Summer has arrived. As the kids explode out of doors, make sure they are prepared for the heat. Drink WATER! Water is a vital ingredient for keeping body temperature in check. Water lost as sweat needs to be replaced to avoid dehydration. Make sure that kids are drinking BEFORE they get thirsty. Dehydration, left untreated, can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and very serious heat stroke.
Watch kids closely for signs of dehydration, including fatigue, dry lips and tongue, low energy, grayish skin, and lack of tears. Children’s body temperature rises faster than adults, so it is essential that they get plenty of fluids to keep them cool—especially when it’s hot and humid!
What you can do to keep kids hydrated:
• Make sure that kids drink fluids at every meal and snack time throughout the day, and during every period of physical activity.
• During physical activity (and especially on hot days), make sure that kids drink frequently, even if they are not thirsty. Every 20 minutes, give younger kids 5 ounces of cold water (about the size of a small juice box—or 10 gulps), and give teens about 9 ounces.
• Offer cold water – it’s absorbed faster! Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks – these are absorbed more slowly.
Choose drinks wisely to beat the heat:
Water flavored with fruit slices or frozen fruit juice ice cubes
Diluted 100% Juice (4oz water/4oz juice)
Juice Spritzers (juice and seltzer water)
Why not juice, soda or sports drinks?
Because they often contain sugar, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners. Also, high-sugar drinks are the number one source of added sugar in children’s diets. Drinking too many high sugar drinks contributes to overweight children and adults alike.
More facts to consider…
• Drinks high in sugar (including fruit sugars naturally present in 100% juice) slow down fluid absorption by the body.
• Caffeine is a stimulant, and high doses in children can lead to rapid heart beat, headaches, upset stomach and disturbed sleep. Kids can easily get too much caffeine by consuming several servings (or “super-sized portions”) of caffeine-containing drinks.
• Artificial sweeteners condition kids to expect “sweetness” in drinks and foods. Since their long-term safety is not fully understood, it is best to avoid them.
• Sports drinks are helpful only for highly intense activity that lasts longer than 1 hour, when the ability to keep going is required for competition. In normal play, stopping for a healthy snack and cold drink is a better way to refuel the body.
Harvard School of Public Health
Full article (PDF)