Children have a seemingly endless store of energy at their disposal, and when the summer heat rolls in, they can spend entire days outdoors playing. All that physical activity is great for keeping them energized and entertained, but sometimes it can have consequences. One major result of over-exertion for children is dehydration. While a mild case of dehydration is not life-threatening, it can cause troubling and uncomfortable symptoms in your little one and take away from time that could otherwise be spent playing. This week, we would like to offer some ways to recognize and prevent dehydration as we enter the last months of summer.
Dehydration can manifest itself in a number of ways, but a few standard symptoms to look out for include; a dry mouth or skin, lethargic or irritable behaviour, fatigue and dizziness. Another symptom you can watch for is a lack of urine in a 6-12 hour period, depending on the age of your child. As a general rule, if an infant has a lack of urine or wet diapers in a 6-8 hour period, they may be dehydrated. For older children, lack of urine in a 12 hour period can be an indicator of dehydration.
Hydration is important at all times, but be especially aware of these symptoms when your child is very physically active, or sick. They are losing more water than normal through things like sweating or vomiting and will need more frequent and intense hydration.
Another thing to note is that your child could possibly be dehydrated before they actually become thirsty, so do not count on thirst as a sole sign of dehydration. Make sure your child drinks regularly, before they feel thirsty, and continue even after they have quenched their thirst. This will ensure that their fluids have actually been replaced as opposed to just taking care of their thirst alone.
A good idea is to make sure that you always have a bottle, sippy cup or drinking bottle on hand with water that your child can either regularly sip from or carry with them throughout the day. If they have partaken in a lot of physical activity, try to have them take a “hydration break” where they drink and rest in a cool or shaded place. This will ensure that their lost fluids are replaced quickly and properly.
Plain, cool water is always the best option to hydrate your child, but if they are not taking to the water, there are many snacks and food options that also contain a lot of water and can be very helpful in providing fluid replacement. Avoid things like fizzy beverages and sugary juices, because they will not provide the same amount of hydration as water and contain high amounts of unnecessary sugars.
Some good foods to incorporate into your child’s diet include:
Cucumbers are the food with the most water content with 96.7% water, and are a great finger snack to feed your little ones — simply slice them up and serve them with something like hummus to add a little flavour and taste
This is the leafy green with the most water, at 95.6% water and is better than its darker relatives for hydrating — try using iceberg lettuce as a wrap for things like burgers and tacos instead of bread or grain products!
Celery is another great, refreshing finger snack for kids — you can dice it up and serve it plain, or make something like a classic celery boat with hummus or peanut butter in the center to add some excitement
Watermelon is 91.5% water and a perfect summer snack. To get really creative, try dicing the watermelon up very small, and putting it in an ice-pop tray with plain water to make a healthy, hydrating and homemade ice-pop
Any berries are usually good options for hydrating, but strawberries top the list with a water content of 91%! If your child is looking for a varied taste, try mixing them up a berry fruit salad with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, and they are sure to get a great hydrating meal!
All of these foods are great, refreshing summer snacks that are easy to prepare and easy for little hands to manage. Including these foods into your child’s diet, and making sure you abide by a well-monitored drinking schedule are two surefire ways to ensure your active little ones stay happy and healthy as they play all day.