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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
The Importance of Water
We ve all heard how important water is for the body, especially during
the summer months. But often parents are unsure as to how much water their
child should take in and what would be the best sources of liquid for them
We all know that water is critical in keeping out children well hydrated,
but what exactly are the functions of water?
Helps deliver oxygen and key nutrients to all the cells via the
Helps the body get rid of toxic byproducts of metabolism
Regulates the body's temperature
Lubricates muscles and joints
Provides a great pathway for viruses and germs to exit before making
the body sick
Maintains energy level and reduces tiredness
According to California nutritionist Patti Tveit Mulligan, MS, RD,
young children often become dehydrated before they even sense they are thirsty
due to their higher body-surface area and underdeveloped thirst detector
mechanisms. In summer, when children are outside doing more physical activity
and exposed to hotter and even more humid conditions, it is important that
parents make sure their little ones stay hydrated. Unfortunately, some of
the food and beverage habits that children develop increase their risk for
dehydration, asserts Ms. Mulligan. Drinking too much soda (due to the phosphate
content) and taking in too much sugar and sugary foods causes the body to
lose more fluid and can bring on dehydration sooner.
Ms. Mulligan advise drinking a minimum of six to eight glasses of
water a day for children 2 and older. However, children who participate in
sports and play outdoors need more. In hot, dry weather, the water needs
increase as well. "The best guidelines are 1/2 cup per hour while the child
is awake," commented Ms. Mulligan. Remember, one way to monitor
your child's adequate hydration is to check the color of his/her urine. A
child who is well-hydrated has light-yellow urine. A dark color indicates
the urine has to be concentrated due to dehydration.
Best way to Keep Your Child Well-Hydrated
Keep cool water handy for children. Keep a pitcher of iced water and
cups handy where children are playing, so they can help themselves. Lead
by example — children really do WATCH what parents do! Equip your children
with a water bottle when they head out for their activities.
Encourage plenty of "wet foods." Certain foods have a high water content
and can provide a great source of hydration during the summer. Oranges,
watermelon, celery, lettuce, sherbet, juice pops, asparagus, grapefruit,
grapes, cucumbers, are a good start.
Limit sodas and sugary foods. Dilute juices with 1/2 water to help
provide more water and less sugar calories.
Encourage children to drink a glass of water with their meals and
snacks. Especially encourage drinking a glass before embarking on a sports
activity and every 15 to 20 minutes throughout that activity.
Patti Tveit Mulligan, MS, RD, is the corporate nutritionist for
Herua Marketplace, Inc. (chain of natural food stores in San Diego County)
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
Please read our full disclaimer.