The hot summer days are coming — and with them hours upon hours of outdoor fun for kids. Unfortunately, the danger of dehydration is a constant companion during summer, when children are so busy playing outside they might forget to drink plenty of water. The best way to avoid dehydration, of course, is to continuously encourage kids to drink plenty of water. Make sure they have a water bottle with them wherever they go and are in the habit of drinking regularly.
On the days though when your child is away from you for longer periods of time, for instance at summer camp or playing at a friend’s house, be on the look out for the following clues that your child might be dehydrated. And remember, by the time your child is thirsty, dehydration has already set in.
It also is important to keep in mind that our body looses fluid through body functions such as going to the bathroom, breathing (that’s why mirrors fog up) and, of course, through tears and sweating. We lose a lot of fluid overnight, simply because we are sweating and breathing. Therefore, the first thing everyone in your family should do after getting up in the morning is having a nice glass of fresh water to replenish the body with fluid.
If there is not enough fluid in the body, systemic functions can start to fail — in the most serious cases, dehydration can lead to delirium or unconsciousness, the heart rhythm can be off or even kidney failure.
Warning signs of dehydration
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Dry or chapped lips
- Dry eyes
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of sweating
- Urge to eat food (dehydration can make kids want to eat food, not just drink water)
- Sleepiness at times your child isn’t usually tired
- Exhaustion, not as active as usually
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Confusion or seeming a little “out of it”
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heartbeat, along with a feeling of anxiety
- Drop in blood pressure
- Skin looks dry or shriveled and lacks elasticity (doesn’t bounce back when pinched into a fold)
- Bad breath
- Urine is dark yellow or amber colored and concentrated (unless your child is taking a multi-vitamin, which could color her urine yellow as well)
- Few or no tears when crying.
Extra tip for kid athletes:
There are old-fashioned coaches out there who won’t readily let kids take frequent breaks to hydrate. They may even think telling athletes to “tough it out” until a game is over, for instance, is a way to instill discipline and stamina in kids. This “coaching method” is dangerous.
ZisBoomBah nutrition expert and mom of four Jane Reagan, MEd, RD, suggests parents have a conversation with their kids about the importance of hydrating regularly. Encourage your child to tell you immediately if they are around someone, including their coach, who is not allowing them to drink water regularly.
Empower your child with this knowledge.
* Did you know? *
ZisBoomBah has a great tool for creating healthy habits, like hydrating regularly!
Use the ZisBoomBah Challenger Calendar — a game for achieving goals — to help your child adopt this healthy routine over the summer. Enter “Drink 4 – 6 glasses of water” as a daily task and they can earn ZBB points for remembering.
As additional incentive, set a weekly reward (e.g. a visit to the water park).
Read related articles:
- 5 Tips to Get Children to Drink Plenty of Plain Water
- No Sweat: Keep your kids cool with these refreshing homemade sports drinks