Whether it’s summer or winter, if your child engages in heavy physical activity, it’s good to educate yourself about the warning signs of dehydration. Young athletes are especially vulnerable to depleting their fluid stores in sports and other activities — and the results can be disastrous, especially if the signs are not noticed early.

As a loving parent, you could help prevent a serious dehydration issue for your child. So, to help you learn more about the process of fluid loss; dehydration in youth athletics; and how you can encourage and maintain proper hydration, here’s a look at the basics of sports hydration for kids.

How Does Dehydration Happen?

When young athletes are active — especially but not only in hot weather — they’re constantly losing fluids, through sweating and breathing. If those fluids aren’t replenished by drinking before, during and after sports, your child can easily become dehydrated. While being low on fluids might not seem like a big deal, even a tiny percentage of dehydration, such as 2%, can lower athletic performance and increase the risk of injuries.

How Can You Help Your Child Stay Hydrated?

This infographic was created by Axio Athletic, a provider of custom baseball uniforms

The best way to prevent dehydration and its accompanying side effects is to make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids — before, during and after any game, workout or other physical activity. You can pack a water bottle for school and keep fluids on hand for activities, for example. Likewise, you’ll want to pay special attention to how and when your child is drinking. Here are some basic amounts to keep in mind:

  • How much per day: Ideally, athletes should drink about one half or one whole ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Another general principle that can help most people is to the Rule of Eight: Drink a big glass of water eight times a day.
  • Before activity: The hours before a game or practice are the ideal time to up your child’s water intake, so provide plenty of fluids during this time.
  • During activity: While playing or training, young athletes should shoot for four to six big gulps of water three to four times each hour.
  • After activity: Replenish your child’s water supply after a game or workout by providing 24 ounces of water per pound of water weight lost during activity.

One question many parents ask is about the type of fluids: Is water better, or should you focus on electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks? Typically, if a young person is active for a solid hour or less, water will be sufficient; if activity goes beyond that; is especially intense; will be in high-humidity situations; or causes excessive sweating, shoot for a drink with at least 110mg of sodium per eight-ounce serving.

What Are the Warning Signs?

Taking the above steps to keep your kids hydrated can go a long way toward helping them stay safe on the court or field — but another important step is to understand the warning signs of dehydration and what to do about them. If you notice your child is exhibiting any of the following, it’s time to rest and drink fluids:

  • Major thirst
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased performance

If after resting and drinking water these symptoms don’t improve, it could be a more serious level of dehydration and require medical care. More advanced signs of dehydration include dry lips and mouth, irritability, dark urine, decreased reaction time, decreased performance, and disorientation. Stay alert to notice if your child is showing any of these symptoms and act quickly to stop activity, require rest and provide fluids.

What Are the Benefits of Proper Hydration?

  • Better muscle function
  • Less muscle fatigue
  • Better blood flow and circulation
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of injury

If you’re interested in finding more information on how to keep your kids hydrated, take a look at the accompanying resource, by Axio Athletic. It details fast facts about fluid loss, signs of dehydration, benefits of staying hydrated, a sample hydration schedule and more.

Also See: Childhood Obesity: What Parents Need To KnowActionable Tips For Organizing A Successful Sporting Event For Kids