For you faithful Playdate readers, which I’m assured most of you are, you may recall my column on sweetened beverages last summer. Though soda may taste good, your dentist likely doesn’t want you to gargle with it. It’s best to limit your soda consumption in the summertime.
In addition to avoiding soda and sweetened beverages, what else should we know about keeping your toddler hydrated in the summer?
First, water is your friend. Water doesn’t have the excess calories of other beverages — or the potentially harmful stimulants of some sports and energy drinks. Tap water should be just fine for most people in the Valley. I can’t condone the extra expense of buying bottled water. Plus, tap water in your own water bottle is more environmentally friendly than buying bottled water. If your toddler has a discriminating palate, serve chilled or with ice.
Second, consider making a “fluid schedule” for a child. Make sure your child is well-hydrated before you go out in the heat by offering water ahead of time. Give water frequently when outside, and even more when it is hot and your young ones are sweating. And give water after the outside activity is over.
How much water should your child drink when active in the heat? Here are some examples for older kids. An 88-pound child should drink 5 ounces of cold tap water every 20 minutes when exercising in hot weather. For a 132-pound child, this should increase to 9 ounces of cold tap water every 20 minutes. Another rule of thumb: 1 ounce is about two kidsize “gulps” of water.
This is all well and good, unless you are reading this article for the first time at an outdoor sporting event and wondering if your child is dehydrated. Are you too late? What should you look for in a dehydrated child?
Let’s talk about heat exhaustion. This syndrome is characterized by headache, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, a fast heart rate and a fast breathing rate. If you are seeing these signs and symptoms in your child, it’s best to stop the activity, drink a lot of water and get to a cool environment.
But if your toddler is not overheated and well-hydrated, a sure sign is a full pull-up. In other words, toddlers who are urinating frequently show they are well-hydrated. I remember a professor in medical school who stated that happiness in the ICU is a full Foley catheter bag; if the patient’s kidneys are working, he is not in septic shock. Similarly, make sure your child is drinking plenty of water so that he or she is urinating frequently.
So, when the temperature starts to soar this summer, be sure to reach for water if you or your toddler is in need of hydration. Your body and your physician will appreciate your choice.