Keeping Kids Hydrated
Getting enough fluids is important to staying healthy. Proper hydration has been associated with energy levels, concentration, physical endurance and other things that help us get the most out of life. But when we don’t get enough to drink, we risk becoming dehydrated, a condition that can range from mild symptoms to severe heat-related illnesses, such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Relative to adults, kids are often at greater risk of becoming dehydrated, in part because they’re less effective at perspiring and also because their bodies can produce more heat during exercise. And if you’ve ever watched kids play, you know that they get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that they often forget to break for a drink. That’s why it’s so important for adults to help them stay hydrated.
Help Active Kids Keep Cool with these Hydration Tips
- Know the potential hazards – heat, humidity, direct sunlight – and plan accordingly.
- Get kids in the habit of drinking water and limit caffeinated and sugary beverages (e.g., sodas, iced tea, etc.). Sports drinks are fine during intense physical activity, but water can be just as good and lower in calories.
- If you have a younger child that prefers fruit juice, try gradually diluting juice with up to 50 percent water. For example, if she’s drinking 3 or 4 ounces of juice a day, gradually dilute that same amount of juice to increase her total fluid consumption to 6 or 8 ounces a day. Encourage your child to drink water with meals and snacks.
- When transitioning to warmer weather, help your child acclimatize to the heat by starting slow and steadily increasing activity over a period of ten to 14 days.
- If your child attends a summer sports camp, inquire about the program’s hydration policy. Send your child off to camp each day with plenty of fluids in break-resistant plastic bottles. Ask your child if he’s getting enough to drink during the day.
- Teach your child to drink before she feels thirsty. Coaches and parents should remind kids to drink prior to and during prolonged physical activity. As a guideline, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children weighing approximately 88 pounds should drink 5 ounces of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes and adolescents weighing approximately 132 pounds should drink about 9 ounces every 20 minutes. An ounce is about two kid-size gulps.
- Pack a frozen water bottle in your child’s lunch along with water-rich fruits, such as watermelon and grapes, in a sealable plastic bag or container.
- Teach kids to think of a shatter-resistant plastic water bottle as part of their essential sports safety gear.
- Be a good role model. If your child sees you drinking water throughout the day, he’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
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