Hydration Tips for Summer

0 Months-5 Years

Rain or shine, inside or outside, kids need lots of fluids, but it all depends on their age, gender, weight, activity level and how humid it is outside. Here are some quick tidbits about hydration and water intake based on your child’s stage of life.

Birth to 6 months

If your little one is less than 6 months old, hold off on the water for now. At this stage, all your baby needs is breastmilk or iron-fortified formula. That’s right, no water, even if it’s hot outside. The reason? Water is too much work on baby’s kidneys. It could also fill him up too much, which means he might drink less breastmilk or formula than he needs to grow and develop.

To avoid dehydration—especially in these summer months—dress baby in breathable fabric (such as 100 percent cotton) and skip the blankets. Lastly, stick to the shade with an umbrella or another shady spot to sit under. You might also want to consider purchasing a handheld fan with an attached water bottle to spray cool mist on your baby.

Tip: Pay attention to your baby’s wet diapers. Are there fewer wet diapers, or is there less urine than usual? Is he constipated? These signs could mean he needs more fluids. 

If you have any concerns, ask your pediatrician.

6 to 12 months

Once your baby has started solid foods, it’s OK to offer her a few sips of water here and there. Just remember, breastmilk or iron-fortified formula will still continue to provide most of baby’s nutrition. Giving her small amounts of water between bottle feedings or with meals will help keep baby hydrated and can help prevent constipation.

Another thing to remember is to avoid offering your baby juice. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says not to give juice before age 1 because it can lead to problems such as poor nutrition and increased risk of tooth decay, diarrhea, gas and bloating. Instead of giving your baby fruit juice, offer whole fruits. Not only does the fiber in whole fruits help keep baby regular, but many fruits (and veggies) naturally have a lot of water in them, including watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries.

Tip: Pay attention to your baby’s wet diapers. Are there fewer wet diapers, or is there less urine than usual? Is she constipated? These signs could mean she needs more fluids.

If you have any concerns, ask your pediatrician.

Toddlers and preschoolers

For toddlers and preschoolers, water is the king of all the drinks! As a rule of thumb, children 1 to 3 years should have about 5 to 6 cups a day, and 4- to 8-year-olds should have about 7 cups a day. As for milk, your little one doesn’t need any more than 2 cups a day because drinking too much can fill him up, leaving less room in his tummy for healthy foods at mealtimes. Other drinks, such as sports drinks, juice and soda, are loaded with sugar your child doesn’t need. Instead of offering fruit juices and drinks, stick to whole fruits. Whole fruits are loaded with fiber to help keep your child regular, and many fruits naturally have a lot of water in them that can help with hydration.

Offer water regularly, especially in the heat, and let your child drink as much as he wants. Kids this age will naturally drink the amount their body needs, so don’t feel as though you need to push him to drink when he doesn’t want to.

Tip: Pay attention to your child’s urine. If it’s pale yellow, he’s doing just fine! If it’s bright yellow, he probably needs more water.

What if your child is dehydrated?

Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor if you are worried about dehydration. Her doctor may recommend a pediatric electrolyte replacement, but note that sport drinks should be avoided. In fact, sports drinks and juice can actually make your child’s symptoms (such as diarrhea) worse, because they don’t have the right electrolytes or nutrients your child needs to regain her proper hydration levels.