Nutrition Articles

Help Your Kids Beat the Summer Heat

Prevent Dehydration and Heat Illness

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Prevention is the Key!
The good thing is that heat illnesses aren’t inevitable. A little prevention goes a long way:
  • Get Acclimated The first line of defense against dehydration in children is slowly getting them acclimated to the summer heat and humidity. Spending time outdoors, playing in the heat, riding bikes, running, jogging, playing ball, and doing yard work will build up their bodies to handle the heat. Allow for regular breaks and encourage them to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Drink Make sure your child drinks plenty of cool, plain water or sports drinks to stay completely hydrated. Regular breaks to drink fluids should be scheduled, even if your child is not thirsty. Regular fruit juice and soft drinks do NOT re-hydrate the body because they don't contain the right amounts of sugar and electrolytes.
  • What About Sports Drinks? Sports drinks can be used to keep your child hydrated. In fact, children will often drink more because of the taste. However NOT ALL SPORTS DRINKS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Do not be fooled by fancy packaging and wording. Check the label and select a sports drink that meets these guidelines for active children:
    • Eight ounces of a sports drink should contain at least 100 milligrams of sodium and at least 28 milligrams of potassium. It should also be non-carbonated.
How hot is too hot? 
A growing number of athletic programs are developing guidelines to determine when it is too hot to practice. In fact, many are restricting outdoor practice based on the heat index and temperature. Click here for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) guide for parents and coaches.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I don't understand really why you would want to add sports drinks as most of us grew up with just tap water. I think that's better than Gatorade. - 6/9/2015 9:03:29 PM
  • Very nicely written, thank you.

    I would add something: many drinks that aren't just water will actively dehydrate you. The article warns about drinking carbonated beverages and plain juices. Many drinks, such as apple juice and most sodas, are diuretic. Drinking a Coke or a carton of apple juice may actually dehydrate you as your kidneys allow more water into the urine.

    For the adults, beer and other alcoholic beverages do the same thing, only worse. To metabolize the alcohol, the body must use water - a lot of it.

    The article correctly points out the value of checking the electrolyte balance of sports drinks. It's certainly better to drink something rather than nothing, but there is no drink that fights dehydration quite like water. So have whatever you want, and have some water with it. - 5/26/2015 8:01:48 AM
  • I found this article very interesting and helpful. Our son has been complaining of not feeling well everytime he eats, he claims he is drinking water, but I'm thinking not enough. Thank you! - 6/23/2010 2:43:21 PM
  • Great article. - 8/26/2008 11:53:56 PM

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