Tips from UTD experts: Keeping your kids and yourself hydrated during summer
The temperatures continue rising, and staying hydrated – while perhaps not at the forefront of our minds – is vital. Here are tips from two UT Dallas experts for fun, easy solutions for keeping children hydrated and simple ways to make sure you drink enough water this summer.
Keeping Children Hydrated during Summer
Summer is here, and as the weather continues to heat up, staying hydrated is vital, especially for little ones.
Dehydration can lead to loss of energy, lethargy, irritability, headaches, difficulty sleeping, constipation, fainting and, if severe, can lead to more dire consequences, said Jenny McGlothlin, speech-language pathologist and clinician at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
Sometimes that cranky toddler is actually a thirsty toddler, McGlothlin said.
Pushing children to do anything around eating and drinking can backfire, so avoid pressuring them to drink more. Instead, try these tips to keep your children well hydrated during the summer months – adapted from the book “Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating,” by McGlothlin and Katja Rowell.
• For the child who enjoys strong or interesting flavors, consider offering tart juices like cranberry or pomegranate, or add lime or lemon juice to water.
• If they seem to enjoy the carbonation of soda, offer flavored seltzer water or mix sparkling water with juice.
• Turning up their noses at plain water? Consider adding water flavoring like Mio, Hansen’s Natural Fruit Stix, or watered-down juice or Gatorade.
• Find ice cube trays that make ice into shapes, and make ice from juice for a fun addition to water.
• Let your child pick out a special new cup to drink from at home.
• Keep an insulated cup in the car during days spent driving around in the heat.
• Show your child how to use the fridge water dispenser or invest in an easy-to-use water cooler.
• Keep cups where kids can easily get to them so they can have control over getting their own drinks.
• Try smoothies made with ice cubes, juice or frozen fruits for added hydration.
• Make afternoon snack time a tea party with a preferred liquid your child can pour into small cups.
• Boost liquid intake with high-water-content fruits such as watermelon or grapes.
• Try decaf fruit teas, served warm or cold, and add honey or a bit of sugar if needed.
• Serve shaved or crushed ice in a dish or cup with a spoon; you can pour some juice over it or just let them eat the ice.
• Offer Jell-O, frozen popsicles or sorbets/sherbets for dessert.
• Served canned fruit or fruit cups in 100% juice and let your child drink the juice.
If you notice that your child isn’t drinking well and seems to show the symptoms of dehydration, contact your medical provider.
Drink Up to Cool Down
Getting enough water every day is important for your health. This is especially true during the hot summer months, said Taylor Tran, registered dietitian and employee health program manager at The University of Texas at Dallas.
“Summer heat can take a toll on your body. It can increase your body temperature and cause increased sweating or loss of body water, increased risk of dehydration and heat illness,” Tran said.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water will help keep your temperature normal; lubricate and cushion your joints to keep you moving; aid in digestion, absorption and transporting nutrients; and help your body eliminate waste.
Tran suggests the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for daily water intake: about three liters for men and two liters for women. If you increase your activity or spend more time outdoors, drink even more water.
To help you drink enough water, Tran offers the following tips:
• Carry a water bottle with you for easy access.
• Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles and take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
• Add a wedge of lime or lemon or infuse with fresh fruits to add flavor and help you drink more than usual.
• Choose water as your beverage of choice when eating out to save money and reduce calories.