06-21-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
It’s a scorching hot day, school is out for the summer, and your kids are enthusiastically running, jumping and playing in your backyard. They’re so caught up in having fun that it doesn’t even cross their minds to stop playing for a minute to ask for or grab something to drink.
It’s important that kids drink frequently during the hot weather to keep them from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration is in the top 10 reasons for inpatient admissions at Dayton Children’s.
Young bodies can become dehydrated easily thus it's imperative for parents to learn to recognize the early signs of dehydration and to respond quickly if they develop. Younger infants and children should be watched very carefully because they're more likely to become dehydrated than older kids or teens. Signs of dehydration can include:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Few or no tears when crying
- Eyes that look sunken into the head
- Soft spot (fontanelle) on top of baby's head that looks sunken
- Lack of urine or wet diapers for six to eight hours in an infant (or only a very small amount of dark yellow urine)
- Lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child (or only a very small amount of dark yellow urine)
- Dry, cool skin
- Lethargy or irritability
- Fatigue or dizziness in an older child
“Thirst is not a good early sign of dehydration,” says Jessica Saunders, injury prevention coordinator and mommy safety blogger at Dayton Children’s. “By the time a child feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. Furthermore, thirst can be quenched before the necessary body fluids have been replaced. That's why kids should start drinking before thirst develops and consume additional fluids even after thirst is quenched.”
Water is the best option
When it comes to hydrating kids, you may be trying to decide between letting them drink water or sports drinks. Sports drinks may be beneficial for kids who participate in prolonged vigorous physical activity lasting longer than an hour (such as long-distance running and biking, or high-intensity exercise such as soccer, basketball, or hockey). However, sports drinks are not necessary for the casual athlete and should not be consumed on a regular basis. If your sedentary child is a fan of sports beverages, consider sidelining these drinks in favor of plain water. Water is the best option for keeping your kids hydrated. Not only does water fight dehydration, but it's refreshing and contains no calories.
Since water is so important, you might wonder if your children are drinking enough. There is no magic amount of water that kids need to drink every day. Usually, kids like to drink something with meals and should definitely drink when they are thirsty. But when it's warm out or they're exercising, they'll need more. Those who participate in sports or strenuous activities should drink some extra fluid before the activity begins. They should also drink at regular intervals (every 20 to 30 minutes) during the course of the activity and after it ends.
Five fun ways to make water more appealing to your children
- Use ice cube trays that make fun shapes and use those ice cubes in your child’s water
- Float slices of fruit (such as lemons or limes) in a pitcher of water
- Take your child to pick out a new, special cup
- Keep small bottles of water (the kind with the flip-top) in the fridge so that kids can easily grab one
- Set a good example and drink water yourself!
Water plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy, well-functioning body. Everyone needs to stay hydrated to stay healthy, and you can't go wrong giving your kids plain water. Teach your kids that water is the best drink for them!
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