As the temperatures climb, and kids head out doors for playtime and team sports, remember that hydration is an important part of the energy balance equation. Plain drinking water is a clear choice for proper hydration, but it’s not the only option. Beverages such as milk, juice, sports drinks and soft drinks, —and even foods such as fruits and vegetables—help meet the body’s water needs. Your kid’s daily hydration needs will vary depending on their ages, genders and physical activity levels; the temperature outside; and their health, including whether they have a fever.
Tap into these hydration tips to help your kids drink up for good health.
1. Keep fluids flowing. Offer smaller amounts of beverages throughout the day, rather than large amounts at one time.
Hydration tip: Think carefully about the beverages you choose. Those with added sugars and calories, but few other nutrients, should be occasional choices.
2. Make fluids fun. For younger kids, serve beverages in colorful cups and use crazy-shaped loopy straws.
3. Let kids pick their own water bottles. They’ll be more excited about carrying beverages to school, sports and other activities.
Hydration tip: To keep beverages chilled, freeze half of the fluid in the bottle overnight, and then top it off in the morning.
4. Use caution when it’s hot outside, especially for active kids. In high temperatures, kids don’t sweat as much as adults do, so it’s harder for them to cool off. This puts them more at risk for dehydration. When kids are playing outside on hot days, head off problems by making sure they drink fluids before, during and after activity. As a guideline, encourage at least 4 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes, or whenever there’s a break or time-out.
Hydration tip: One ounce equals about two “sips.”
5. Take care when it’s cold, too. Kids who play winter sports or play actively outside in cold, dry environments may sweat, especially when wearing lots of layers or protective gear. So follow the same fluid guidelines as for hot weather.
6. Slip in fluid-rich foods. Remember to serve soups and juicy fruits and veggies such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, lettuce, watermelon, oranges, grapes, peaches and strawberries. Sweet treats made with water such as gelatin or frozen fruit pops are great on an occasional basis, too.
7. Offer flavored fluids. In addition to water, kids can get their hydration from an occasional flavored beverage Juice drink pouches are popular and easily stowed in backpacks for field trips and car travel. Powdered “on-the-go” drink mixes are also handy options.
Hydration tip: You can also add lemon, lime or orange slices to water to flavor it naturally.
Jamie Phillips, M.S., RD is a Food & Nutrition Specialist at Kraft Foods Group in Glenview, IL.