Because of their higher metabolisms, kids get hotter than adults. And they get dehydrated more quickly. In the high heat of late summer, that has consequences ranging from fatigue to heat stroke. Drinking plenty is the solution, but most kids don't want to drink if they're not thirsty. "By the time thirst kicks in, kids are already dehydrated," says Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and editor of Baby and Child Health. In fact, one study found that 59 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls were very dehydrated by the last day of a four-day soccer camp, despite encouragement to drink water and sports drinks.
"Many children are so busy playing, they can forget to drink," says Roberta Anding, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It's up to parents to make breaks part of any outdoor game. Kids should drink an extra glass of water before the start of any physical activity. Once the games begin, ensure a drink break at least every 30 minutes. Groovy water bottles like Nestle's Aquapods keep them sipping; when we set out Aquapods for both a soccer and a T-ball team, kids clamored to try them.
Kids aren't just losing water. They're also sweating out essential electrolytes like sodium and potassium. "You want to give them something that mimics the concentration of electrolytes the body already has," says Shu. Load them up with electrolyte solutions like Capri Sun sports juice boxes. Juicy foods such as watermelon, grapes, and orange slices also help.
Teach kids to notice the color of their pee. "Urine should be clear or light yellow," says Shu. If it's dark yellow or brown, have them drink.