274 chapter 12: Caring for your baby
Protecting children’s health
In children, sicknesses often become serious very quickly. An illness that takes days
or weeks to severely harm or kill an adult can kill a small child in hours. So it is
important to notice early signs of sickness and attend to them right away.
Diarrhea (loose or watery stools) is more common and more dangerous in
babies and small children than it is in adults. If your baby or small child gets
diarrhea, act quickly and:
• keep giving breast milk—often.
• keep giving food.
• give lots of liquids to drink.
Rehydration drink helps prevent or treat dehydration, especially if the baby or
child has severe watery diarrhea:
There are 2 ways to make rehydration drink:
1. With sugar and salt (raw sugar or molasses can be used instead of sugar)
In 1 liter of clean water, put half of a level teaspoon of
salt. Make sure it tastes less salty than tears. Then add 8
level teaspoons of sugar. Mix well and start giving the
drink to the child.
2. With powdered cereal and salt (powdered rice is best, or use finely
ground maize, wheat flour, sorghum, or cooked and mashed potatoes)
In 1 liter of clean water, put half a teaspoon of salt. Make sure it tastes
less salty than tears. Then add 8 heaping teaspoons (or 2 handfuls)
of powdered cereal. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes to form a liquid gruel or
watery porridge. Cool the drink quickly and start giving it to the child.
Taste the drink each time you give it to make sure it is not spoiled.
Cereal drinks can spoil in a few hours in hot weather.
Add to either drink one half cup of fruit juice, coconut water, or mashed
ripe bananas, if available. This provides potassium which may help the
child accept more food and drink.
IMPORTANT Adapt the drink to your area and adjust the quantities
to your local forms of measurement. If you give cereal gruels to young
children, add enough clean water to make it liquid, and use that. Look for
an easy and simple way.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007