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Need hydration tips for kids? You’re in the right place. As a registered dietitian, I’m sharing everything you need to know to prevent dehydration in the summer months.

Now that summer is upon us, and things are heating up, we as parents and caregivers need to be thinking more about hydration for kids. This is our job, because as much as we hope that our kids will stay hydrated on their own, often times, by the time they ask for a drink, they’re already dehydrated. In this post, I’m going to give you some practical tips and tricks to stay on top of your child’s hydration during the summer months.

How much fluid does my child need?

Your child gets fluid from the foods they eat and the liquids they drink. As they grow, their body will need more fluid each day to stay healthy!

Daily fluid guidelines based on age:

  • 1-3 years olds need about 3-4 cups
  • 4–8-year-olds need about 5 cups
  • 9–13-year-olds need about 6-7 cups

Your kiddo will certainly need more water to drink (beyond the above recommendations) during a hot summer day or when running round during summertime activities! Use your parent intuition to make sure your kiddo has access to enough water and hydrating foods throughout the day.

What are signs of dehydration?

Unfortunately, at times even the most prepared parent might forget to pack extra water or hydrating foods (Hi, it’s me!) on those hot summer days. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for if your little one is becoming dehydrated:

  • Their mouth and tongue are dry
  • They seem lethargic and cranky
  • They are not peeing as often
  • They complain of dizziness and/or feelings of nausea
  • You notice less tear production when they cry
  • You notice their heart rate seems high and their breathing is faster or more labored

If you notice one of more of these symptoms, calmly take your child indoors or to a shaded cool place and offer them some water to drink. If you have nothing for them to drink where you are, it’s time to call it a day and take them somewhere where they can have some water and a hydrating snack.

Should I offer my child sport drinks?

For the typical child, daily physical activity includes about an hour of playing at the park or participating in skill-building lessons. All they need is their water bottle and regular meals/snacks every 2-3 hours to stay fueled and hydrated. In other words, sport drinks are not necessary!

If your child is extremely active and participates in elite level sports or activities for over 2 hours a day, they will have higher nutritional needs. If this is the case for your child, they may benefit from sipping on a sports drink throughout their activities to provide them with extra energy and electrolytes (such as Gatorade or PowerAde) along side their water bottle.

Consider connecting with a pediatric dietitian who can provide you and your child with individualized recommendations around nutrition, hydration and sports performance.

What are some ways to make water fun?

  • Replace their old water bottle with a new one that has a cool design your child is into! (My kids get so excited to drink from water bottles they get to pick out!)
  • Try reusable silicone straws. They are bending and fun to drink out of, and can get your kid excited about what’s in their cup
  • Make cool ice cubes to add to their water cup. There are so many fun shaped silicone ice cube molds on the market! Or instead add frozen fruit to their water bottle instead of ice.
  • Mix some juice into their water. This adds some carbohydrate for energy, and potassium for hydration. It also adds a subtle sweet flavor that your kid is sure to love! A great option to take to the soccer field or when your kiddo is running around sweating more than usual.
  • Make fancy water. Add fizz (or “spicy water” as my kids call it) or sliced cucumber, mint, lemon/limes for an extra flavor kick.
  • Be a role model. Regularly fill and sip on your own water bottle. Your kids are likely to follow suit.

Hydrating snack ideas: