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Beating the heat with hydrating foods

In these extreme temperatures, making sure your family stays well hydrated is critically important for everyone’s safety.

It's hot out there, and it looks like this weather might stick around for a while. In these extreme temperatures, making sure your family stays well hydrated is critically important for everyone's safety.

Even if your kids aren't playing back-to-back Little League games, their bodies will lose increased amounts of fluid during regular activities just to stay cool.  Our bodies need enough water to function properly.  Not replacing the amount of water lost throughout the day can cause mild or even severe dehydration.

How can you tell if your child is becoming dehydrated?  Most children will be able to tell you if they are thirsty, and can regulate the amount of water they need just by responding to thirst. Being a watchful parent will help in cases where a child cannot tell you that fluids are needed. In cases of dehydration, a child may become dizzy, lightheaded, tired, have a rapid heartbeat, and decreased or dark urine.

So what is your hot weather hydration plan?  Nothing can beat a glass of water for children, and breast milk or formula is the best source for infants. Other beverages like milk, diluted juices, and seltzer are great options for kids. Fruit juice popsicles and sports drinks can also help hydrate, but most contain added sugar and should not be used as a primary source of hydration. Surprisingly, many foods can be an excellent source of hydration, and may prevent you from chasing your kids around with a water bottle all day.

Kid-friendly hydrating foods

  1. Watermelon. This juicy summer staple's name makes sense.  With 91 percent water content, it is as refreshing as it is hydrating.

  2. Carrots. Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but kid-friendly baby carrots are 90 percent water.  Dip them in hummus, or eat them by themselves for a nutrient-packed choice.

  3. Cantaloupe. Cut this in-season item in wedges and keep them in the refrigerator for a quick snack.  It is an excellent source of vitamin A, and 89 percent water.

  4. Broccoli. Who knew that this crunchy veggie was 89 percent water? Cold or cooked, it's a great source of vitamin C, calcium, iron, and fiber.

  5. Low-fat Yogurt. With 85 percent water, you get a satisfying snack and a serving of dairy for strong, growing bones.

Stock your fridge with these healthy hydrators, and let your kids play long into the day. Happy Heat Wave!

Beth Wallace, a registered dietitian at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has more than six years of experience in providing nutrition care for children and adolescents.

How do you keep your kids hydrated?