A study published in the American Journal of Public Health earlier this year says your kids aren’t getting enough water — especially your boys. While hydration is always important, during the warmer summer months when our bodies lose more water through sweat and respiration, adequate water intake is even more essential to good health.
The study looked at over 4100 kids across the country between the ages of 6 and 19. Their level of hydration was assessed by measuring the concentration of their urine.
- 55% of kids were dehydrated
- boys were 75% more likely to show signs of dehydration
- non-Hispanic blacks and younger children were also less likely to take in enough water
While a little dehydration is not necessarily a dangerous thing, even mild dehydration can cause headaches, loss of focus, cognitive impairment, stomach aches, nausea and irritability. Dehydration can also lead to fatigue, constipation and poor coordination.
How much should your kids be drinking?
AGE Recommended Cups of Water
9-13 girls 7
9-13 boys 8
To ensure your family is properly hydrated and to ward off summer crankiness and complaining, which can ruin your day, follow these ten simple tips.
- Encourage your children to drink water. Kids, especially younger ones, have an immature thirst reflex and may need reminders to drink.
- Teach your kids about the symptoms of dehydration. The sooner your kids can recognize the connection between the way they feel and their diet, the more independent and healthy they will be.
- Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks. There is little nutritional benefit, if any, to these kinds of beverages and they can act as a diuretic, increasing the risk of dehydration.
- Don’t pack your cooler with sports drinks. While kids may think they taste better, water is the best way to hydrate on the field. Provide cut up fruits and veggies if you are worried about vitamins and minerals.
- Make it easy for kids to grab water. Provide stools so little kids can reach faucets and leave cups near your sink or water cooler. Kids should be able to get their own water without having to wait for someone to get it for them.
- Get creative. Add cucumbers, lemons, limes, strawberries, mint or watermelon to your water. The splash of color and the sweeter flavor will be more appealing to kids. I love this pitcher and always keep it fruit and water filled in our fridge.
- Give your children a glass of water before giving them a snack. Hunger is often confused with thirst. This will not only encourage the consumption of more water, but will help to prevent overeating.
- Pack only water with lunch.
- If allowed, send your kids to school with a water bottle. If not allowed, discuss the importance of hydration on academic performance with your school’s administrators.
- Lead by example. Drink water with your meals. Don’t keep unhealthy beverages in the house, and verbalize your own need to hydrate.