Summer solstice has arrived, and so has increased risk of dehydration. How can we keep little ones, teens, ourselves, and even Fido swimming along through intense heat? And how much water does everyone really need to stay hydrated?
Most adult males and females need around 101 and 68 ounces, respectively, of hydration from beverages–ideally from just water, assuming they are also getting around 20% of remaining hydration needs met from food. When it comes to children and adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests these guidelines as a good approximation:
– 6 months = introduction of water, ½ – 1 cup (4-8 ounces) daily as formula and/or breastmilk still form the primary hydration source
– 1-3 year olds = 4 cups (32 ounces) daily of mostly or only water and milk
– 4-8 year olds = 5 cups (40 ounces) daily of mostly or only water and milk
– Older and onward = 7-8 cups (56-64 ounces) daily of mostly or only water and milk
Of course, amounts may vary by the individual due to additional factors like altitude, heat, humidity, illness, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and fitness.
With increased activity, even more water is needed. Pediatrician Dr. Janine Rethy advises, “When exercising vigorously or sweating, children from 9-12 years of age generally need to drink about 3–8 ounces of water every 20 minutes to stay hydrated. Teens need to drink about 34–50 ounces per hour. It is helpful to stay well hydrated in the days and hours before activity begins…If vigorous exercise extends beyond 1 hour in a day or your child is sweating a lot, electrolyte-supplemented beverages may be necessary.”
Paying attention to hydration not only aids important functions like digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation, it improves mental focus. And what parent doesn’t want more of that in the heat of summer?
Here are some tricks and tips to keep all of us cool (and hydrated) as a cucumber:
– Explain why it’s so important to sip. Discovery Place Science has a wonderful “Being Me” exhibit that illustrates how much our bodies depend on water. Sometimes understanding “the why” helps more than constant reminders.
– Look out for #1 by checking #1. This easy, practical approach works for the youngest to the oldest. Be aware of overly dry diapers, and check urine color, aiming for clear to very light yellow.
– Quench your thirst with water-rich snacks. Satisfy salty and crunchy cravings with options like broccoli florets, baby carrots, cucumber slices, or celery sticks paired with peanut butter, hummus, or tzatziki. Or go sweeter with grape tomatoes and grapefruit segments. Puree and freeze fruit about to turn with some water and yogurt in reusable tubes (also ways to reduce waste).
– Banish water boredom. Enjoy a flavored seltzer on occasion, or freeze some berries inside ice cubes to add a little fun to your cup. Select a reusable water bottle that motivates you like the HydroMate. An aluminum thermal tumbler of ice water can also keep you perked up throughout the day versus endless cups of coffee. Help children select bottles that showcase their personalities in favorite colors that are easy to fill like the wide-mouthed, straw-free Bubba brand. Keep a few in the fridge already filled.
Watermelon Margarita Pops
I don’t like to waste or store the other half of a sizable watermelon. The solution? Puree chunks with some lime zest and juice. Sweeten with strawberries and local honey. Watermelon is vitamin C and A rich and an even better source than tomatoes for the antioxidant lycopene. Add a little salt if desired to give it margarita flare. Skip alcohol for kid-friendly pops, or add some + sparkling water for an adult beverage.
3 cups chopped seedless watermelon (about half of a small melon)
1 cup strawberries
2 limes (zest of 1, juice of both)
1 ½ teaspoons honey
Optional: ¼ teaspoon salt
Blend all ingredients together.
Use a funnel to fill popsicle molds. Freeze. Run molds under warm water to loosen once frozen.
If making a cocktail with the extra 1 cup of puree, add desired amount of vodka or tequila. Then, top off with sparkling water.
YIELD: 8 popsicles plus 1 cup puree for a cocktail
NOTE: Allow about 4-6 hours for pops to freeze.