Summer danger: Dehydration

Summer danger: Dehydration

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When the weather warms up, many families head outdoors. But it's harder to stay hydrated in the heat. Here's how to keep your children's summer adventures safe and fun, even when the temperature rises.

Plus: Find out how to protect your kids against other summer dangers, from dogs and bugs that bite to sun, water, and the downside of bike riding.

How children get dehydrated

Children are less likely than adults to remember to drink fluids – especially when they're having fun playing outside – so they need your help.

They're also more prone to dehydration than adults. They can become dehydrated if they drink less fluid than they lose through sweating on a hot summer day, for example.

Preventing dehydration in young babies

Newborns can't regulate their body temperature, so they get overheated easily, says Tanya Remer Altmann, a pediatrician in Westlake Village, California, and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. Offer breast milk or formula to keep them hydrated.

In general, it's not a good idea to give water to babies under age 6 months. They get all the hydration they need from breast milk or formula, even in hot weather. Not only do they not need water, but drinking water places them at risk of water intoxication (over-dilution of the bloodstream), which can cause seizures.

See how our expert answers this question: When can my baby drink water?

Preventing dehydration in children 12 months and older

Make sure kids have access to water, says Altmann, and encourage them to take a water break after an hour of playing outside.

Pediatrician Jeffrey W. Britton adds that if the water must be flavored, that's okay. He says other snacks with water in them are fine, including ice pops and snow cones, as long as you watch the total daily sugar and calorie intake.

"Most children drink water eagerly if offered. In fact, not encouraging water as the primary drink can backfire. When offered the choice between water and something sweet, many kids will choose sweet," he adds. "By using water as the primary hydration source and offering sugary drinks as an occasional treat only, parents can foster the habit of water drinking."

Watermelon makes a great snack on hot days, says Altmann: "It's chock-full of fiber, nutrients, and water."

Learn more

  • How to spot dehydration and what to do about it
  • Slide show: The best and worst drinks for thirsty kids

Watch the video: What is Dehydration? Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment. (October 2022).

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