Dehydration in children doesn’t only happen after running around on a hot summer day.

Keeping kids hydrated poses a few challenges. Children may not like the lack of taste in water.Also, since 2000, some schools have banned water bottles from classrooms because they could be distracting or an overlooked spill could lead to an injury from slipping and falling.

Dehydration in children can be a reality for any parents or caretakers. More than half of the children in the United States aren’t getting enough hydration. The good news is there are ways beyond drinking water to get the proper amount of liquid into your child’s body.

Symptoms of Dehydration in Children

Depending on a child’s age and sex, he or she could require anywhere from five to 11 cups of water per day. Other factors can include the air temperature, the amount of physical activity performed and humidity.

Symptoms of dehydration in children are:

  • Extremely dry mouth
  • Crying without tears
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased urination, especially if it’s been more than 12 hours since the last urination
  • Feeling weak or dizzy
  • Decreased cognitive function

Causes of Dehydration in Children

Dehydration in children doesn’t only happen after running around on a hot summer day. It can occur any time one does not replace the body water lost throughout the day. Common causes of dehydration in children include having a fever, experiencing diarrhea or vomiting and excessive urination or sweating.

Preventing Dehydration

Keeping your kids hydrated at school is what’s best for their health. Some studies also show that hydrated children perform better. Because kids are still developing physically and mentally, they often do not recognize the signs of thirst, so they need help along the way. Here are some ways to keep your kids hydrated when they’re at school or anytime they aren’t with you:

  • Start with a hydrating breakfast before school. Breakfast foods such as fruits, yogurt and oatmeal all contain high levels of water. By eating foods made up of water, your kids are getting hydrated without even drinking water.
  • Pack a flavorful drink for lunch. A water bottle in a lunch bag may make some kids cringe and want to use their allowance money to buy a soda at school. Try packing flavored water. Add slices of strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges or other fruits to a water pitcher at home and fill a reusable water bottle for your child’s lunch. If the water tastes good to your children, they may be more likely to rehydrate midday.
  • Don’t forget after-school snacks and drinks. Dehydration in children can happen quickly when they are active for extended periods of time. If your child plays sports or participates in another after-school activity, pack snacks with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers or carrots. Remember to pack an extra water bottle, too.

If you think your child may be dehydrated, visit an urgent care immediately. You can also discuss concerns about hydration or preventing dehydration in children during pediatric examinations.