Water plays an important role in keeping kids regular, because it helps soften stools so that they are easier to pass. More than our bowel is affected when we get dehydrated because water makes up 60% to 80% of our bodies. It is essential to regulating the body's temperature by allowing us to sweat. Water also carries away our waste in urine and helps move nutrients and other substances through our bodies.
During summertime, it is even more important for parents to focus on keeping kids hydrated because playing outside in warm weather puts them at greater risk for dehydration. When your child is not consuming enough fluid, he or she may be tired, irritable and have symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, diarrhea or vomiting. Without enough fluid, your child may become constipated, too.
So, how much fluid do kids need? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children weighing approximately 88 pounds should drink 5 ounces of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes while they are active. Sports drinks help maintain electrolytes in the body. It is good to strike a balance between fluids with electrolytes, like sports drinks, and tap water, which has no calories and often provides an added benefit of fluoride, which helps teeth grow strong.
Remember, don't overdo it. Drinking too much water without electrolytes and calories could result in water intoxication.
Soda with caffeine is not a good choice for keeping kids hydrated because caffeine causes more frequent urination and loss of body fluids.
Below are several tips and tricks to help your child stay hydrated:
Offer fluids even if they aren't thirsty.By the time we feel thirsty, we're already dehydrated. Help create a “hydration habit” by offering fluids six times a day.
Feed them high-water-volume foods.Who doesn't love watermelon? Some fruits, like this summer staple, and vegetables, such as cucumbers, can contribute up to 20% of a child's daily fluid intake. Yogurt is also a good source of fluid.
Make it sweet.Slice up lemons or limes to add to a gallon of water, or even cucumber slices for a slightly different taste.
Serve it cold.Water tastes better cold, so keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. When it comes to school lunch or activities, pack a frozen water bottle.
Wean them off 100% juice.Juice is full of nutrients, but 100% juice is too high in sugar and calories for children to drink all day long. Diluting juice up to 50% with water is a healthier option.
Set a good example.Kids look to their parents, so encourage non-caffeinated beverages by trading the Diet Coke for water.
Make it fun.Decorate water bottles with paint pens and carry them wherever you go. Use your child's favorite things as inspiration - their sports team, school or even their favorite television show or music group. An added benefit is that it's easier to track how much fluid they've consumed.
Now that you have the information you need to keep your kids hydrated, pour a tall glass of water and say “cheers!” to a happy, healthy summer!