How is dehydration in children treated?

Dehydration in children is treated by replacing the fluids in his body. Note that if your child is dehydrated, he should not be fed solid food until his dehydration has been treated. If your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, he will be given the food he usually eats as soon as possible. Babies should continue to breastfeed or drink formula. Treatment may include any of the following:


Oral liquids:

  • If your child is mildly to moderately dehydrated, he may need an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS is a special drink that contains the right amounts of salt, sugar, minerals and nutrients in water. It is the best oral liquid for replacing his body fluids. Ask your child's healthcare provider where you can get ORS.
  • ORS can be given in small amounts (about 1 teaspoon at a time) if your child is vomiting. Ask healthcare providers how much ORS your child needs when he is dehydrated and how often you should give it.
  • Sports drinks are not the same as ORS and should not be given without asking your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give your child soft drinks (soda) or fruit juices. These can make your child's condition worse.


    Nasogastric tube: If your child vomits often and cannot keep the ORS down, healthcare providers may insert a nasogastric (NG) tube. This is a tube that goes from his nose to his stomach. Healthcare providers can use the NG tube to give your child the ORS he needs.


    Intravenous liquids: If your child has serious dehydration, healthcare providers will give him intravenous (IV) liquids. Healthcare providers will first try to give liquids through a tube placed in a small vein, such as in your child's arm. If small veins cannot be used, healthcare providers may try to use a larger vein near your child's collarbone. In some cases, liquids may need to be given through a needle placed into your child's leg bone.

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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.