Hello summer! It’s almost time for the kids to get out of school and many will be starting summer activities and sports. One of the most important parts of health is staying hydrated, but summer time can make that even more challenging than usual. Kids can become dehydrated for a variety of reasons, including a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating from long periods of exercise or heat, and some illnesses.
If getting your kids to drink water is a struggle, you’re not alone. Encourage your kids to drink up with these fun tips that can last all summer long!
1. Make Water Visible
Children are more likely to drink water if they can see it. Place water for them to drink strategically around your home. Have a pitcher available in the kitchen, serve them water with dinner, and place a glass of water next to their bed at night. Children who don’t consume enough water will begin to show signs and symptoms of dehydration. The signs of dehydration in children include:
A dry or sticky mouth
Very little or no tears when crying
Eyes that look sunken into their head
A sunken soft spot on a baby’s head
Lack of urine for 12 hours in older kids, or a very small amount of dark yellow urine
Lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours in younger children, or a very small amount of dark yellow urine
Cool, dry, wrinkled skin
Rapid and deep breathing
Being thirsty is not a good sign of dehydration.
The feeling of being thirsty may be an indicator that your child is already dehydrated. Allow them to drink as much water as they want if they are feeling thirsty, however, remember that they may not be fully hydrated even if they are no longer thirsty.
2. Make it Fun!
Buy your kids special cups or crazy straws so that drinking water becomes more fun. Let it be something they look forward to when they come home from school or something special they get when they are in the car. Kids who participate in sports should drink water before an activity begins, during the activity, and after the activity ends to stay hydrated.
3. Make it Tasty
Some kids just don’t want to drink water! If your kids really love juice, mix three-parts water with one-part 100% fruit juice to create your own concoction. You can also make a pitcher of water mixed with fruits like melons, lemons, oranges, strawberries, or grapes to create different flavors. Let your kids help mix up this water so they will be more interested in drinking it!
4. Make It Interesting
Create ice cubes filled with fruit to make water more interesting to drink. The fruit will add a pop of color and watching the ice melt could be a fun game. When all of the water is gone, your kids get to eat the fruit which is also filled with water.
5. Buy Reusable Water Bottles
Buy reusable water bottles for the whole family! Take them with you in the car, on outings, and to sporting events. Kids who participate in sports run a higher risk of dehydration, especially if they are outside in the heat. Dehydration in children can cause extreme fussiness, sleepiness, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeats, rapid breathing, a fever, and in serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness.
6. Make Homemade Popsicles
By mixing together 100% fruit juice and water and freezing it in a tray with a stick, you can get your kids to consume more water! This fun activity can also help beat the heat during a summer day. A child who has become dehydrated from physical activity or heat should rest indoors or in the shade and drink water until they are rehydrated.
If your child has become dehydrated due to an illness, you should talk to your doctor about what products they recommend to get children rehydrated. There are many products that you can buy that are specifically made for rehydration (these are not sports drinks!).
7. Make It Cold
Adding ice to water can make your kids more inclined to drink it. Children who become severely dehydrated from activity or heat are at an increased risk of developing a heat injury like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or the very serious heat stroke. Severe dehydration can also cause the swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, or worse.
8. Don’t Buy The Bad Stuff
Your kids aren’t in control of what you buy at the store, you are! Take this time to avoid sports drinks, soft drinks, and other sugary drinks. Sports drinks are only appropriate if your child participates in athletics or another activity that causes sweating. If you don’t have these types of drinks in your house, your kids can’t drink them!
There is no magic number of ounces of water that your child should be consuming everyday. It all depends on their activity level, the weather, and what other foods and drinks they have been consuming. Most adults have probably heard that they should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but that also includes the water in other foods and drinks they have been consuming.
Adults can follow these tips as well and make drinking more water a family affair! It’s important to call a family medicine provider if your child develops any signs of dehydration, especially if it is associated with vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, or they haven’t wet any diapers in over 8 hours. Schedule a spring and sports physical with a provider today to get your kids ready for anything summer brings!