Summer bring glorious play in the outdoors, but hold on a sec. Have you ever considered the amount of water your energetic, outdoorsy child needs on hot days? Don’t let dehydration interfere with his outdoor fun!
In a study published in Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, researchers found that a 1-year-old child can suffer from heat stroke or worse when he’s left alone for 105 minutes or longer without hydration.
“Fortunately, severe dehydration is uncommon,” says Joseph H. Wandass, III, M.D., Ph.D., with St. Thomas Medical Partners. “However, when it does occur in children, it’s associated with extreme exercise in hot climates without adequate access to fluids.”
Meanwhile, mild dehydration can occur in one hour or less in hot Tennessee weather or with vigorous exercise.
One of the big problems is with younger children. “They may not recognize thirst signals since they can be very involved in playing and can become dehydrated more easily unless they’re carefully watched,” Wandass says.
“If the child is not removed from the environmental stressors, it can quickly progress from moderate to severe dehydration,” Wandass warns. “Heat-related injury can occur even without severe dehydration being present due to elevation of core body temperature,” he adds.
While the symptoms of dehydration in kids differ depending upon the age of the child, Wandass says different levels of dehydration look like this in all ages of kids:
- Mild: Child is thirsty, alert and somewhat restless. Child may also have sunken eyes, dry mouth, reduced urine output with a darker color, rapid and weak pulse, quick breathing, lack of tears and nausea. The soft spot on a baby’s head may be sunken.
- Moderate: Mild dehydration symptoms plus the child is restless, lethargic and irritable to touch. Older children can still be alert but feel faint when attempting to stand up.
- Severe: Symptoms of moderate dehydration plus the child is limp; cold; sweaty; has dark-colored extremities; muscle cramps; is lethargic or unconscious; eyes are grossly sunken; sometimes undetectable pulses.
Wandass says simple dehydration will not cause a fever. However, if the child has an environmental heat-related cause for it or an infection, an increase in body temperature can occur.
“If it is allowed to progress to severe levels, eventually the compensatory mechanisms fail leading to shock, poor blood flow to essential organs like the brain, and low blood pressure,” says Wandass.
So what can you do? Enforce periodic drinking every 20 – 30 minutes for your hard-playing kids even if they don’t complain of thirst.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends water as the preferred beverage for children and adolescents, Wandass says older children doing strenuous exercise may benefit from commercial sports drinks containing electrolytes. “This does NOT include so-called energy drinks which can be harmful,” he adds.
GET A COOL WATER BOTTLE!
You can find ways to entice your kids to drink more water. Often, a change in the bottle is all you need. Maybe you need one, too! Here are a few of our faves:
Contigo Couture 20-Ounce Water Bottle
This new THERMALOCK Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle keeps your cool drink cold for 24 hours and your hot drinks hot for 10 hours. Unlike most stainless steel water bottles, this one has a removable spout for easy cleaning and adding of ice. The lid is also tethered to the bottle so you won’t drop or lose it when going for a refill. You’ll also love the cool designs.
Contigo Snack Hero Drink & Snack Tumbler
This 2-in-1 water bottle features a truly leak-proof spout and a four-ounce snack holder cleverly stacked on top. Even when the spout is open and the bottle gets kicked over, no liquid comes out. Keep the spout clean with the spout shield that protects the mouthpiece from dirt and germs when you close it up. The straw also detaches from the lid and twists apart for easy cleaning.
Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle
This high-tech bottle definitely helps you stay hydrated because it blinks a light at you when it’s time for you to drink more water! The bottle features a sensor that’s battery operated that measures the amount of water you drink each time you take a swig. Download the accompanying app to keep track of it all! You’ll be amazed at how much (or how little) water you drink in a day.