Children are usually active and stay most of the time outside to play, especially when the weather is clement. Even when the activities that they engage in are quite intense and makes them sweat a lot, they would rather spend their time with friends in the sun. Teaching them the value of proper hydration and encouraging them to bring one of the best water bottles for kids will make it easier for them to follow a systematic hydration plan.
If you are a parent of children or a child, you should understand, however, that active children’s body does not adjust well to hot temperatures (temperatures greater than 95°F), unlike adults. They produce more heat when engaging in physical activities but sweat less than adults. As a result, body heat is not released as much as it should leading to dehydration.
Aside from this, a child’s thirst mechanism is not properly functioning, hence they may not recognize the signal properly. Most of the time, they take a thirst for hunger. There are times when children totally ignore the signal, especially when they are totally focused on what they are doing. As they don’t drink enough to replace the body fluids they lose during prolonged activity as they are having fun, they become dehydrated in the process or develop other potentially life-threatening heat illnesses. As such, they will need someone to look after them or constantly remind them that they need to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated throughout the day.
To encourage your child to stay properly hydrated as they are playing outdoors, consider these tips:
Aware of the physical condition of your child
Make sure that you are totally aware of the physical condition of your child. Remember that a child who is physically fit may not adjust well in the heat. Note that an overweight child or one that is not used to doing exercises should be forced to engage in prolonged activities right away. They need to start slow or they may lose body water and get dehydrated faster. Dehydration of more than 3% of body weight may lead to a heat-related illness. If your child is participating in organized sports, you may need to talk with her or his coach to set practice schedules during cooler hours, when the child can perform best but will lose less water in the process.
Get your child’s body accustomed to higher temperatures
Allow your child’s body to get used to the higher temperature. Do this slowly, however. Introduce your young athlete to higher temperatures so the child can get acclimatized soon. Increase the intensity and length of workouts a period of two weeks. This way their bodies will be accustomed to drink more, increase blood volume, and sweat more. Sweating not only releases toxins in the body, but it also helps release heat to maintain the temperature balance in the body.
As you train your child’s body to get acclimatized to higher environmental heat, you need to make sure that they get plenty of water to drink. Teach them the value of safe hydration, which means drinking regularly and not only when they feel that they are thirsty. Encourage them to bring a water bottle wherever they go so they can just sip smartly. They should not be encouraged to just wait for a break when they can look for a water source or a vending machine where they can find what they think can quench their thirst. If you already know what’s in their water bottle, you won’t have to worry whether they are drinking safe water or something else.
Note that while sports drinks may be fine for some kids during periods of heavy activity, these water alternatives may also contain high levels of sugar. Their taste can also improve a kids’ desire to drink, but they should be provided during exercises only.
Let your child rest often
You also need that your child takes frequent breaks, especially if he or she exercises hard or engages in sports on hot days. Make sure that their time on the playing field is cut back to limit their exposure to the heat and to allow them to enjoy much-needed breaks. They should also be taught that hydration starts even before they begin to play. And as they play, both the child’s coach and you, the parent or guardian, should make sure that your child drink often. You can help them set automatic notifications on their phones or watches to remind them to take a sip after about every 20 minutes.
Note that although there are certain factors that may affect a child’s water requirement such as age, sex, environmental conditions, as well as possible psychological influences (taste and color of the available fluid, distance from the water source, etc.). However, there is a general recommendation that health organizations, like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, that indicate the following beverage and water requirement for kids, as follows:
Age Range Gender Total Water (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years Girls and Boys 7
9 to 13 years Girls 9
14 to 18 years Girls 10
Notified of changing weather conditions
You should also make yourself regularly notified of changing weather conditions so you can plan accordingly. Get acquainted with the heat index. This is a measure of how hot it really feels when the actual air temperature in combination with humidity. Take note that your child should not be training, exercising, or engaged in any prolonged activity when the relative humidity is 35% and the air temperature is 95°F as this may lead to cause heat illness. Even if the climate is dry humidity can still be high if, for instance, the sprinkler systems are set to run before early morning practices. Make sure that you won’t let your child have practices or training sessions during the hottest time of the day. The hardest workouts should be set during early morning or late afternoon/evening.
As the clothes that your child may wear during these activities may also affect how the child’s body may respond to environmental heat, you need to make sure that they wear appropriate clothes. Encourage them to wear lightweight, light-colored clothes. If they will need to use heavy equipment and pads, they should first train in lighter clothes for a week to acclimate their bodies, before they put on the bulky uniform.
Make sure that you watch your kids closely, in cases that you are allowed to or can do so. Watch out for any signs of dehydration or other problems before, during, and after the activity, event or training. Pay special attention when your kid/kids is/are eagerly competing or performing beyond his/their capacities.
Finally, always have an emergency plan. Make sure that not only you are aware of these safety precautions. Make sure that you communicate with all trained support staff who knows how to administer first aid as well as what to do during an emergency.