Smoothie Diet

The 8 Best Electrolytes for Kids of 2024

By Published On: June 12, 202420.5 min readViews: 340 Comments on The 8 Best Electrolytes for Kids of 2024

Increasing fluids, including water, juice, and broths or soups, can help kids stay hydrated—especially while sick—but sometimes an electrolyte supplement is helpful. In fact, Caitlin Waddle, MS, RDN, LD, owner of Sprout Pediatric Nutrition, recommends electrolyte supplements for sick children who are losing fluids from vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating from a fever.

Electrolytes are minerals that are needed for nerve and muscle function, acid-base balance, and hydration. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate. Electrolyte supplements make it easy to get electrolytes in, even if your child isn’t able to eat or drink much. Electrolyte supplements should have at least sodium, potassium, and chloride, and many have some sugar for an easy-to-digest energy source. Sodium and sugar, in particular, help the body to hold onto water and rehydrate faster. 

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We selected electrolyte drinks that offer kid-friendly flavors and make preparation as simple as possible. We also prioritized products that contain quality ingredients that offer kid-safe amounts of nutrients. Some of our choices were taste-tested by our editors in our testing lab, and some were chosen after speaking to our experts. We’ve got you covered for kids facing different challenges, like nausea or even reluctance to drink an electrolyte drink. All of our product choices and information are reviewed by a pediatric specialist from our review board to ensure the most accurate and safe options and information.

A Note About Supplements

Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you and your family. They also may interact with other supplements or medications your child is taking. Please always speak with a healthcare provider first to discuss any supplements you plan on giving a child.

Our Favorites

Product Reviews

Best Overall:  Kinderlyte

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Kinderlyte is a doctor-formulated, ready-to-drink beverage that provides an effective electrolyte option without any artificial colors or flavors and similar ingredients to the more familiar Pedialyte. Kinderlyte is higher in sodium per liter than many of the other options, which could be incredibly beneficial for children experiencing vomiting or diarrhea

Like Pedialyte, Kinderlyte contains zinc in addition to electrolytes sodium, potassium, and chloride. This can be helpful for sick kids, as zinc plays a role in immune function. One nice feature that allows Kinderlyte to stand out is that it entirely avoids the use of artificial food coloring by using fruit/vegetable juice to provide color. It also comes in seven flavors, making it likely one might sound good to your child. It provides slightly more calories per serving than many other electrolyte replacements, making it helpful if your child isn’t eating much. All in all, this is a great product that hits all the essential marks.

But Take Note

Kinderlyte uses a small amount of stevia in addition to sugar. There is little research on the consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia, in children.

Product Details:

  • Form: Ready to drink liquid
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, chloride 
  • Serving size: 12 ounces
  • Sodium per serving: 460 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 8 grams
  • Recommended use: 1-2 liters per day while symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Fruit punch, orange, grape, cherry punch, lemonade, strawberry, strawberry punch
  • Third-party tested: Yes, Glyphosate Residue Free Certified and FDA-regulated medical food/beverage. 

Best Budget: Pedialyte Electrolyte Solution Unflavored

Target


Why We Recommend It

Pedialyte has been around for decades and is easy to find in most stores. It offers the basic electrolytes—sodium, chloride, potassium—in amounts that allow for multiple doses a day if needed. It also contains zinc, which isn’t an electrolyte but can be especially important if a child is sick. Similar to our top pick, this is a ready-to-drink form that doesn’t require any mixing

Pedialyte Electrolyte Solution Unflavored doesn’t contain any high-intensity/non-nutritive sweeteners, added flavors, or colors. This may be especially helpful for kids who are sensitive to the typical added flavors or colors or the aftertaste of sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit. Because it’s unflavored, it can be tailored to meet a child’s flavor preferences by adding a splash of their favorite juice. Pedialyte also offers USDA Organic options that are free of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, but they are sweetened with stevia. 

But Take Note

While this drink’s “blank slate” unflavored option means no added colors, flavors, or sweeteners with aftertaste, it also means not all kids may like it. Even though it’s unflavored, it is still sweetened. So, adding a squeeze of lemon or even serving it with an ice pop to stir might help kids who aren’t immediate fans. Also note it’s recommended to throw out any unused products 48 hours after opening.

