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Kids and Hydration - Drink up!

As a mom to 4 active boys, I have attended my fair share of baseball and lacrosse tournaments, football jamborees and cross-country meets. I cringe every time I walk past the garbage cans on the field, overflowing with sports drink and soda bottles.

Hydrating the kids is key but what you are hydrating them with is even more important!

Yesterday son #4 learned a very important lesson - always make sure the cover of your water jug is closed when you are at football practice. His was not and consequently he did not have enough water at football camp. It got me thinking, what about all those kids at camp that only had a small 12 oz bottle of water for the 2 hour camp? Or the kid that forgot his water all together in the back seat of mom’s van?

Young athletes need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can decrease a child’s strength, energy and coordination and can lead to more severe complications such as heat-related illness. Your child’s athletic performance can be affected even by mild dehydration.

Thirst is not a reliable indicator of hydration status. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already starting to be dehydrated.

Experts recommend that children and teens drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity. It is also important to drink afterwards to restore fluid lost through sweat.

As most of you know, I am not a huge fan of sports drinks - they are either loaded with sugar and chemicals and if they don’t have sugar, they are loaded with fake sugar. That being said, if your child is going to be out on the field for over 90 minutes or if the heat and humidity is very high, diluting a sports drink with water may be the way to go to provide electrolytes and additional carbohydrates. (Add one sports drink to a gallon cooler of water)

In general, a healthy snack following practice will replace any electrolytes lost during practice.

Be sure the kids drink enough during the hours prior to practice, especially now that school is out. I know with my kids, they drink more water at school than at home. The water bottle is right there in the backpack and they can easily re-fill at the water station.

Tips at home to encourage hydration can be as simple as filling up a big bottle of water and telling your child that it needs to be gone before practice. If they balk at the taste, add a splash of 100% fruit juice to the jug or purchase flavored seltzer water and see if they like that.

Have them drink a water bottle on the way to practice, before they even step on the field.

Provide snacks such as watermelon, frozen juice bars and smoothies during the day to help keep the kids hydrated and limit caffeine containing beverages that may have a diuretic effect thus encouraging dehydration.

The key is to find what works for your kid and stick with it!

To help prevent dehydration, have your child drink fluids according to the following schedule:

Before Activity: • Drink 4-8 oz of water one to two hours before activity. • Drink 4-8 oz of water 10-15 minutes before activity.

During Activity:

• Drink 5-9 oz of water or diluted sports drink every 15-20 minutes.

After Activity:

• Drink at least 24 ounces of water or diluted sports drink for every pound of weight lost within two hours after completion of activity.


Stay cool - Noreen Gallo RD

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