Can Babies Drink Gatorade or Powerade? When Is It Safe?

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Gatorade and Powerade are popular sports drinks with delicious flavors we all love, such as Arctic Cherry and Fruit Punch. However, are these sports beverages safe for your baby?

If your baby is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, it is safe to give them Gatorade or Powerade if they are at least ten months old. If your baby is younger, Pedialyte or a generic equivalent is best. 

Let’s dive deeper into the ingredients in Gatorade and Powerade, whether dilution is recommended or required, alternatives, and other essential topics. Read on to learn more!

Can I Give My Baby Gatorade or Powerade?

If your baby is sick and experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, you can safely give your baby Gatorade and Powerade when they are at the appropriate age (source: Children’s Wisconsin). 

While Gatorade and Powerade are sports drinks created for fluid and electrolyte replenishment lost through sweating, they also have become widely used for dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, stomach flu, and more. Sports drinks provide the electrolytes and fluids to help rebalance the hydration status of your baby’s body when they get sick.

These beverages contain sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and sugars. Along with these ingredients, Gatorade and Powerade have coloring and flavoring.

red gatorade on display with bottled water

As a general note, it is best to avoid giving your baby red-colored Gatorade or Powerade because it can make it more difficult to tell if there is blood in the stool or vomit or if the red color is from the beverage (source: Children’s Wisconsin). 

There are other variations in these products, primarily the Gatorade Zero and Powerade Zero lines. These beverages are zero-calorie and sugar-free but still contain the same amount of electrolytes and fluids with as little as less than one gram of carbohydrates. 

Gatorade and Powerade Zero replace regular sugar with an artificial sweetener called sucralose, which is more commonly known as Splenda. 

While it is difficult to find a reputable recommendation for what age is appropriate to give your baby artificial sweeteners in the United States, a Canadian guideline advises avoiding giving sugar substitutes to babies under 12 months old (source: Alberta Health Services). 

Therefore, avoid giving your baby Powerade Zero or Gatorade Zero until they are at least one year old. 

Now let’s look at a table that breaks down if Gatorade or Powerade is appropriate for your baby at different ages in months (source: Children’s Wisconsin). 

Months of Age Is Gatorade Appropriate? 
6No, give Pedialyte instead.
7No, give Pedialyte instead.
8No, give Pedialyte instead.
9No, give Pedialyte instead.
10Yes, Gatorade/Powerade is appropriate. 
*However, avoid Gatorade or Powerade Zero
11Yes, Gatorade/Powerade is appropriate.
12Yes, Gatorade/Powerade is appropriate.

Finally, it is crucial to avoid giving your baby any sports drink variation that contains caffeine, such as Gatorade Energy.

Can Babies Have Diluted or Watered Down Gatorade? 

While diluted or watered-down Gatorade is not unsafe for your baby, it is not necessary when providing your baby with the beverage. 

Many wonder if they should dilute or water down the Gatorade they give to their baby, similar to the recommendation for fruit juice. However, there is no indication to do so with rehydration products. 

Children’s Wisconsin recommends giving your baby from six months old to four years old five milliliters of the rehydration agent (whether Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte, or equivalent) every five minutes for one hour.

Afterward, if your baby does not throw up, increase to ten milliliters every five minutes for an hour. Then, if they also tolerate that amount, you can gradually increase it for the next four or six hours. 

bottles of gatorade in supermarket

Is Gatorade Good for Babies When They’re Sick?

When your baby is sick, Gatorade is an excellent option to help replenish the electrolytes and fluid losses from vomiting and diarrhea.

However, as mentioned above, if the baby is under ten months old, they should receive Pedialyte instead. 

Gatorade vs. Pedialyte for Babies

Babies under ten months old should receive Pedialyte, while it is safe to give Gatorade to a baby who is ten months and older (source: Children’s Wisconsin). On the other hand, Pedialyte is an Oral Rehydration Solution also known as ORS. 

The main difference is that Gatorade is intended as a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat during vigorous physical activity. However, a 2006 study found that Gatorade and Pedialyte were equally effective in rehydrating adults with viral gastroenteritis (source: Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition). 

Though Pedialyte has a combination of calories, carbs, and electrolytes intended for diarrhea and vomiting-related dehydration, if your baby is ten months old and above, Pedialyte can still be a good option for them as well. 

I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down whether or not to give your baby a sports drink, such as Gatorade or Powerade.