It’s summertime and as the weather heats up, staying hydrated is even more important, especially for our 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*. Sometimes that cranky toddler is really a thirsty toddler, but with regular opportunities to drink and take in food with high water content, almost all children do just fine. (Use common sense around activity on hot days and sun exposure. Some kids are more sensitive than others, so watch your child and maybe skip that all-day soccer tournament when the temperature is in the 90’s!) Here are some tips to keep your children well hydrated and happy during the summer months.
Pushing children to do anything around eating and drinking can backfire, so avoid pressuring them to drink more. Instead, try these ideas:
- 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 nose at plain water? Consider adding water flavoring like Mio, Hansen’s Natural Fruit Stix, or watered-down juice or Gatorade.
- Get shaped ice cube trays and make ice from juice or water for a fun addition to water.
- Let them pick out a special new cup that they can drink from at home and on the go.
- 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 a water cooler they can work by themselves.
- 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 in small cups that your child can pour into.
- Boost liquid intake with high water content fruits such as watermelon or grapes.
- Try decaf fruit teas, such as lemon or berry flavor, 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 percent juice and let your child drink the juice.
Happy Hydration! *If you notice that your child isn’t drinking well and seems to show the symptoms of dehydration, contact your medical provider.
These tips were adapted from the book Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating by Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin, New Harbinger Publications 2015.