Product Details:

  • Form: Ready to drink liquid 
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, chloride
  • Serving size: 12 ounces
  • Sodium per serving: 370 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 9 grams
  • Recommended use: 1-2 liters per day while symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Unflavored
  • Third-party tested: Yes, FDA-regulated medical food/beverage

Best Ingredients: Hydrant Hydrate Hydration Drink Mix 

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Hydrant Hydrate fruit-flavored powdered electrolyte mixes are flavored with powdered fruit juices and are third-party tested for ingredient accuracy and lack of contaminants. The color in each mix comes from powdered fruits and veggies. While they do contain a small amount of monk fruit, the base of the product is cane sugar. We think these have a mild flavor and dissolve well, making them a great product for kids who might be put off by undissolved solids or overpowering flavors.

While this product isn’t specifically formulated for kids, it contains appropriate amounts of electrolytes to be used for kids. In addition to the typical sodium, potassium, and chloride, this product also contains magnesium and zinc. Magnesium can be lost during vomiting and diarrhea. Zinc is especially important if a child has diarrhea.

But Take Note

These powders only come in three flavors, unlike some of the other options, which offer more variety. They also use monk fruit extract, which can have a distinct taste that some kids might not like. 

Product Details:

  • Form: Powder
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride 
  • Serving size: 1 pack (7.5 grams) in 8-16 ounces of water
  • Sodium per serving: 260 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 4 grams
  • Recommended use: 1-2 liters (2-4 packets) a day while symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Blood orange, fruit punch, lemon-lime
  • Third-party tested: No

Best for Toddlers: Harmless Harvest Organic Coconut Water

Target


Why We Recommend It

Harmless Harvest Organic Coconut Water has a mild flavor that might be more enticing to younger kids who may not like the stronger flavors of the flavored electrolyte options. Coconut water has a higher concentration of naturally occurring sugar from the coconuts, which helps the body hold to water and provides a quick-releasing energy source. It’s a good source of potassium and also contains small amounts of sodium and phosphorus. 

This coconut water contains one ingredient: coconut water. So, it doesn’t have any added flavors, colors, or sweeteners. This ready-to-drink beverage freezes well and can be frozen as-is in ice pop molds. The subtle flavor makes it easy to mix with other juices, so if a child has a favorite juice, adding a splash may make them more excited about coconut water. Its sweeter flavor profile also makes it a great option for using as the liquid in smoothies or oatmeal as toddlers start to feel like eating more solids. 

But Take Note

Because coconut water comes from a coconut, it’s not appropriate for kids with coconut allergies. Coconut water is lower in sodium than other electrolyte replacements and might benefit from a pinch of salt if kids aren’t getting in any other salt-containing foods.

Product Details:

  • Form: Ready to drink liquid
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium
  • Serving size: 8 ounces
  • Sodium per serving: 50 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 13 grams
  • Recommended use: 1-2 liters per day as symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Original
  • Third-party tested: Coconut water is considered a bottled beverage (not a supplement), so it is regulated by the FDA.

Best for Nausea: Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier for Kids

Target


Why We Recommend It

Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier for Kids has B vitamins and Vitamin C, in addition to the electrolytes sodium and potassium. These added nutrients can be helpful for kids experiencing nausea who are taking in limited amounts of nutrients from food. 

This product is free of artificial flavors and colors and is instead colored with spirulina extract, a type of blue-green algae. It comes in five flavors, which might be helpful for a nauseated little one to find a flavor that sounds palatable to them. 

But Take Note

This product doesn’t contain zinc, so it may not be the best choice if your child has diarrhea. In addition to sugar, it also contains the sweetener stevia.

Product Details:

  • Form: Powder
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, chloride
  • Serving size: 1 stick (8 grams) in 8 ounces of water
  • Sodium per serving: 250 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 6 grams
  • Recommended use: 1 packet mixed into 8 ounces of water
  • Flavors: Tropical punch, cotton candy, crisp apple, banana, concord grape
  • Third-party tested: Unclear, regular Liquid IV is third-party tested

Best for Picky Eaters: Mary Ruth’s Gummy Bears

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Mary Ruth’s Gummy Bears offers a unique option for supplementing electrolytes for a sick child. Because they are in the form of a popular candy, they may seem more familiar and appealing to kids who are skeptical of the flavor of electrolyte drinks. 

