Parks, zoos, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping and picnics are all activities that we love to do with our kids and that create great memories, but the last thing we want is for those memories to be tainted by headaches, dry mouths, constipation and dizziness that go along with dehydration.
Keeping Your Child Hydrated
Infants and toddlers can be hard to keep hydrated during hot days out of doors. Here are some tips for keeping your child hydrated all day long.
Infants and Toddlers Need a Higher Percentage of Water Than Adults
When our children are born they have a higher water content in their body than adults do. That ratio decreases as they finish growing and begin aging, but the extreme need for flexibility in their bodies requires them to use more water in their system. Their skin has to stretch at amazing rates as they grow - it isn't uncommon for an infant to double their body size in the first six months of their life!
Infants also have an increased need for hydration due to spitting up and extremely soft stools. Most infants can stay perfectly hydrated on breastmilk or formula, but if you notice your infant sweating a lot from the heat, or if the stress of a changed routine is causing more liquid stools and more frequent spitting up, you will want to either increase how much milk your infant is drinking or try a bottle of luke warm water between feedings.
While we simply need water to maintain our systems, children need water for maintenance AND growth.
Putting our children into physically strenuous situations that require extra sweat and effort means that they need even more fluids, but how do you convince a cranky 18 month old to drink enough to stay sufficiently hydrated? Here are a few tips on how to optimize what fluids your child intakes for the best hydration, and how to convince them to drink more!
Avoid Sugar and Caffeine
No, sugars do not dehydrate you, but sugars do require the body to use water to process them. Sugary drinks are better than nothing, but if your baby is using more water than usual then you will need to hydrate them more thoroughly than on a regular day in the air conditioning. Juices and sodas are not effective in making this happen.
Caffeine seems like a no-brainer, since we are talking about toddlers and infants, but you'd be surprised at what things contain caffeine. Why does it matter? Caffeine, like sugar, requires water for the body to process. It also raises blood pressure and heart rate, meaning that your baby will be burning off more calories and fluids even faster.
Common children's drinks that contain caffeine:
- Chocolate Milk
- Sweet Tea (Higher caffeine content than Mountain Dew!)
- Cola (Pepsi and Coke)
Instead, try a few of these drink ideas:
Lemon water - water with a splash of lemon juice concentrate. Kids love sour, and they love anything that doesn't taste like water. This is high in antioxidants and vitamins.
Vitamin water - much less sugar than juice or soda, but still sweet enough for kids to enjoy.
Decaf sweet tea with stevia - Stevia is natural and healthy, but will cut back on how much sugar your child's body has to process.
Use a Cup or Bottle That They Are Familiar With
Make sure that whatever container you use to provide fluids to your child is familiar to them and something that they are sure to get plenty out of. Trying a new sippee or bottle isn't a good idea on a day when you need your little one to be guzzling extra fluids.
Try a sippee with a straw- make sure to purchase it a week ahead of time so that you can be confident in it, but a straw allows a lot more fluid intake than a traditional sippee that requires the baby to work for every sip. If you can get your child comfortable with a straw sippee cup then they will be able to drink a lot more, a lot faster.
Keep Your Baby Cool
The warmer your baby, the more she will sweat. Make sure to keep her head covered so that she isn't exposed to direct sunlight. Dress her in cool, loose clothing and keep a misting bottle on hand so that you can mist her skin with cool water if she seems to be getting too warm.
A cool, hydrated baby is a happy baby. Enjoy your summer and have a lot of fun! Make memories that will last and treasure your moment!