water with a low mineral content (water authorized for baby bottles) for dilution.

Do not add anything to the mixture, neither salt, nor sugar nor any other product.

For 6 hours: offer your child ORS several times an hour and in very small amounts, increasing gradually. Then let him drink ORS as much as he wants, as long as the diarrhea lasts.

If, on the other hand, he is not drinking, he is not very thirsty and may not be so dehydrated. Re-propose the solution to him an hour later.

If the child has a tendency to vomit, try giving it in small sips, spaced out 5 to 10 minutes apart. If the solution is fresh, it is better tolerated.

Note: an ORS solution that has already been mixed can be kept for a maximum of 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Baby gastroenteritis: the right reflexes

When baby suffers from gastroenteritis make an appointment with your doctor and adopt the right reflexes:

See also

infant gastroenteritis


No baby gastroenteritis!

Be careful not to give cola sodas and other sugary drinks as we sometimes hear. Not only will this be of no use but it can have harmful consequences for baby. Only ORS should treat dehydration.

Finally, note that the Rotarix and Rotateq vaccines, formerly recommended to prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis, no longer appear in the vaccination schedule. Indeed, in its opinion of April 21, 2015, the HCSP (High Council for Public Health) suspended the recommendation to vaccinate all infants due to the unfavorable evolution of certain reported cases of acute intussusception (death, bowel resections).