Courtesy of Cy-Fair Hospital
Running, jumping, swimming, climbing, throwing, catching, walking, skateboarding, water skiing, diving, playing tag, biking. The list of things for kids to do outside in the spring and summertime are just about endless. But the length of time they can spend doing these fun activities without staying hydrated isn’t. With temperatures heating up and families taking their activities outdoors, it is important for kids to drink plenty of fluids so they can keep having fun in the sun.
“Water is the drink of choice because it provides hydration and quenches thirst without adding calories, fat or sugar,” says Ambreen Aslam, M.D., pediatrician on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “Milk is also good since it provides protein to help build strong, healthy bones, as well as vitamin D and calcium. Another option is 100 percent fruit juice, but only in moderation. Real fruit juices can add a lot of extra calories, so try to limit children to less than four ounces each day.”
According to Dr. Aslam not all fluids are created equal. She advises against giving children certain beverages that are high in calories, have too much sugar, or provide no nutritional benefit. She gives the thumbs down to:
Flavored milk, which may contain approximately four teaspoons of added sugar in an eight-ounce serving.
Fruit drinks, such as lemonade, that are nothing more than sugar water.
Soft drinks, which can have nine teaspoons of sugar and 23 to 71 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce can.
Sports and energy drinks, which may contain 74 to 280 milligrams of caffeine in serving sizes that range from eight to 16 ounces.
Knowing what to give children to drink is just as important as knowing how much to drink and when. “Children participating in a sports practice or game, or just going outside to play shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to drink,” says Anna Perez-Silva, M.D., pediatrician on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “They need to drink before, during and after activities so they don’t get dehydrated. In addition to thirst, some symptoms of dehydration include feeling lightheaded or dizzy, having a rapid heartbeat, or getting dry lips and mouth.”
Recent studies have shown that American children tend to drink less than the adequate intake of water as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Perez-Silva recommends that to persuade children to drink more water, have a refillable water bottle close by during activities, and encourage kids to drink plain water with meals and snacks. Parents also can add a slice of lemon or orange to a glass of water to sweeten it or try agave nectar as a natural sweetener.