Pedialyte has been used by parents as a cure to help treat dehydration in their children after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting while they’re ill. Given that children are often sick during their formative years, and given that 1 in 9 children actually die from dehydration due to diarrhea every year (making it the second leading cause of death among children under 5), it’s understandable that many parents would think to keep a back stock on hand to use in case of emergencies. But how long does Pedialyte actually last? Does it even expire?
The short answer is: yes. Pedialyte does have an expiration date. Abbott, the company that manufactures Pedialyte, has systematic monitoring in place to assure that their products are of the highest quality. To ensure this, their products are stamped with a “use by” date, which can be found on the bottle. Generally speaking, a sealed, unopened bottle of Pedialyte will stay fresh for about two years—while an opened bottle will keep for up to 48 hours in the fridge before needing to be thrown away.
In this article, we’ll talk about Pedialyte in more depth, including what it’s made from exactly, as well as talk more about its shelf life and how long you can expect it to last if you’re planning to buy in bulk.
Launched in 1966, Pedialyte was one of the first ready-to-use oral rehydration solutions on the market and was initially only sold to hospitals. A consumer version was released three years later in 1969 and has been the go-to option for parents ever since.
In the sections that follow, we’ll touch on:
- What Pedialyte actually is
- What its uses are
- How long it lasts, and
- Tips to keep it fresh for longer
What Pedialyte Is
Pedialyte is a brand of oral rehydration solution (or ORS) that is made up of fluids that help replenish minerals that have been lost from the body. It contains sodium chloride (salt), potassium chloride (potassium), and magnesium sulfate (magnesium), which are all minerals that are essential to the body to help it absorb fluids properly. It also has calcium, some sugar, vitamin B6, iron, and zinc.
Pedialyte states that it has 2x the electrolytes and half the sugar of other leading sports drinks, having “the optimal balance of sugar and sodium to help replenish fluids and increase electrolyte levels more effectively.” The added zinc also aids in supporting the immune system!
It comes in a variety of different flavors and forms marketing for adults and children—meaning there’s a Pedialyte out there for almost any rehydration need.
What Pedialyte Is Used For
Pedialyte was primarily designed and marketed for children who had become dehydrated due to diarrhea, but has been used for a variety of rehydration purposes—in both children and adults—from other sicknesses-related reasons like a stomach flu or food poisoning to more casual instances like rehydrating after a workout.
Pedialyte has found another use among adults as well: to help cure hangovers. Since 2012, there has been a 57% increase in sales among adults, sparking a shift in Pedialyte’s marketing campaign to expand to include this previously untapped market of consumers.
Pedialyte is sometimes prescribed as a hydration aid for pregnant women, as it may aid in easing some of the symptoms of morning sickness.
How Long It Lasts
As previously stated, an unopened, sealed bottle of Pedialyte will generally last for about 2 years before reaching the “use by” date that is printed on the bottle. While some bottles may still be usable after this date, some of the ingredients in them likely won’t be as effective.
An opened bottle, on the other hand, has a significantly shorter self-life and must be consumed within 48 hours. This is because, once opened, environmental microorganisms can potentially come into contact with the product from the air or from direct contact and cause bacteria to grow.
The bacteria will grow slowly at refrigerated temperatures, extending your Pedialyte’s shelf life some, but over time the amount of bacteria can become significant enough to cause problems. This can be especially true in children with gastroenteritis (or a stomach flu), as they are at an increased risk of reinfection from these bacteria since their immune system is compromised from attempting to fight off the other illness. This is why it’s especially important to discard any unused solution after 48 hours have passed.
Tips to Keep It Fresh
If you’re hoping to extend the life of your Pedialyte, there are some steps you can take to help it stay fresh for longer, namely:
- Keeping it out of direct sunlight, as heat accelerates the breakdown of some of the ingredients in the product.
- Avoid storing it in areas with high humidity, as humidity causes the ingredients in the product to become sticky and makes it difficult for them to mix and absorb properly in the body.
- Refrigerating the product as soon as possible after opening to prevent bacteria growth.
- Making sure you keep the container tightly closed when not in use, and especially while traveling! Traveling with the bottle unsealed can increase the risk of contamination.
- Considering other forms of Pedialyte—like powdered forms! This is especially helpful if you’re storing for the long haul, as powdered forms have a longer shelf-life than liquid forms.
While Pedialyte can last for quite some time if left unopened—up to 2 years!—it is not a product that will last indefinitely. After the printed “use by” date on the bottle, you run the risk of the ingredients inside the Pedialyte expiring themselves and becoming less and less effective over the passage of time.
This becomes even more true for bottles once they’ve been opened, which must be refrigerated and must be used or discarded within 48 hours to prevent the risk of bacteria growth and causing further health complications for you or your child.
When used and properly, however, Pedialyte can be a huge help in restoring minerals and electrolytes lost from sickness—especially diarrhea and vomiting!
While perhaps not best to buy in large amounts just for economical purposes, savvy parents would be wise to keep at least a bottle or two on hand to help out in emergencies.