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How to Keep Kids Hydrated

Packing up to hit the beach for vacation soon. My 15 year-old daughter (the swimmer) asked me to do a triathlon with her (I don’t swim). We compromised on a duathlon, and with butterflies in my stomach, I hit the road in my running shoes and logged my first 2 miles in 7 months. We will be training for a short race in mid-September–and I am nervous! I’ll keep you posted as to my progress.

Today’s guest blogger is Anne London, a pediatric dietitian in Connecticut, and owner of Petite Nutrition.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I. LOVE. SUMMER. As a California girl transplanted to freezing New England, you can imagine how I feel the need to soak up every drop of the “twelve” (but let’s be realistic – eight) weeks of hot summer. With soaring temperatures, inevitably come long beach days, hours out on the boat, sports camps, family barbecues, swimming, parks, and hot, fun exhaustion for kids. At the end of a summer day, I like my kids exhausted, happy, and filthy – an indication of a summer day lived to the fullest!

 

As a pediatric registered dietitian, I know the summer heat is no joke. Parents of kids who are outdoors in the heat need to take their hydration seriously. Did you know kids have a larger body surface area in relation to their body mass than adults causing their internal temperature to rise faster and acclimate more slowly to rising outside temps?

So how do we keep kids hydrated during these hot summer months? Here are some easy to follow tips:

  • Offer fluids every 20 minutes – 4 ounces for little kids, 6 to 8 ounces for bigger kids.
  • Drink before, during and after long periods in heat and/or exertion. Once a child is thirsty, they are on their way to dehydration.
  • Water is appropriate for most children and adolescents. Save electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade for vigorous exertion lasting more than one hour when significant carbohydrate, sodium and potassium are required for quick repletion. Electrolyte drinks are not appropriate for afternoons at the playground. Energy drinks are never recommended for children or adolescents.
  • For older kids, participating in strenuous sports camps or games, weighing kids before and after the activity can determine fluid losses. 1 pound lost = 2 cups of fluid. Replete accordingly.
  • Water over juice – Most of you know that juice has little nutritional value, fills kids up, contributes to obesity, adds lots of unnecessary sugar, and yikes(!) promotes tooth decay! Teach your kids to be water drinkers. Make water fun with kids “water sangria”, fun straws and cool water bottles. If your kids are juice lovers, try making 100% fruit juice ice cubes and adding to water. Also try freezing whole fruit and adding to jugs of water to bring outdoors. Making frozen fruit popsicles with whole fruit and diluted juice is a summertime treat and great way to involve kids in the kitchen!
  •  Offer fluid heavy foods such as fruits and vegetables (most have 70-90% water content). 20-25% of our maintenance fluids come from food. It isn’t surprising that my favorite summertime fruit, watermelon, is 96% water. Try making fun fruit kabobs to help kids meet their fluid needs. They are sure to gobble them up! We recently made green and red kabobs (above) as well as Catherine McCord’s Magical Fruit Wands (also below) for some fun family barbecues. They were gone in an instant!

 Photo credits: Petite Nutrition, LLC

Sources: www.aap.org

www.eatright.org 

Anne London, MS, RD, CD-N is a pediatric registered dietitian and owner of Petite Nutrition. She works with children and families to develop healthy eating habits for life. Anne graduated with honors from Brown University and worked in several business roles in New York City prior to earning her masters of science degree in Nutrition from Columbia University. She was selected as the Outstanding Dietetic Intern by the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for the state during her clinical dietetic internship. She also works as part of a multidisciplinary feeding team at a local hospital to address feeding disorders in children, and has been certified in SOS feeding therapy. Anne was raised in northern California where playing in a backyard filled with pomegranate, fig, persimmon and almond trees inspired her love of cooking and eating seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to cooking, she enjoys entertaining, playing tennis, running and reading. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and two children. All opinions are my own.

You can find Anne on Facebook, Twitter and her business website.

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