These gummy bears are sweetened with sugar, with 18 grams per serving, providing extra calories and an easily absorbable energy source for kids who aren’t eating much. Since this is a higher amount of sugar, we recommend spreading out the 14-piece serving throughout the day to avoid a blood sugar spike. In addition to sugar, it contains a moderate amount of sodium and very small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. 

This product contains no artificial flavorings or colorings and is instead colored with black carrot juice. We also like that Mary Ruth’s practices third-party testing for content claims and potential contaminants, including microbial and heavy metals. 

But Take Note

This product contains a relatively lower amount of sodium and is not a significant source of other electrolytes. Therefore, this would not be a good choice for kids experiencing a lot of fluid loss, as they would need higher amounts of electrolytes to adequately replenish and accelerate hydration. 

It contains coconut, which rules it out for kids with coconut allergies. Gummies can be a choking hazard for younger children

Product Details:

  • Form: Gummy 
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium
  • Serving size: 14 gummy bears
  • Sodium per serving: 125 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 18 grams
  • Recommended use: 2-4 servings, along with 1-2 liters of fluids as symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Strawberry, orange, and papaya
  • Third-party tested: Yes

Best Tasting: Earth’s Best Electrolyte Solution

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Earth’s Best Electrolyte Solution has a base of fruit juice – either apple or grape. Because the majority of the drink is fruit juice, the flavor of these products may be more familiar and appealing to kids who like apple or grape juices. The fruit juice base also provides slightly more calories per ounce, which is helpful for kids who aren’t able to get much food down. If your child likes fruit ice pops, freezing this electrolyte solution in ice pop molds may be a solution worth trying if your little one doesn’t want flavored liquid.

In addition to providing potassium, sodium, and chloride, it also contains 25% Daily Value of zinc, which is especially helpful if your child has diarrhea and for boosting the immune system. This drink doesn’t use any added colors or artificial flavors. 

But Take Note

While this drink is based on juice, which has natural sweetness, it does have a small amount of stevia added, which some kids might not like. 

Product Details:

  • Form: Ready to drink liquid 
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, zinc, chloride
  • Serving size: 12 ounces
  • Sodium per serving: 370 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 9 grams
  • Recommended use: 1-2 liters per day while symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Apple-citrus, Grape-berry
  • Third-party tested: Yes, this is an FDA-regulated medical food/beverage.

Best Lower Sugar: Cure Kids Hydrating Electrolyte Mix

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

While sugar can help children rehydrate faster and provide a quick source of energy, not all parents want to give their children a lot of sugar, particularly if they are getting other sugar (like juice). A lower-sugar electrolyte drink can also be helpful if you want to give them more than one serving of an electrolyte drink per day. Cure Kids Hydrating Electrolyte Mix is made with coconut water powder and pink Himalayan salt, providing both sodium and potassium in amounts that allow for more than one serving per day. It comes in single-serve packets, making it a great option for on-the-go and travel. 

The colors come from fruit and vegetable powders, with no artificial colors or flavors added. It contains just four grams of naturally occurring sugar from the coconut water and is instead sweetened with stevia and monk fruit.

But Take Note

This product contains a minimal amount of sugar and two types of non-nutritive sweeteners: stevia and monk fruit. Kids who don’t like the flavor or aftertaste of these sweeteners may not drink this product. 

Product Details:

  • Form: Powder
  • Electrolytes included: Sodium, potassium, chloride
  • Serving size: 1 packet in 8-12 ounces of cold water
  • Sodium per serving: 250 milligrams 
  • Sugar per serving: 4 grams
  • Recommended use: 2-4 servings, along with 1-2 liters of fluids as symptoms persist
  • Flavors: Pink lemonade, mixed berry, fruit punch
  • Third-party tested: This is regulated by the FDA

Should My Child Take Electrolytes? 

If your child is feeling a little under the weather but is otherwise able to eat and drink normally, they likely don’t need to take electrolytes. Much of deciding if your child needs electrolyte supplementation is looking at fluids coming in (i.e. food and water) versus fluids going out (i.e. urine, bowel movements, sweating). If a child is putting out more fluid than they’re taking in, dehydration can result. 

Electrolyte drinks may help with the following:

  • Loss of appetite with reduced food intake
  • Reduced liquid intake
  • Decrease in fluid consumption 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever accompanied by sweating 

Avoiding Severe Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalances

Monitoring dehydration risk comes down to three key points: intake/output, physical signs, and urine.

