You want to make sure that your children eat right, but when you are planning their meals, you may not realize that making smart beverage choices, and making sure they drink them often enough to prevent dehydration, is essential for good health, too.

Prevent Thirst

If your child asks for a drink or complains of being thirsty, he or she could be partially dehydrated, the experts say. Dehydration can come up quickly, and can be dangerous, or even life threatening, if it is allowed to progress to a serious stage.

In addition to thirst, other signs that your child may need to drink more include crankiness, headache, aching joints or afternoon fatigue.

Fight Back

The best weapon to prevent dehydration is having your children drink water throughout the day. It is important to drink even before thirst sets in, in order to stay well hydrated. Also teach your youngsters to pay attention to their urine color. Clear or pale yellow urine is a sign of being well hydrated, while dark yellow urine means that more fluids are needed.

Smart Choices

What your child drinks can make a difference in preventing dehydration and staying well overall. Smart choices replenish the body's fluid levels and also provide nutrients that help kids thrive and grow. Here are some of the expert's drink picks for kids that can do a body well:

Water: The human body is made up mainly of water, and this beverage of choice is essential to keep all of its functions in good order.

Milk: Look for low-fat or skim options, to keep fat and calories down. In addition to supplying needed fluid for the body, milk also provides essential vitamins, nutrients and protein and builds strong bones.

Fruits and vegetables: Foods in these groups typically have high water content, along with essential nutrients, too.

Natural fruit juice: Limit your child's juice choices to only those that are free from sugar and preservatives, since sweet juices and energy drinks can be high in calories and caffeine, aren't good for their health and can also be bad for teeth, too.

Sports Drinks: Many sports drinks are packed with carbohydrate and fructose, so read labels carefully to choose ones that are 8 percent or lower and use these sparingly. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that when children get moderate exercise in normal conditions, such drinks aren't needed. However, they do recommend that when children exercise for long periods of time and/or in hot, humid conditions, they should drink 5 ounces of a drink that contains electrolytes every 15 to 20 minutes.

Follow these Guidelines

A good strategy to prevent dehydration is to have children carry a water bottle so they can drink from it throughout the course of the day. This helps remind children to take a drink regularly, even when they are busy doing other things. It is also a great way for parents to help monitor their children's fluid intake. Better yet, it is easy to refill. This is an easy way to prevent dehydration.

Danger Signs

Recognize the signs of dehydration so in an emergency, you will know to get your child medical attention immediately. Be on the lookout for the following:

  • High fever
  • Inability to form tears
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken look to eyes
  • Confusion
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Faint pulse
  • Quick breathing
  • Indented spot on head (for babies)

If you notice these or any other worrisome symptoms, give your child an electrolyte-replacement drink right away to prevent dehydration from getting worse, and also seek medical help immediately.



Alliance for a Healthier Generation

American Academy of Pediatrics

Safer Child, Inc.