Are your kids drinking enough water? Is it really that big of a deal if they're not? The answers may surprise you.
[For the sake of this post, when I use the word child, I am referring to children as young as 2 and as old as 19.]
We all know that our bodies require a lot of water, and living without it for even just a few days can be life threatening. But the implications of even mild dehydration cannot only be serious, but it can often go unrecognized. Here are a few examples…
Does your child seem more tired than other children his/her age?
Is your child finding it more difficult of concentrate on school work?
Does your child complain about headaches or muscle weakness?
Each of the above problems can be associated with your child not drinking enough water. Your child could also suffer with an impairment of their cognitive and mental abilities as well, simply because they have become mildly dehydrated. It's a much bigger deal than parents realize.
From Health Day -- U.S. Kids Drink Too Little Water
According to the study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only 15 to 60 percent of boys and 10 to 54 percent of girls, depending on age, drink the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.
My personal experience with my own children has been that when they complain of a headache, it’s often due to not having consumed enough water. I always have them drink a glass of water and wait about 30 minutes before giving them any medication (now as teens, they just do this on their own), and at least 50% of the time their headache is relieved without the need of medication. Kids just get busy doing other stuff and they don’t even realize that it’s been 'X' amount of hours since they actually had something to drink.
The biggest problem our kids have when it comes to staying hydrated is the inability to recognizing that not all beverages are created equal. The best example of this is soda, especially when the soda also contains caffeine. This is also why it’s best to dilute your child’s juice (at least 50/50 if not more), otherwise your child needs to consume an awful lot of sugar before becoming adequately hydrated.
The study also revealed that the children who drank more plain water were also consuming fewer high-calorie foods as well, and in my book that's a huge plus.
One of the best things we can do for our children is to help them develop a love for water, and the only way that is really possible is for them to see their parents having a love for water. If this sounds like an impossible task, start off slow. Start by diluting juices, and work your way up to making fruit infused water, and then hopefully a glass of ice water will begin to feel appealing. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it is possible.
Here are some ideas for fruit infused water, basically you just add any fruit you love in any combination to a pitcher (or glass) of water.
- Slices of lemon, limes, and oranges (alone or together).
- Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and sliced strawberries (alone or together).
- Slices of apples, pears, and lemon.
- Mint (alone or with other fruits).
- Any type of melon (make into balls or slices).
- In place of ice-cubes, try using frozen fruit.
My favorite is watermelon. I just put a cube of watermelon in a tall glass of ice water, and in less than an hour the water has taken on the flavor of the watermelon. It’s delicious.
In a related (but frustrating) hydration issue:
Another thing that could be affecting your child's hydration, is a much more rigid bathroom policy in schools since we were growing up. Sounds crazy, but it's true.
You would think if your child has to use the bathroom during school they are able to, but that's often not the case. If you haven't already, actually ask your kids (and teens) about the bathroom policies at their school, you may be shocked at what they tell you.
True story: When my son was in elementary school, I had to go in and talk to the principal and insist that he be allowed to use the bathroom during lunch. It turned out that the lunch ladies had a policy not to allow the kids to use the bathrooms, so they could keep them better under control. And in junior high and high school, the kids are often limited to the amount of times they can get a pass to the bathroom. It sounds crazy, but this is the case in many schools. There are some days that my daughter goes the whole school day without drinking more than a few sips of juice, and it's because she doesn't want to have to use the bathroom. It's very frustrating, and probably going on in your school too.
Are your kids drinking enough water? Could they be suffering from the symptoms of dehydration? Do you have any tips for other mothers about helping children stay hydrated? What about ways to help decrease the amount of soda they drink? Let us know what you think in comments.
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan also blogs at Catherine-Morgan.com.
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