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Summer Tips From Nurses: Protecting Child Hydration

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated June 15, 2022
    Dehydration in children can happen faster than you think. Pediatric nurses offer four tips on keeping your kids hydrated this summer.
    Credit: Getty Images

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    Summer is full of water games, swimming, mid-day naps, and watermelon by the pool. It’s essential to monitor child hydration during the dog days as well. Even while swimming, children can become dehydrated if they aren’t drinking properly.

    “Children often get swept away with having fun and will forget to drink or eat,” says Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D., a nurse educator, freelance author, and editor.

    But getting kids to drink water can be a challenge. Pediatric nurses offer four tips on how to protect and maintain child hydration.

    1. 1

      Know Signs of Dehydration

      Identify when children are getting dehydrated. These vary with the child’s age:

      • Babies will stop having wet diapers.
      • Older children will have dark-colored, strong-smelling urine.
      • Children may also have dry lips and mouths.
    2. 2

      Encourage Children to Drink

      Most caregivers understand the challenge of getting children to drink when they’re busy playing. Christine Russo, a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner, recommends trying special water bottles or cups to encourage children to drink.

      Swirly straws or snacks with high water content can also help keep children hydrated.

    3. 3

      Fruits Can Provide Hydration Too

      Consider watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, peaches, and oranges. “Sports drinks are often filled with sugar and water. Water is the best beverage!” says Russo.

    4. 4

      Jazz Up Water with Natural Flavors

      Caregivers can also take a proactive approach and remind their children to take a drink every 30 minutes while they are out in the sun. Water is the best way to stay hydrated, but some children will drink more when you add a slice of cucumber, lemon, or watermelon to flavor their water.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Christine Russo, MSN, CPNP-PC, CPEN, TCRN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Stony Brook Childrens Hospital

    Christine Russo, MSN, CPNP-PC, CPEN, TCRN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Stony Brook Childrens Hospital

    Christine Russo discovered her love for pediatrics in the emergency department at Stony Brook University Hospital. She became a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in 2021 and works with the pediatric trauma program at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and as an NP at a local primary care office.


    Portrait of Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D.

    Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D.

    Jenna Liphart Rhoads is a nurse educator and freelance author/editor. She earned a BSN from Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing and a master’s in nursing education from Northern Illinois University. Liphart Rhoads earned a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in nursing education from Capella University. Her clinical background includes surgical-trauma adult critical care, interventional radiology procedures, and conscious sedation in adult and pediatric populations. Liphart Rhoads has taught in traditional BSN, RN-BSN, and graduate nursing programs in Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin.