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How to Prevent Infant Dehydration. Avoid Necessity of IVs

Dehydration Can Be Dangerous

Has your baby been vomiting, has diarrhea and can’t keep down fluids? Infant dehydration can be dangerous. Learn a safe, natural and effective way of treating digestive disorders and replenishing body fluids from the world’s most experienced Pediatrician, Dr. Leila Denmark.

Hi, I’m Madia. I have eleven children and one of the greatest privileges of my life was to know Dr. Leila Denmark. She practiced pediatrics for over 75 years and was my mentor for 32 years.

I can hardly express how much she helped me, both with the children’s medical issues and family life challenges. I would love to share what she taught me with you.


How to Prevent Infant Dehydration.

Dehydration is of concern when a child cannot retain fluids over an extended period of time because of severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. It can be life threatening, especially for an infant. Symptoms are sunken eyes, rapid heart beat, lack of urination and general weakness.

If your sick child is thirsty, give him water even if he vomits it up. His body will absorb some of it. Make sure the water is warm: warm water is gentler on the intestinal tract. Pedialyte can also be given to restore the electrolyte balance and is helpful for any age.

If you are concerned that your infant is becoming dehydrated, Dr. Denmark’s prescribed enemas are wonderful tools to replenish fluids in the body. The fluids are quickly absorbed through the colon. The enemas also help cleanse the body from food poisoning or bacteria, restore the balance of electrolytes and soothe the stomach. Sometimes they will bring down a high fever.

Prep for Enema

You need to buy milk of magnesia and an enema bag kit at a pharmacy. You can find milk of magnesia anywhere, but not all pharmacies carry the enema bag kits. Sometimes the kits are labeled as douche-enema bag kits. The last one I bought at a pharmacy was a Rite Aid brand. If you buy a douche-enema bag kit, make sure you use the enema pipe and not the douche pipe.

If you cannot readily obtain an enema bag kit and are in a hurry, purchase a pre-mixed (saline laxative) Fleet enema at your local pharmacy. Even the adult- sized enema tip is small enough for a baby. Dispose of the pre-mixed solution, rinse the bottle, and use it in place of an enema bag.

Since the Fleet bottles are usually too small to contain all the necessary Denmark enema solution, you will probably have to refill it and administer the enema more than once. (Or use multiple bottles) After a bottle begins to collapse, it can help to withdraw the tip and unscrew the top so that the bottle fills with air and resumes its shape. Screw the top back, reinsert the tip, and squeeze out remaining liquid. Avoid squeezing air into the rectum.

Note: There are plenty of options for enema bag kits online. if you decide to order one, look for a "fountain style" enema kit. Fountain style enema bags open at the top so are easier to clean. Also, I prefer the pipes that slide onto the tube rather than screw on. Those that screw on tend to leak after multiple uses. Bear in mind that Dr. Denmark's largest size enema is one quart, so you don't need the largest size bags.

Dr. Denmark’s Standard Enema Method

1. Give child milk of magnesia orally (dosage indicate below). Make sure you shake the bottle before you measure out the milk of magnesia.

2. Wait two hours.

3. If your child is still sick, administer Standard Enema.

Milk of Magnesia Dosage

0–6 months: 1/2 teaspoon

6 months–6 years: One teaspoon

6 years–adult: Two teaspoons

If the child vomits the milk of magnesia within ten minutes, repeat the dose once and then don’t give him anything else until it’s time for the enema.

The Standard Enema consists of boiled water cooled to body temperature and mixed with baking soda.

Measurements for Enema Solution

0–1 year: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 8 oz. water

1 year–6 years: One teaspoon baking soda and 1 pint water

6 years–adult: Two teaspoons baking soda and 1 quart of water


1. Hang solution-filled enema bag.

2. Expel air from tube by letting a little water flow from nozzle (or pipe). Pinch off tube quickly to prevent wasting the rest of the solution.

3. Put Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on appropriate size pipe.

4. Sit down, spread a towel over your lap, and lay your child (tummy down) over the towel. Hang the enema-filled bag higher than your head. Carefully insert pipe 1 to 1-1/2 inches into rectum, with tip pointing toward his navel. It is often helpful to twist the pipe a little as it is inserted in order to get past the sphincter muscles.

5. Hold buttocks around the pipe, release the solution, and let it go in slowly. Occasionally a hard stool will block fluid. Administer the enema gently without forcing. Sometimes, sliding the pipe slightly in and out of the rectum a few times will better allow water to flow.

6. After the solution has all gone in, it’s best not to let it be expelled for ten minutes. Remove the pipe and hold the baby’s buttocks together to prevent early expulsion.

7. After ten minutes I often double diapered my infants and put them in their crib to contain messes (a cloth diaper and diaper cover over a disposable).

Note: With infants and younger children I hung the enema bag on a shower curtain rod and sat on a closed toilet seat next to the shower to administer the enema.

Children old enough to self-administer the enema can stand in the shower and hang the enema bag from the shower head. Remind an older child to angle the pipe towards his navel, release the solution, and wait until it has all gone in. Also remind him to hold in the solution for ten minutes (if possible) before using the toilet. Nauseous children can be very dizzy, so carefully monitor the situation. I usually stand outside the bathroom door until they are finished.

The sooner the enema is administered, the more effective it is in cleansing the digestive tract of offending food or bacteria because there has been less time for absorption of bacteria. It's most effective to start with the milk of magnesia right after your child first vomits, and two hours later administer the enema (if the child is still sick and needs it).

With excessive vomiting and diarrhea, the body may absorb most or all of the enema instead of discharging it. This is good because absorption of the enema fluid prevents dehydration.

When a child is given an enema, he may expel the solution up to 12 hours later in the form of watery stools. If he is still having frequent, watery stools after 12 hours, they should be attributed to diarrhea, not the enema.

Enemas should be followed with a gentle diet.

Retention Enema (Tea Enema)

If your child continues to vomit and cannot retain fluids after you have given a Standard Enema, a Retention Enema may be needed to prevent dehydration and restore the balance of electrolytes.

Measurements for Enema Solution

1. Put 1 individual-sized tea bag (plain black tea) in 10 oz. water. Boil 3 minutes. Stir the tea bag around in the water and remove.

2. Mix the following:

· 8 oz. tea solution

· 24 oz. boiled water

· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· 2 tablespoons dextrose or white Karo syrup (light corn syrup)


Use the same basic procedure as for the Standard Enema only with small, multiple doses. Warm the above mixture to body temperature and give 8 oz. as an enema every two hours, for four doses.

For example:

· 8 oz. at 10:00 a.m.

· 8 oz. at 12:00 noon

· 8 oz. at 2:00 p.m.

· 8 oz. at 4:00 p.m

All ages have the same dosage—even infants. It’s best if the enema solutions are retained for ten minutes before expulsion.


From Madia:

"There is no question in my mind that enemas have saved us dozens of trips to the emergency room. Several of my children seem to have particularly sensitive stomachs. When they start vomiting, nothing stays down. It can be pretty dangerous and scary, especially with an infant. With severe vomiting, I resort to the retention enema and it works wonders. Usually by the second dose, vomiting has completely stopped."

From Dr. Denmark:

"Some doctors would lose their false teeth if they heard my advice about enemas—but enemas certainly do work! One doctor told me, 'Enemas went out with the Greeks!' Not so. My patients use them with great success. And I’ve never had a child develop Reye’s syndrome who was treated with enemas."

For more common sense tips on treating common childhood illnesses, read Dr. Denmark Said It!

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