As we approach the summer months, it’s important to make sure kids are staying hydrated. It can be easy for your active little one to forget to drink enough water, especially when he is busy playing outside during the warm summer months. And, it can be difficult to track how much your child is drinking, especially if he attends daycare or camp during the day.
What are some signs to watch for that may indicate your child is dehydrated?
- Decrease in wet diapers. If your baby or young child goes more than 3 hours without needing a diaper change, it could be an indication that he needs to drink more fluids.
- Sunken eyes
- Dry tongue or mouth
- Dark-colored urine
- Low energy levels
- Crying with no tears
- Dry or cracked lips
In addition, if your child complains of thirst, this can be a sign that he is already dehydrated. If your child is anything like mine, it can sometimes be quite the challenge to get him to drink enough.
Here are some clever ways to get your little one excited about drinking water:
- Buy colorful cups and crazy straws. It can be fun for your child to pick his favorite colored cup along with a twisty straw to drink his water from. Seeing the water go through the shape of the straw can encourage him to keep drinking.
- Add ice. Let your little one plop in a few ice cubes (bonus points for fun shapes such as stars, hearts or animals) before he drinks.
- Slice up some fruit. Add a couple slices of orange, lemon or strawberry to add a pop of color and flavor.
- Talk to your child about WHY it’s important to drink water. Water helps our bodies move fast and keeps our skin healthy. Try to relate water consumption to your child’s favorite activities. Does he want to jump higher? Score the winning soccer goal? Tumble faster during gymnastics practice? Proper hydration is key to achieving these goals.
While drinking pure water is always the best option, there are a variety of other ways kids can get their daily fluids. For example, offering fresh fruits and vegetables (especially watermelon, oranges, pineapple, spinach and peppers) can help increase your child’s water intake, as well as “watering down” his favorite beverages. In fact, combining half juice and half water not only limits the amount of sugar your child consumes, but makes for a refreshing drink that adds water to his diet (and may be more exciting to drink than just plain water!).
It’s important to note that although making sure to drink enough liquids during the day is key, other factors can come into play that can cause dehydration such as sickness and increased sweating. If your child has diarrhea, is vomiting and/or is experiencing a fever, he might be losing more water than normal from his body. In addition, high heat levels and increases in physical activity cause excessive sweating, which can quickly lead to dehydration. It’s important to up your child’s fluid levels during these times.
Water is essential to a healthy childhood (and adulthood!). Make sure to model good drinking habits for your child and try to always have a water bottle on hand.
How do you help your child drink enough throughout the day?