How to keep kids hydrated in summer heat

Boy drinking water from hose

With school out or ending for summer vacations, many kids are ready to spend more time outside. But it’s also starting to heat up in Central Texas.

Heat-related illnesses, which include heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can be caused by dehydration and fatigue. They can develop suddenly when the heat is high and a person’s body can’t cool down fast enough.

Heat exhaustion warning signs include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Fast, weak pulse

How can you make sure your kids stay safe at camp and sports events?

The best thing to do is schedule outside activities for the coolest times of the day – early morning or late evening. But when that’s not possible, hydration is key – both before and during outside activities.

Here are some ideas for ways to keep your kids hydrated

Offer fluids at every meal and snack

  • Choose cold water and sodium-free seltzers.
  • Avoid sodas, sports drinks or drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
    Fruit punches, sports drinks, sweetened ice teas can be a source of caffeine and sugar. Added sugar can slow down the body’s ability to absorb fluids, and caffeine can raise the heart rate and caused headaches. As for sports drinks, experts say they’re only helpful for intense activities that last more than an hour. water is a better choice.
  • It’s OK to dilute 100 percent juice, but limit it to just 6 oz a day for kids 6 and under and 12 oz a day for kids over 6.

Hydrate with snacks

close up of oranges, watermelon and kiwifruit

Kids need a healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep up with their energy levels. This is a great way to get more water into their system.

  • Fruits and vegetables are up to 90 percent water, so they’re a great way to keep kids hydrated when they won’t drink up. Offer chunks of melon, berries, sliced bell peppers or cucumbers.
  • Yogurt is also a good source of water and protein. Blend plain yogurt with fruit to keep the sugar levels low.

What do you do to keep your kids hydrated during the summer? Share with us in the comments below!


This story was updated July 2, 2012 to remove a reference to “vitamin waters” which was intended to be a generic reference to any enhanced water.