  • Intake/output: Are they putting out a lot of volume with vomiting and frequent diarrhea without replacing lost fluids? If so, they may be dehydrated or on their way to dehydration.
  • Physical signs: Take a look at your child and their body and mannerisms. Do they seem particularly lethargic? Do they have dry lips? Are they crying with no tears? These are all signs of dehydration.
  • Urine: Is a child producing smaller volumes of concentrated, dark yellow, or even brown urine? For younger kids, this may look like fewer wet diapers.

If your child is ill and goes longer than eight hours without drinking or urinating, contact a pediatric healthcare provider. In these cases, electrolyte drinks may not be sufficient to rehydrate, and they may need medical attention to replace lost fluids with IV hydration. 

Otherwise, prioritize providing fluids consistently. Choose fluids that sound the most appealing to them and that they will consistently sip. If they won’t drink an electrolyte beverage, this is the time for a favorite juice or decaffeinated soft drink. Ice pops can also help replace lost fluids. 

Sodium is important to support more rapid rehydration, so try soups and broths or salty foods like crackers and pretzels. “If you are having trouble getting your child to accept fluids, using a 5 mL medicine syringe by mouth can be a helpful way to provide the oral rehydration solution, and it helps you keep track of how much fluid they are taking in,” Suggests Waddle. 

Our Supplement Review and Testing Process

When finding the best electrolyte options for kids, our team of dietitians analyzed current research and reviewed several products on the market. We also consulted additional pediatric nutrition experts. 

We looked closely at each product’s ingredients in terms of amounts and quality. Electrolyte supplements that are third-party tested for purity and label accuracy were prioritized. Bottled oral rehydration solutions are considered medical foods, which are FDA-regulated and, therefore, typically are not third-party lab tested. These products will state, “Use under medical supervision.” 

We taste-tested over 20 top electrolyte drinks in our testing lab. We incorporated our testing insights when applicable, but most electrolytes we test are geared toward adults.

Because there are benefits and potential drawbacks to both forms of children’s electrolyte replacement–powder or ready-to-drink liquid–we considered both forms for inclusion. While our list provides a great resource, it’s important to speak with your child’s healthcare provider before giving them any supplements.

Our Experts

The pediatric nutrition expert we spoke with for this article offered insight into the specifics of electrolyte balance as well as tools and tips for encouraging kids to use electrolyte beverages when they’re not feeling well. Additionally, a dietitian gave recommendations for the electrolyte drinks we tested.

  • Caitlin Waddle, MS, RDN, LD, a pediatric nutrition specialist and owner of Sprout Pediatric Nutrition.
  • Alena Kharlamenko, MS, RD, CDN a dietitian who specializes in health and nutrition research and supplement testing.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for Electrolytes for Kids

Dosage 

Figuring out dosage depends on your child’s age, their fluid output, and how much they are eating and drinking. If a child is using the electrolyte supplement as their main source of fluid and electrolytes, then you may need a few or more servings each day. If your child is able to eat or drink other foods and beverages, then you may only need a single serving or two. 

In general, look for products that have no more than 25% of a child’s daily needs of any nutrient. Typically, this looks like around 200-300mg sodium, 200-300mg potassium, 300-400mg chloride, 15-25mg magnesium, and 50-100mg calcium. Not all products will contain all of these electrolytes, but you ideally want a product that includes at least sodium, potassium, and sugar. If your child isn’t eating any solids, look for a product that also includes chloride. 

The World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution recommends slightly more sodium and chloride. Most electrolyte drink products do not use more than 200-300mg of sodium per serving for flavor reasons (it would be too salty for a child to drink) and as not to exceed the upper limit recommended for sodium, which ranges from 800-1,500 milligrams per day, depending on the child’s age (see DRI’s outlined below). 

Electrolyte Balance and Sugar Content

Electrolyte needs vary by age. Looking at the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), which illustrate how much of each nutrient healthy children need, is a great place to start when considering the dosage of electrolyte products. It’s also important to check the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of nutrients, the largest amount that likely poses no health risk. You want to aim to stay within the limits of the DRI and never exceed the UL. 

