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Have you ever stopped to think about how you stay hydrated as a child? I definitely didn’t have 10 different water bottles, one in each room and car, like my kids do today. It’s baffling to me, but regardless of ‘back then’ it’s a priority for me to help keep my kids hydrated, especially during the hot summer months.
Children in particular are at a higher risk for dehydration simply because they aren’t the best at acknowledging thirst. That’s where we come in as parents to help encourage them and make it easier for them to want to drink water or eat fruits and veggies to stay hydrated.
If you find yourself having a hard time getting your kids to drink enough water to stay hydrated, I have 9 other foods and beverages that you can lean on to help!
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We need water to help regulate our body temperature, cushion our joints, and get rid of waste in our bodies – yes, it helps with constipation! We literally need it to survive, and if we don’t have enough, it can result in serious health outcomes, even death.
And as I said before, kids are more prone to dehydration because they can’t recognize thirst as easily as adults.
Signs of dehydration in kids:
- Dry lips
- Dry skin
- Dark urine (apple juice color or darker)
|> 12 months
fluid is received through breast milk and formula
|1 – 3 years
|4 – 8 years
|9 + years
|7 – 8 cups
|exercise or hot weather
|+ 3-8 oz for every 20 minutes
Water is by far the best option for staying hydrated, but plain water isn’t always the most fun.
Sometimes you have to get creative to help them stay hydrated with water. One way you can do this is by letting them pick out their water bottle. When they get to be involved in the choices made for them, it can make a world of difference.
While water is the best choice to keep your kids hydrated this summer, it’s not the only choice.
Milk is a nutrient-dense beverage that can also hydrate your kids this summer. Heck, your kids can even enjoy chocolate milk every once and a while to keep them hydrated too.
Cow’s milk will not only help keep your kids hydrated, but it will also provide them with protein and fat to keep them fuller longer, carbohydrates for energy, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
The one downside to milk in the summer is it needs to stay cold, so it may not be as accessible while out and about in the warm weather.
Cow’s milk isn’t the only option either, you’re welcome to choose a milk alternative that works for your family.
There’s a whole aisle dedicated to ‘juices’ and if you’re not careful with what juice you pick out, you and your kids may be consuming tons of added sugar.
Juice can absolutely help hydrate your kids, but you should remember two things when it comes to juice:
- Aim for 100% juice without any added sugar
- Limit how much juice your child drinks per day
Read more here about the best juice for kids and how much you should limit per day.
Beverages are not the only way your body can get the fluid it needs to stay hydrated. Fruit is full of fluid and is a wonderful option for kids to stay hydrated during the summer months and all year long.
Did you know that watermelon is 92% water, making it the perfect hydrating fruit to eat all summer long?
Other hydrating fruits:
Maybe not as well-liked as fruit, veggies are also another great way to stay hydrated!
I like to put out a plate of fruit and veggies while I’m prepping dinner so my kids have something too munch on to tide them over and put a halt to the snack requests.
- Iceberg lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
Plain water isn’t always that fun, so a little flavor can go a long way.
I love to get flavored water boxes for my kids to have as an option to drink instead of plain water or 100% juice.
Just like juice, there are a lot of flavored water options available. I recommend avoiding varieties with added sugar or artificial sweeteners if possible.
We love the Hint water boxes and Honest juice drinks and neither have added sugar or artificial sweeteners!
Fruit Infused Water
Add a little fresh fruit, or even veggies and herbs to give plain water a little flavor.
Let your child help cut up the fruit with kid-safe knives, and plop it right into their cup. It’s pretty, tasty, and hydrating!
Fruit Ice Cubes
You can level up your ice cube game and add fruit to your ice cube trays to make a cold and refreshing beverage. Your kids will think it’s so cool!
This is also a great way to use up those berries, or any other fruit, that might be turning in the fridge.
We like using silicone ice cube trays to make it easier to pop them out once they’re frozen.
Making homemade popsicles is one of my favorite ways to help my kids stay hydrated during the hot summer months and they’re really simple to make yourself.
You can blend together any fruit (frozen, canned, or fresh) with your liquid of choice (100% juice, milk, water) and even add a little spinach or kale if you want to.
Pour it into your popsicle mold, freeze for a few hours and you have homemade popsicles with far less added sugar than what you’d buy in the store.
Smoothies help keep your kids hydrated, but they’re also a great way to jam-pack a bunch of nutrients into one drink.
When I make smoothies, I like to include three components: fiber, protein, and liquid.
Fiber: any frozen, fresh, or canned fruit or veggies, chia seeds, ground flaxseed.
Protein: nut or seed butters, greek yogurt, milk, hemp hearts, cottage cheese.
Liquid: water or milk of choice.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved and let them help you make the smoothies. They’re one of the best ways to get your kids involved and even if they don’t like the end result, touching and engaging with the ingredients is extremely valuable.
Try this delicious pineapple spinach smoothie – you can’t even taste the spinach!
Sports Drinks for Kids
My kids have definitely enjoyed a Gatorade here and there, but it’s not something they drink regularly, nor is it something I give to them to hydrate them.
Sports drinks have what we call a health halo effect meaning sports beverages like Gatorade and Powerade are marketed as healthier than they really are.
Don’t get me wrong, sports drinks absolutely have a purpose, but it’s a pretty specific purpose and most kids just don’t need them.
Sports drinks really only need to be consumed if participating in high-intensity exercise or in hot and humid weather for an hour or more.
The intention of sports beverages is to replenish carbohydrates (aka sugar), fluid, and electrolytes (sodium and potassium).
So if your child isn’t exercising or in hot weather for more than an hour where they would need to replenish and rehydrate, sports drinks are really unnecessary and act more like any other sugar-sweetened beverage.
At the end of the day, it’s okay for your child to enjoy a sports drink here and there, but water, milk, fruits, and veggies should take priority over sports drinks for kids.
What About Carbonated Water?
Most kids I’ve watched take a swig of carbonated water usually react with: “That’s spicy!”
Obviously, it’s not spicy, but the carbonation creates a unique experience in their mouth, making it feel like it’s spicy.
If your child enjoys a can of ice-cold La Croix, or whatever carbonated water you buy, go for it, but it will probably start to get pretty spendy if that’s their main source of fluid.
Carbonated water for kids can be a great option.
Two things to keep in mind with carbonated water for kids is the carbonation can be harmful to the enamel on their teeth.
The second thing to be mindful of is added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Opt for carbonated water without these added ingredients if possible.
At the end of the day, all your child needs to stay hydrated is plain water.
If your child doesn’t enjoy plain water, there are several other options to keep them hydrated throughout the warm summer months.
- 100% fruit juice
- Flavored water
- Fruit infused water
- Fruit ice cubes
Sports drinks for kids really aren’t necessary unless they’re exercising or in hot weather for 60 minutes plus.
Carbonated water is also an option, but should be used minimally due to the impact it has on our teeth.