Banner Health Services  

How to keep your child hydrated this summer

 

Provider PhotoJohn Seward, MD, is a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Maricopa, Ariz.

Question:  How do I know if my child is getting enough hydration in the hot summer months? And what are the best drinks to offer my sports-minded, active family?
 
Answer: Avoiding dehydration in the summer months is a very important preventive health issue to teach your children. The risks of dehydration (excessive fluid loss) are dangerous since early signs are vague and intervention often comes late.
 
The first signs of dehydration – mild confusion, irritability, and sluggish activity – can be misinterpreted as just being hot and tired. Other signs of dehydration such as decreased tears, dry skin, and decreased urination will likely be missed on the soccer field, an outing in a park or other fun environment. Dehydration can lead quickly to a pale, weak child with a rapid pulse, and other more serious conditions.
 
Luckily, prevention is very easy and should be taught to all of our children. Prior to activity, it is important for our children to be taught to drink adequate fluids. Do not accept your child saying they are not thirsty. Urine should be clear, not a yellow color; this is an excellent marker for adequate hydration.
 
Assuming good pre-activity hydration, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 9-12 year-old boys or girls take 3-8 oz. of proper fluids every 20 minutes during active exercise to make up for their sweat-induced water losses. While water is an excellent fluid for routine replacement, the use of sport drinks can help replace sodium loss for activities lasting more than 1 hour. Sodas and other soft drinks are not recommended as some may contain caffeine and other diuretics that can increase fluid loss.
 
Other recommendations:

  • Wear light-colored, lightweight, UV protective clothing.
  • When playing sports, teach children to report openly if they feel weak or very hot. Assure that coaches monitor for signs of confusion or weakness.
  • For any activity outdoors in the heat be sure there are adequate rest periods and plan for providing shade.


Outdoor activities in the summer can be fun but require skin protection, extra fluids and good pre-exercise hydration.
 

Page Last Modified: 04/01/2013
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