Skies are clear and the sun is shining, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to play outside. Whether still feeling cooped up from a long winter or a wet spring, kids are itching to get outside this summer to run, jump, ride bikes and play.
But all that fun doesn’t come without risk. Children don’t always recognize signs of thirst or take the time to get a drink of water, which puts them at greater risk for dehydration – especially in hot and humid summer conditions. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that nearly 55 % of participants ages 6 to 19 are inadequately hydrated.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends the following for children:
- Ages 4 to 8: 7.5 cups per day
- Ages 9 to 13: 10 cups per day
- Girls ages 14 to 18: 10 cups per day
- Boys ages 14 to 18: 14 cups per day
There are lots of great, fun ways to keep them drinking.
- Drink mostly water. It’s the best fluid for you when you’re well. But yes, I know, I have 4 children. They drink quite a lot of water (when they get thirsty it’s what they ask for.) If they don’t want water, add fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, lemon/lime) or mint to add some zip to the taste.
- Use straws as a great way to get your kids drinking. You can get super amazing ones now; ones that go round and round, or do squiggly shapes, or really, really long ones that kids love.
- Bring in the ice. Kids love ice, either in drinks or by itself, or to play with. Get some fun ice cube trays and you’ll be filling your freezer five times a day.
- Eat fruit. Some fruits are very high in water content and are great source of liquid. Our favorite is watermelon. I put it in the fridge, in bite sized pieces, so it’s refreshing and cool. A great, hydrating snack.
- Freeze everything. Make home- made popsicles. I mostly use fruit, so mashed banana, cooked apple or peach, anything you fancy really. My recent favorite was a bit of chopped up mango that was looking a little sorry for itself and milk. If you don’t have a popsicle maker you can use the ice cube trays.
- Make water readily available. Children will drink when they’re thirsty if there is a drink available.