A drink of water, that is. Is your child sluggish and irritable when she gets home from school? That groggy, “I need a nap” feeling could be a sign she needs water. Everyone knows a dry, parched throat signals dehydration. But even mild thirst, feeling tired or having a headache are signs of dehydration. That’s why it’s a good idea to drink water throughout the day, whether you’re thirsty or not.
The human body is ½-¾ water, making it an essential nutrient. It requires no digestion, only absorption. Just about every function that keeps us alive requires liquids. Our bodies lose water all the time – through waste, moisture we breathe out, sweat evaporating off our skin, even tears. We must replace fluid losses through food and drink or we’ll become dehydrated.
Kids may not have frequent opportunities to get a drink during the school day. While playing in the summer heat, they need extra fluids. Try these ideas for keeping kids hydrated, at school and at home:
- Talk to your child about grabbing a drink at the water fountain during breaks, at recess or between classes.
- Check if your school allows kids to bring bottled water to class.
- Include at least a cup of liquid in your child’s lunchbox or have him buy a drink.
- Give your child a cup of water to drink first thing in the morning, before getting ready or eating breakfast. By the time your child is ready to eat, the water will be on its way to providing hydration to start the day.
- Make sure kids drink 4-8 ounces of water before going out to play in the heat and offer water breaks frequently.
- Offer water throughout the day while children are indoors, too.
Estimates vary, but about 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated. Babies and children can become dehydrated more quickly than grownups, especially in hot weather. Keep tabs on your family’s hydration status this summer and drink to your health!
Blessings to you,
Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD