Dehydration is a dangerous situation, and it’s also one that’s all too common when the weather heats up and kids flock to the great outdoors in sweaty, enthusiastic crowds. Making sure that your brood stays hydrated while the mercury rises doesn’t have to be a losing battle, though. These tips can help you ensure that everyone in the family is getting the hydration they need, even when they’re running wild through the dog days of summer.
Stick With Water, and Offer Plenty
Give your kids more water than you think they will need. They should be drinking regularly on warm summer days. Kids have a lot of energy, short attention spans, love to run around and may not stop themselves from having fun if they start to feel thirsty. Make sure you stop them so they can have plenty of water throughout the day. You’ll have to regulate their intake until your kids are old enough to realize they need to drink water on their own. Sticking with water also helps to eliminate any added sugars, dyes or artificial flavorings that are often present in sports drinks.
Don’t Wait Until They’re Thirsty
If you wait until your kids say they are thirsty, you may have waited too long. Thirst is one sign of dehydration. Keep kids from falling victim to dehydration by making sure that water is always available and easy to obtain, and by encouraging them to rest on a fairly regular basis.
Avoid Caffeinated Beverages
Caffeine-filled drinks, such as soda and energy drinks, increase the risks of dehydration. Keep it simple with water whenever possible, substituting the occasional sports drink as a treat for special days.
Embrace the Shade
Encourage your kids to take breaks in shady spots, and to get out of the sun often. Even the shade of wearing a hat is better than nothing. That small break from sunshine will keep your kids feeling happier and healthier. You’ll want to keep in mind, however, that dehydration does not rely solely on a sunny day. If there is extreme heat under any sky, keep your kids indoors for the day.
Eat Plenty of Popsicles
Your kids will love you if you tell them to eat as many popsicles as they can throughout the day. This simple, yet delicious treat will help keep your kids hydrated on those warm summer days. Have your kids take a break every hour or so while they sit and enjoy their popsicles. Either bring the kids inside to get them out of the sun, or encourage them to eat their treats under the shade of a tree. Consider a sugar-free version, though, as excess sugar can make dehydration worse.
Offer Sports Drinks Sparingly
If your kids complain about the plain taste of water, consider giving them some sports drinks in place of water from time to time. Sports drinks are designed to hydrate, and are packed with things an active body needs, in addition to more than a few things it doesn’t. They replace lost electrolytes and other essentials that leave the body when exercising, playing or running around. They give your kids something different to enjoy, too, so that they don’t get sick of staying hydrated. Unfortunately, they’re also packed with added sugars, so you don’t want to rely solely on these drinks.
Dress for the Weather
Be sure to dress your kids appropriately for the weather. Light, loose clothes are best for hot days. Do not load them down with layers. Also, be sure they remain in dry clothing for the best results when it comes to keeping hydrated.
Know the Signs of Dehydration
There are signs you should watch for when it comes to juvenile dehydration. If your children show any of these symptoms, take action immediately.
Decreased frequency of urination is one sign of dehydration. A lack of bathroom breaks often indicates that a little one’s hydration level is relatively low. If your child complains of a dry mouth or tongue, this can also indicate dehydration. Your kids probably still need a nap, but if they sleep longer than usual or are sleepy more frequently, this is a severe sign of dehydration and you might consider seeking medical help. Irritability is another sign you should attend to in many cases. Crankiness is normal, but an unusual amount of irritability could be serious.
What to Do If Your Kids Do Get Dehydrated
Step one is don’t panic. If you panic, you’ll send your kids into a panic, and that’s never a good idea. Start off by giving them water to drink, but don’t let them chug it down greedily. Even if they are horribly thirsty, chugging the water is not a good thing. Their bodies will not be able to absorb that water quickly enough, and it may make them even sicker. If conditions do not begin to improve, seek medical attention, but again, be sure you don’t panic.
Dehydration can be horribly dangerous, but it’s a controllable and avoidable situation. Be sure your kids are getting the right amount of water and are getting the proper amount of shading throughout the day. Don’t let them stay outside all day, despite the temptation of letting them run wild and free.