What do you need to survive? Food and shelter, certainly. But do you ever think about water?
Today, we are going to focus on why your body needs water and why keeping hydrated is important. The human body is made up of 60% of water. Water allows your body’s cells to grow, regulates body temperature, acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord and helps deliver oxygen all over the body, just to name a few benefits.
Babies and children, who have a hard time regulating their body temperature, are at a higher risk to become dehydrated through extreme heat or illness.
Safe Kids Upstate, which is part of the Children’s Hospital of Greenville Health System, believes as with any condition the best treatment is prevention. That can be tough with children, though, since by the time they realize they are thirsty, they may be already dehydrated. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an active child should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. But that can be a challenging task for parents and caregivers as well as for adults themselves.
Safe Kids Upstate offers these easy tips to help keep your family hydrated and cool this summer season.
Make Water Interesting
Be creative in the way you offer water. This could be anything from buying an inexpensive “summer” water bottle that is used only for outside play or flavoring the water with fruit. Be sure not to add large amounts of sugar. Watered-down fruit juice and liquids with crushed ice are always a hit. You can also stay hydrated eating foods that contain large amounts of water. Strawberries, cucumbers and even yogurt are filled with water. But especially in the summer, think watermelon.
Make sure to have fruit cut in bite-size pieces and easily available to children to reach. A very familiar children’s snack, “Ants on a Log” made with a piece of celery with peanut butter and raisins, would be great to offer. You may have a small ice chest outside with cold snack and drinks to encourage staying hydrated. In our family, making our own popsicles was always a favorite. We used small Dixie paper cups and popsicle sticks. You can use coconut water, yogurt and fruit, both for nutrition and hydration.
Know the Signs of Dehydration
Be alert for the following signs of dehydration, and notify your pediatrician if you become concerned.
Mild to Moderate Dehydration
- Plays less than usual
- Fewer tears when crying
- Urinates less (Fewer than 6 wet diapers a day for infants)
- Parched, dry mouth
Severe Dehydration (in addition to the symptoms listed above)
- Excessively sleepy
- Wrinkled skin
- Urinates only one to two times per day
- Very fussy
- Cool, discolored hands and feet
Above all, be a water role model for your family. Be sure you are staying hydrated and avoiding outside temperatures at the hottest parts of the day 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Enjoy your summer and stay safe!
Daby Snipes, Ed.S, is a project coordinator with the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy’s Safe Kids Upstate, part of the Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital. Get more tips at safekidsupstate.org and follow Safe Kids Upstate at facebook.com/safekidsupstate.