Some brands use the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) recommendations and list this on their labels. If your child is able to eat or drink anything aside from an electrolyte drink and water, it’s important to consider this in the electrolyte totals– especially if it’s a fortified food. Waddle also points out that once a child is feeling better and the risk for dehydration is gone, it’s time for them to get back to regular fluids that don’t contain the extra sodium and added sugars.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids over the age of two aim for less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. However, when kids are sick it is not the time to think about limiting sugar, but rather to encourage kids to eat/drink what sounds good to them. For kids who are nauseated, have sore throats, or have another symptom that restricts what feels or sounds good to eat or drink, higher sugar drinks may be the most efficient and practical way for them to get energy (ie calories) in. Aside from providing energy, sugar is also necessary for our bodies to absorb sodium and fluids.

Recommended Daily Amounts of Electrolytes:

  • Calcium: 700mg (1-3 years old); 1,000mg (4-8); 1,300mg (9-18) 
  • Sodium: 800mg (1-3); 1,000mg (4-8); 1,200mg (9-13); 1,500mg (14-18)
  • Chloride: 1500mg (1-3); 2,300mg (4-8); 1,900mg (9-18)
  • Potassium: 2,000mg (1-3); 2,300mg (4-8); 2,300mg/2,500mg (9-13 girls/boys); 2,300mg/3,000mg (14-18 girls/boys)
  • Magnesium: 80mg (1-3); 130mg (4-8); 340mg (9-13); 360mg/410mg (14-18 girls/boys)

UL (Suggested not to go over) amounts:

  • Calcium: 2,500mg (1-8), 3,000mg (9-18)
  • Sodium: Not enough data, use DRI
  • Chloride: 2300mg (1-3); 2900mg (4-8); 3400mg (9-13); 3600mg (14-18)
  • Potassium: Not enough data, use DRI
  • Magnesium: 65mg (1-3); 110mg (4-8); 350mg (9-18)

Ingredients and Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications your child is taking.

Some children’s electrolyte products may contain zinc, which is lost through bouts of diarrhea and may help kids recover from diarrhea faster. However, too much zinc can cause nausea and vomiting, so it’s important to stay well within the recommended intake with any product that contains zinc (3mg/day ages 1-3, 5mg/day ages 4-8, 8mg/day ages 9-13, 11mg/day age 14-18).

Be wary of products that tout additional benefits, like immune support, energy, etc., as these often have added ingredients that you may not want or need–especially if a child is using multiple servings a day. Additionally, if you’re using an adult version of an electrolyte supplement, make sure it doesn’t contain caffeine and other stimulants. Some adult versions contain ingredients like caffeine because they’re advertised as being energy drinks as well. Also, electrolyte drinks for adults may contain electrolyte dosages that are not appropriate for kids.

While having sugar in an electrolyte can help with rehydration, many products also include small amounts of high-intensity sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit to balance out the saltiness. There isn’t much research on the use of these sweeteners for kids, but they are generally recognized as safe.  It is worth noting that these sweeteners do have a flavor and aftertaste that can be polarizing. 

Form and Flavors

When it comes to choosing between a powdered product that you mix with water or a ready-to-drink product, it mostly comes down to flavor preference and ease. Either way, across the board, the recommendation is to serve these drinks cold for the best flavor. While ready-to-drink products take the guesswork out of measuring water and mixing, powdered products typically offer more flavor options and versatility. The powdered options tend to come in a wider assortment of flavors, can be easily stashed in a travel bag, and often have a range of how much water you can mix with them to offer a more diluted or concentrated flavor. 

With the powdered mixes, you do need to be careful to follow mixing directions exactly. With premixed liquids, once you open the container, it needs to be used within a couple of days. Powdered mixes mostly come in individual packets, meaning you just need to open what you need at the time.

You may notice that some ingredient lists have salt, which means the product contains sodium chloride and provides both sodium and chloride. Other products use sodium citrate and may add chloride separately. If your child doesn’t love the saltiness of electrolyte replacements, opting for a product that uses the sodium citrate form (which has a more tart, less salty flavor profile) may be more palatable to them. Similarly, tart flavors– lemon, lime, orange– may mask the saltiness of electrolyte replacements better.

What age should electrolytes be used?

For children under one year of age, speak to a healthcare professional before giving any electrolytes or fluids. For kids older than one who are still receiving some human milk or infant formula, this fluid will need to be considered in the big picture when deciding whether or not to use an electrolyte replacement.

Who We Are

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD, CIEC is a dietitian with a private practice in NYC. She works with individuals and families to help heal and support their relationships with food and eating. She’s also the mom to a six-year-old. She thoroughly vetted each product, interviewed experts, and looked at the latest research on using electrolytes for kids.


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