ORS For Babies – Is it Safe, How Much to Give and Top Benefits

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

ORS For Babies

ORS or oral rehydration salt is a mixture of several nutrients necessary to maintain the electrolyte level of our body. The World Health Organization recommends using ORS irrespective of age to fight dehydration. Babies tend to suffer from stomach illnesses. They are prone to vomiting and diarrhea as their immature digestive system often fails to digest complex food. In such a condition ORS for babies is irreplaceable.

Babies who have vomiting and diarrhea lose a lot of water from their body. Along with this, they also lose many vital minerals and nutrients. If these are not replenished on time, babies may suffer serious consequences. Administering ORS at early stages prevents this risk by replenishing lost fluids and minerals. pregnancy pillow

In This Article

Is ORS Safe For Babies?

Yes, ORS or Oral Rehydration Solution or ORS is absolutely safe and a life-saver for babies who are going through dehydration. ORS contains water as a base and various salts and sugar that will help restore the body’s fluid and mineral balance. ORS can be easily made at home with boiled and cooled water, salt, and sugar. When buying ORS powders and solutions from the pharmacy, it is a good practice to ensure that it is made using a WHO-approved formulation. Always read labels carefully when buying ORS drinks that come in tetra packs before buying them for your baby. 

When Do Babies Need ORT?

Babies need ORT or oral rehydration therapy when there is a sudden loss of water and electrolytes in the body. Due to viral or bacterial infections and gastrointestinal issues babies often suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. The body loses a lot of water during this time which leads to dehydration. ORS is extremely important to rehydrate your baby’s body as dehydration can cause serious problems.

How to Give ORS to Infants?

Giving ORS to Babies

For preparing and feeding ORS for your infant follow these steps

  • Boil 200ml of drinking water and let it cool
  • Add the prescribed amount of ORS powder to the water and mix
  • Pour this mixture into a glass or cup and feed it with a teaspoon or dropper to your infant
  • Give one or two teaspoons of ORS water to your baby every 10 minutes
  • Give at least 1 liter of ORS water to your infant within 24 hours
  • Only use clean drinkable water to prepare ORS. Do not mix it in milk or fruit juice or any other sort of fluids

Top 5 Benefits of ORS For Babies

ORS Benefits

ORS is beneficial for everyone suffering from dehydration. Here are the top 5 benefits of ORS for Babies.

1. Maintains Electrolyte Balance

The solution contains salts and glucose such as potassium chloride, sodium chloride, anhydrous glucose, and trisodium citrate. Glucose is necessary to recover and rejuvenate the cells once it loses water due to dehydration. Salt on the other hand helps to maintain the body’s electrolyte balance.

2. Helps Recover From Dehydration

The proper equation between salts and glucose in ORS thus helps the body to recover from dehydration. According to a research article published by PLOS medicine, almost half a million children die due to diarrheal illness per year and all these deaths are preventable by using ORS.

3. Instant Absorption

In ORS, the proportion of salt and glucose is added in a manner that can maintain the osmolarity level of our body. Osmolarity is nothing but the amount of solvents present in a solution. According to the University of Rochester report, stool’s osmolarity is between 275 to 295 mOsm/kg and diarrhea occurs when the level goes down to 250 mOsm/kg. ORS contains simple salts that our bodies can readily absorb. Thus it can combat dehydration by instantly mixing in the blood and spreading all over the body.

4. Cheap and Readily Available

ORS is the cheapest method of rehydration. ORS sachets are available in almost every pharmacy near you. So, ORS is affordable and readily available.

5. Easy to Prepare at Home

ORS is very easy to prepare as you will only have to cut the sachet and mix the ORS powder in the prescribed amount of water.

As its name suggests, ORS is an oral treatment for dehydration. So anyone can make the ORS solution for your baby and feed them anytime.

What Quantity of ORS Solution Does a Baby Need?

The quantity of ORS will depend on the age and severity of dehydration your baby has. Under the Rehydration Project, UNICEF marks out the amount of 250ml ORS for babies under two years after every watery stool. You can also provide the same amount of ORS to your baby in case of frequent vomiting due to food poisoning or gastrointestinal issues.

For babies under one year, you can use a spoon or syringe to provide 5 to 10 ml i.e. 1 to 2 teaspoons of ORS every 5 to 10 minutes. And for babies above one year, you will have to increase the amount to 15 to 30 ml or 1 to 2 tablespoons every 20 minutes.

The proper amount of ORS solution will depend on other factors like additional medicines for diarrhea or vomiting and the intake capacity of the baby. As ORS alone cannot stop diarrhea. It can only compensate for the massive water loss in the body due to dehydration by diarrhea or vomiting.

[Read : Food Poisoning in Babies]

What to Do If ORS is Not Available?

Preparing ORS at home

Though ORS is usually available in medical stores, in case of its unavailability or immediate need you can make it at home. Follow these steps to make ORS at home.

  • Wash your hands and the utensils you will use to make the ORS with soap and water
  • Boil 1 liter of drinking water for 15 minutes then let it cool
  • Mix six level teaspoons of sugar and half level teaspoon of salt in the water
  • Feed the mixture by using spoons, feeder, or syringe every 10 minutes after a loose stool
  • Do not overfeed ORS as excessive glucose or salt at a time can worsen the situation of diarrhea and induce vomiting

Are There Any Side Effects of ORS For Babies?

There are no side effects of ORS if you follow the exact doses. But overfeeding ORS can lead to problems like water retention and electrolyte imbalance.

According to NIH research study, almost 51.3% of women in India follow the wrong process of preparing for ORS which can result in worsening conditions. In the case of homemade ORS, reverse effects can occur if you mistakenly put too much sugar or salt. Lots of sugar or salt in the ORS can worsen the condition of diarrhea or vomiting.

Precautions to Take While Feeding ORS to Babies

There are some precautions you need to follow while giving ORS to your baby. These are as follows:

  1. Avoid giving ORS without a doctor’s consultation if your baby has conditions like gastrointestinal obstruction or problems in renal function such as in the kidney or liver.
  2. Do not add more than the amount of ORS the doctor suggests. More ORS does not mean quicker recovery.
  3. For babies below 6 months only feed breastmilk along with the ORS. And for babies above 6 months do not provide milk and solid food for the first 24 hours. Give light liquid food only when your baby is willing to eat.
  4. If diarrhea in your baby is not improving or worsening after 48 hours then do not think or wait. Rush to the hospital.

ORS for babies is a mandatory formula that you must give during any sort of dehydration. Dehydration can occur due to many reasons. ORS can easily replenish lost fluids and salts that happen due to extreme heat and sweat. In case of diarrhea and vomiting, ORS can gradually compensate for the loss of water. You can also take the help of rice water or congee, tender coconut water, gruel, etc. to rehydrate your baby above 6 months.

[Read : Giving Coconut Water To Babies]


1. Can I Give ORS to My Baby Daily?

No, there is absolutely no reason to provide ORS to your baby daily without any dehydration. Your baby will naturally get hydration from daily liquids such as water, milk, fruit juice, etc. Use ORS only when your baby suffers from dehydration.

2. Does ORS Stop Diarrhea in Babies?

No, ORS alone cannot stop diarrhea. ORS is not a medicine to cure diarrhea. Doctors tell you to provide ORS to maintain the water and electrolyte levels of the body during dehydration. You will have to provide additional medicines for diarrhea to your baby if it does not cure in one day.

Read Also: Stomach Pain in Babies: Symptoms, Causes & Home Remedies

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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