Keep children hydrated

By Pat Brinkman - OSU Extension

The hot days of summer are ahead and the kids are enthusiastically playing, jumping and running around the yard. You want to have them be active, but are they drinking enough fluid?

Children, especially infants and preschoolers, become dehydrated faster than adults. They often get busy playing and don’t recognize the signs of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include:

· Dry or sticky mouth

· Dry, cool skin

· Lethargy or irritability

· Fatigue or dizziness

· Lack of urine or only a small amount that is very dark yellow in color

· Few or no tears when crying

· Sunken eyes

Many times thirst is not the first sign or an early sign of dehydration. A child may be dehydrated before they feel thirsty. If a child drinks when thirsty it may not completely replace all the necessary body fluids. Thus, it’s important to drink before thirst develops and continue to drink.

What to drink? Water is the best choice for rehydration. Sports drinks are usually not needed unless the child has participated in prolonged (more than an hour) vigorous physical activity. Examples of vigorous physical activity are long-distance running or biking, soccer, basketball, or hockey. Water is the best option for rehydrating, and it has no calories. Milk can also be a good option for rehydration.

How much do they need to drink? There is no magic number but children should drink before the activity and then at regular intervals (every 20-30 minutes) during the activity and after it is over. The higher the temperature outside the more they need to drink. Eating foods with high water content can help hydrate. These include soup, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach and broccoli.

Make water fun to drink

1. Purchase some ice cube trays in fun shapes and use them.

2. Freeze fruit pieces and then add to the water to drink. You can cut them in interesting shapes before freezing.

3. Add fruit to the water, such as lemon, limes, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, etc.

4. Purchase an infuser bottle and add the fruit or cucumbers to provide more taste. Be sure to water the bottle each day after use.

5. Let the child pick up a new water bottle or special cup.

6. Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles to use when needed.

7. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so you can pour them cool drink, or have small bottles of water in the refrigerator they can easily grab.

8. Try some sparkling waters without added sugar or sugar substitutes if you want the carbonation. Read labels carefully.

Be a Good Example Yourself!

Pat Brinkman is the Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for OSU Extension in Fayette County.

By Pat Brinkman

OSU Extension