Drink up! Make sure kids stay hydrated this summer
Summer time brings steamy temperatures and constant outdoor activity. With the rising heat, it is critical for children and teenagers to hydrate themselves.
Dr. Kenneth Polin, a primary care pediatrician at Lurie Children's Primary Care -- Town & Country Pediatrics, shares the value of water intake for youngsters to reduce dehydration.
Our bodies are heavily composed of water and not drinking enough liquid can affect overall blood supply, impact muscles and create difficulty when exercising.
How many cups of water should children drink?
Polin emphasizes everybody has individualized needs based on their size and circumstances, including: temperature and activity levels. However, a general guideline is the bigger the child, the more water consumption.
"It's important for kids to drink enough liquid so they can have a healthy state of hydration," Polin said. "Parents and children can monitor their water intake by paying close attention to their urine. Urine should look like lemonade, and if it is a dark yellow, then that can be a signal the body is lacking water."
Irritability, headaches, dry mouth and behavioral changes are warning signs that children are not drinking enough, while infants may experience subtle fussiness.
"Infants can get dehydrated, but they shouldn't drink water if they are less than six months. They need to have an adequate amount of nutritional support for normal growth and development," he says.
To encourage hydration, Polin recommends implementing the following strategies:
1. Offer regular reminders to drink water
Provide a child a water bottle and make sure to check whether or not the bottle is being used. Monitor body functionality, such as whether or not a child feels very hot, acts inappropriately or exhibits signs of heat exhaustion.
2. Find a happy medium and consider a child's individualized preferences
Every child likes their water differently. Some may be more inclined to drink water using ice or a specific cup. Parents can put lemon or fruit in water for added taste. It is best to avoid sugary beverages, but sport drinks are OK as a backup option.
Fruits and vegetables that contain water can also help children stay hydrated. Though, Polin suggests water is generally more socially accessible than trying to carry around a large amount of fruit.
"If a child is outside on a hot day, parents should take into consideration how their child is acting instead of being set on the amount of water as an isolated fact," Polin says.
• Children's Health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Lurie Children's Hospital. For additional information, visit luriechildrens.org.