Hot advice for kids: drink lots of water


July 21, 1992|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

Do your kids get headaches when the temperature soars?

Maybe they need to drink more water.

Sheah Rarback, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and Director of Nutrition for the Mailman Center for Child Development in Miami, suggests more summer fluids for kids.

Ms. Rarback points out that kids get busy playing and forget to drink. In the heat and humidity, kids dehydrate quickly, often ending up tired, cranky and headachy.

So parents would do well to establish "body breaks" early and often throughout the day.

If your children attend summer camp, Little League or sports camps, check with the folks in charge to be sure that water or other fluids are provided, and that kids are encourged to drink up, even before they get thirsty.

While almost any fluid will do, caffeine-containing drinks like colas or iced tea tend to promote dehydration. Salty snacks and concentrated sweets will increase fluid needs even further.

Water is the cheapest, cleanest, least-sticky fluid replacer available. But you might need to make it attractive and available to kids by packing it in a picnic jug full of ice and providing unbreakable cups for them to take outside. This also helps to keep your kitchen clean.

Or try a sports drink like Gatorade, Breakthrough or Performance packed in a biker's bottle. Although kids don't really need the added electrolytes, the small amount of added carbohydrate may act as a body boost. And if a little flavor and a fancy label get them to drink, that's what's important.

Fruit juices, especially orange and grapefruit, provide potassium, vitamin C and carbohydrate energy along with fluid. If the kids are drinking too much and it's getting too espensive, dilute them with more water. Straight or dilute, freeze them in ice cube trays for a "solid" liquid treat.

Kids can also get fluids from frozen summer treats like Popsicles or good, old-fashioned snowballs. These are low-nutrition foods. Use with discretion.

Juicy fruits help, too. Especially for picnics or at the beach, hand-held fruit like peaches, plums, nectarines and grapes add vitamins, minerals and fiber.

And then there's watermelon, that "signature" summer treat. Pop it into a cooler, bury it in ice and take it wherever you go. At the beach, on the boat or tubing down the Gunpowder, it's the ultimate thirst quencher for the "summer kid" in each of us.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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