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Healthy hydration

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Now that the “dog days of summer” are here, I’m worried about my son becoming dehydrated. Is there a recommended amount of water that children should drink daily?

There is no magic amount of water that children need to drink every day. However, relative to adults, children are often at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated, in part because they’re less effective at perspiring and also because their bodies can produce more heat during exercise.

Because kids’ bodies don’t cool down as efficiently as adults’, parents and caregivers need to encourage active children to drink often and be aware of the signs of dehydration, which include dry lips and mouth, rapid heartbeat and feeling lightheaded, dizzy or tired.

To keep your child hydrated, get him in the habit of drinking water and limit his intake of caffeinated and sugary beverages (e.g., sodas, iced tea, etc.).

Sports drinks like Gatorade are fine during intense physical activity, but water can be just as good and is lower in calories.

If you have a younger child who prefers fruit juice, try gradually diluting the juice with up to 50 percent water. For example, if he or she is drinking three or four ounces of juice a day, gradually dilute that same amount of juice to increase total fluid consumption to six or eight ounces a day.

Encourage your child to drink water with meals and snacks.

If your child attends a summer sports camp, inquire about the program’s hydration policy.

Send your child off to camp each day with plenty of fluids in break-resistant plastic bottles. In addition, teach your child to drink before he feels thirsty.

Coaches and parents should remind children to drink prior to and during prolonged physical activity.

As a guideline, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children weighing approximately 88 pounds should drink five ounces of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes, and adolescents weighing approximately 132 pounds should drink about nine ounces every 20 minutes during physical sports activities (an ounce is about two kid-sized gulps).

Pack a frozen water bottle in your child’s lunch along with water-rich fruits, such as watermelon and grapes, in a sealable plastic bag or container.

Most importantly, be a good role model — if your child sees you drinking water throughout the day, he’ll be more likely to follow your lead.

Updated 11:55 am, December 12, 2016
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