Today’s blog is written by Dr Emma Derbyshire, PhD, RNut, Advisor to the Natural Hydration Council. Here she provides useful tips for parents to keep their children hydrated through the summer break.
The summer holiday is upon us! With nearly two months off during the hottest time of the year, summer/sports camps are a great way for children to get outside and enjoy fresh air, learn new skills and mingle with other people outside their immediate circle.
While we all want our children to have lots of fun, it’s also important that they stay hydrated, particularly during heatwaves. The best way to ensure this? Be prepared!
So, how much should they be drinking every day? Well, according to European guidelines (EFSA 2012) children aged 4 to 8 years need just over 1 litre of fluids from drinks, whilst those aged 9 to 13 years need about 1.5 litres of fluids from drinks daily. For example, on a day camp you could pack two small (500ml) bottles of water for younger children and three 500ml bottles of water for older children in their lunchbox. If they are going away to a camp for a few days then send them with a litre or 1.5 litre water bottle in their bag.
High temperatures (and it has been hot recently!) and activity can increase water requirements, so it is important to encourage children to sip water at regular intervals and be aware of dehydration symptoms. If your child starts to feel tired, headachy or dizzy it could be that they are beginning to feel dehydrated. Also look out for heat exhaustion, hallucinations/blurring of vision, low urine output and dark yellow or brown urine. Make sure that your child is also familiar with these symptoms if they are going to be away from you.
While sports drinks may have a role to play in supporting sports performance in adults, taking part in high-intensity physical activities such as marathon running, competitive cycling or tennis for more than 1 hour (reference 2), there is currently no evidence to support their use in childhood. Water, in most instances, is the most appropriate drink to replace water that may have been lost through sport, and it is important to drink before, during and after the activity.
Here are a few tips to ensure your child stays healthy and hydrated when going to summer/sports camps during the summer holiday:
o Pack two small (500ml) bottles of water for younger children (4 to 8 years) or three bottles of water for older children (9-13 years) in their lunchbox. If they are going away to camp for a few days then pack a litre or 1.5 litre water bottle in their bag.
o Packing drinks in a cool bag will help to keep them nice and refreshing for longer.
o Water can also come from food, so encourage your child to eat plenty of fruit and salad vegetables, e.g. cucumber and celery, by putting them in their lunchbox.
o Children should be encouraged to have a drink in the morning with their breakfast and sip drinks regularly throughout the day. Water is best as it contains zero sugar, calories, preservatives or additives.
o Children taking part in sports/activities during warm weather need to replenish lost fluid by drinking water.
o Parents and supervisors should ideally be aware of the symptoms of dehydration and keep tabs on these.
Further tips about holiday hydration have been published by the Natural Hydration Council and can be found at: www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/hydration-facts/fact-sheets/
Dr Emma Derbyshire, PhD, RNut, Advisor to the Natural Hydration Council.
1. EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] (2010) EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for Water. EFSA Journal 8(3): 1459, pp48.
2. ACSM/ADA/DC (2000) Position of the American Dietetic Associations of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports & Ex 32(12): 2130-45.
This is a sponsored blog post by The Natural Hydration Council.