Warmer weather means children will be looking forward to having some fun in the sun.
While running and playing, kids are bound to work up a sweat. This is why it is important to make sure they are staying hydrated while enjoying their time outdoors. Water is needed in the body to regulate temperature, help digest food, and to excrete waste. It is important to replenish the water that is lost in urine, sweat, and even from the air we breathe so our bodies can continue to carry out these functions.
Due to their smaller size, children have a higher risk of becoming dehydrated. This is because they have a larger proportion of skin available to lose sweat and be exposed to the hot sun. Children are also not always able to recognize when they get thirsty and might forget to stop for a drink. If a child complains of headaches or dizziness, or has cracked lips, poor concentration, dark yellow urine, or fatigue, these are signs that they may be dehydrated.
The amount of water children need varies depending on age, body size, activity level, health, and even the temperature outside. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following fluid needs for children: ages 4-8 need 7 cups daily, ages 9-13 need around 9 cups daily, and ages 14-18 need 10-14 cups daily. These recommendations include drinks and any water provided from solid foods, like fruits and vegetables. Fruits and some vegetables have a high water-content so they are a great snack that will also keep you hydrated. Watermelon, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and cucumbers are all nutrient-rich and hydrating; perfect for those hot summer days.
Getting children to drink more water might not always be easy, but there are a few ways to make it more enjoyable for them. Kids like to be involved, try having them pick out their own reusable water bottle, colorful paper straws, or fun shaped ice cube trays at the store so they are excited about using them. For children who do not enjoy plain water, adding fruit slices for more flavor and color might make it more appealing to them. Popsicles are also a great way to keep kids hydrated; however, most are full of artificial flavorings and colors and don’t provide many nutrients. Try making homemade popsicles for a hydrating afternoon snack with the recipe on the next page! Other creative ways to keep your child hydrated is to serve them smoothies or cold soup.