Answer: I understand your worry that your child’s vomiting is going to lead to dehydration—and your concern that your conventional choices are drinks like Gatorade, which are high in sugar. The good news is you do have other options. In my book, Treatment Alternatives for Children, I offer this alternative: coconut water. Now readily available in stores, coconut water is rich in electrolytes like sodium, which is crucial for rehydration. If your child is over a year old and suffering from a mild viral infection, start rehydration slowly by having him drink ½ an ounce to 1 ounce of coconut water every 15 minutes, as tolerated. If he hasn’t vomited after an hour or two, you can increase it to 2 ounces every 1 to 2 hours. For babies under a year old, small amounts of breast milk or, if unavailable, Pedialyte, can be used. If using Pedialyte, stick to the same dosage recommended above. But note that for little ones, even just 2 ounces every 4 hours (instead of every 1 or 2) may be sufficient—just be sure to check with your pediatrician.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.