As most of us know, our bodies are made up of approximately 70 percent water. Water has many important functions in the body, including regulating your body’s temperature, digesting food and excreting waste. Your body loses water throughout the day when you sweat, breathe and urinate. Therefore, it’s important to replace the water you’ve lost to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated.
Children are at a greater risk of dehydration than adults. This is because in relation to their size, children have a larger proportion of their skin available to lose sweat and be exposed to heat. Additionally, children don’t always recognize that they’re thirsty, and if they’re not encouraged and reminded to do so, they may forget to drink. Add to that, children’s bodies don’t cool down at the same rate as adults which can throw their internal balance off – especially during our desert’s warmer climate.
The amount your child needs will vary depending on their age, size and level of activity. For children under 8 years of age, at least 4-6 glasses of water is recommended. For children older than 8 years of age a minimum of 6-8 glasses is recommended.
Taking a few precautions can help keep your child hydrated. Dehydration can cause headaches, thirst, cracked lips, dry mouth, constipation, dark urine, poor concentration, reduced mental performance, and overall fatigue.
Whether your child is starting kindergarten or their final year of high school, hydration needs play a big role in keeping them healthy and happy. We know that keeping younger kids hydrated isn’t always easy.
Below are just a few suggestions to keep in mind – before, during and after the school day:
- As know, it’s much better for the environment if you choose reusable water bottles. Let your kids choose their own water bottle. Or, when at home, serve water in colorful glasses or jugs.
- Pack a water bottle for school and when you go out
- Encourage your child to drink water before, after and during physical activity
- Always offer water with meals and snacks
- Experiment with temperature; try having a jug of water in the fridge, adding ice-cubes, or even drinking warm water when our desert evenings are cool
And, there are a number of ways to enjoy water:
Infused Water. Water doesn’t have to be basic; by adding a few fruits such as lemon, lime or oranges, your child just may be excited to drink water.
Electrolyte Infused Drinks. If your child is playing sports this summer, you may want to stock up on electrolyte-rich drinks. These drinks are formulated with “the optimal balance of sugar and electrolytes, needed to help replenish vital fluids, minerals and nutrients”.
100% Juice Drinks. While juice should be given in moderation, if you have a juice-obsessed child, this may be a short term option. You may want to consider slowly watering down the juice so that your child starts to prefer water to juice.
Hydrating Foods. Kids can also stave off dehydration by eating a mix of the most hydrating foods. While there are several foods that will help you stay hydrated, some easy ones to remember are cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and of course watermelon.
Above all, encourage your child to drink water, even if they don’t like it. And be a role model – make a point of drinking water with your kids.