How should I care for my child suffering from viral gastroenteritis?

Diana K. Blythe, MD

Caring for a child with viral gastroenteritis is mostly about keeping them hydrated and replacing the electrolytes they are losing. Start with sips of Pedialyte. If sips are tolerated, start increasing the amount slowly.

Once your child can take Pedialyte with ease, try bland foods. Continue to increase the foods, just stay away from juices and spicy foods. In addition, some kids are sensitive to cow's milk products after having diarrhea. If they crave milk, try a soy milk until they feel better. 

Keep them hydrated, and if they have stopped urinating or have decreased urine, they need to see their doctor.


Children with viral gastroenteritis present special concerns. Because of their smaller body size, infants and children are at greater risk of dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting. Oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte can replace lost fluids, minerals, and salts.

The following steps may help relieve the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis:

Allow your gastrointestinal tract to settle, by not eating for a few hours. Sip small amounts of clear liquids or suck on ice chips if vomiting is still a problem. Give infants and children oral rehydration solutions to replace fluids and lost electrolytes. Gradually reintroduce food, starting with bland, easy-to-digest food, like toast, broth, apples, bananas, and rice. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol until recovery is complete. Get plenty of rest.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.