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Summer will be here and gone before we know it! In those hot summer months, hydration is a major priority, especially for children.

Many children and adults don't recognize when their body feels thirsty and interprets it as hunger instead. In order to stay hydrated this summer, make sure everyone in your house is drinking when they are thirsty, getting enough to drink, and making the right drink choices.

Drink When You're Thirsty

Many people mistake thirst for hunger, which could lead to overeating and weight gain.  In order to avoid these things, offer drinks often.  Each of my kids has a water bottle that we keep in door of the refrigerator.  This way, when they come in from playing outside there is always a cold drink waiting for them.  When kids say, "I'm hungry," it may be helpful to offer water first. You can offer water to kids while you are getting a snack or lunch ready.  This way if they are thirsty instead of hungry, their thirst will be quenched before they start eating.

Get Enough to Drink

Since our bodies are mostly water, kids need to get plenty to drink throughout the day. The exact amount of water that each person needs depends on their size, activity level and several other factors. However, it is safe to say that most people don't drink enough water. It's hard to drink too much water and the effects of over-hydration are generally less severe than the effects of dehydration. It is recommended that kids ages 9 and older drink 8 – 8oz cups of water each day. In total, that is almost 2 liters!  For younger children, the recommendation is about 1 liter of water per day.

Make the Right Drink Choices

We have all heard that it is important to "get plenty of fluids." This is true, but all fluids are not equal. Water is the best choice for hydration. Drinks make it easy to gulp down calories quickly; however, our bodies don't feel as full or satisfied as we would if we ate the same amount of calories. This can lead to unintended weight gain. Drinks like juice, milk and soda should not be used in place of water for hydration. Even sports drinks should be used sparingly.  Sports drinks replace water, glucose and electrolytes lost through sweat, but unless a child is continuously active for a long period of time and loses a lot of fluids through sweat, sports drinks are not necessary.

While you and your family are out enjoying these warm summer months, remember to drink water to stay hydrated!


Audra Losey MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Audra Losey is a wife and mom of two young children. She is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion and dual bachelor degrees in Exercise Science and Dietetics. Audra is employed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Education Program teaching limited resource families in Douglas and Sarpy counties about healthy eating on a budget. She's especially interested in teaching kids about food and physical activity, and connect ...

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Categories: nutrition, health-notes,