Keeping your child hydrated
Keeping your child hydrated
Keeping hydrated, or well-watered, is very important for children at this time of year, especially in hot weather. As adults we are good at spotting the signs when we’re thirsty and doing something about it, whether it’s a refreshing cup of tea, a quick slurp of water or something a bit stronger. Children are not so good at managing this very important aspect of their general health and well-being.
That’s why us grown-ups should encourage our little ones to drink throughout the day, especially when they are active or when it’s hot weather.
Signs of dehydration in children
Babies are particularly at risk of dehydrating for two main reasons. Firstly, they can’t tell us when they’re thirsty and secondly, they have a low body weight and so are susceptible to even small amounts of fluid loss.
The signs of dehydration to look out for in a baby are:
• few or no tears when they cry
• sunken fontanelle (or soft spot) on their head
• fewer wet nappies
• become drowsy
For older children they are:
• dry cracked lips/dry mouth
• fewer visits to the toilet
• become irritable
• cold or dry skin
• low energy
If you’re worried that your child, especially a baby, is suffering as a result of dehydration, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible, from your local chemist, doctor or hospital, depending on how bad things are.
How much should my child drink?
As with all health advice there’s never a straightforward answer. It
depends on age, gender, how active your child is and what the weather is like. The British Nutrition Foundation give some good advice though. They say children should aim to drink about 6-8 cups of water per day, with younger children drinking about 120-150 ml per cup, to keep fully hydrated. As long as you’re giving your child opportunities to take a drink, without it becoming a nagging issue for them, they will learn over time to recognise the signs and manage this for themselves.
What should my child drink?
There has been so much in the media recently about the tax on drinks with high sugar content that we should all be clued up by now that it’s not a great idea to give your children fizzy, sugary drinks – tooth decay, weight gain, etc., etc. That doesn’t mean children can’t have drinks which they enjoy – just steer them in the right direction. In fact, when your child is very young it’s a good chance to introduce them to some great tasting drinks that are also relatively healthy, such as fruit juices and smoothies.
You still have to be careful not to load them with too much of the natural sugar that is in 100% fruit juice and fresh fruit, so a mixture of tasty fruit drinks and water or milk is best. It’s best to dilute fruit juice with water and serve with a meal to lessen the chance of tooth decay or just drop a few slices of orange, lemon or lime into a jug of water to make water tastier.
Fresh fruit and veg are also a great way to keep your child hydrated. So popping a carrot or an apple into a lunch box keeps thirst at bay as well as hunger.
Click here for some more great tips on making hydration fun for kids..
So it’s great to go out and enjoy hot days, at home or on holiday, but don’t forget to make it part of your routine to keep your child’s fluid levels topped up when the sun shines.
Superkids Children’s Services Manager