As you likely know, there are many health risks associated with dehydration. Symptoms of mild dehydration include headache and constipation; while severe dehydration can cause dangerous health effects such as rapid heartbeat, fever, delirium or unconsciousness. According to the Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/risk-factors/con-20030056” infants and children are especially vulnerable, because of their relatively small body weight and high turnover of water and electrolytes.”
How does hydration affect healthy sleep?
In addition to the dangerous health risks listed above, dehydration can also have a negative effect on sleep. Dehydration can cause painful nocturnal leg cramps in the calf muscles, feet or thighs, that can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Dehydration can also cause melatonin deficiency, which can lead to insomnia.
Another important note to remember, is that if your child is getting an average of ten to twelve hours of sleep each night, (and isn’t bottle or breast-fed in the night,) they are also going that length of time without hydration. Children should begin each morning with a glass of water, to help off-set the dehydration that occurred during their sleep.
Thirst is not always a reliable sign of the onset of dehydration, especially in young children. A good indicator is the color of urine. Keep a look out for dark yellow or amber colored urine. If your child’s urine is clear, or lightly colored, it means they are well hydrated. Other warning signs are dry skin, dry or itchy mouth, and decreased urine output.
Ways to help keep your little ones hydrated this summer
Luckily there are many fun and creative ways to help keep your little ones hydrated this summer…
Get creative with homemade popsicles
Make your child homemade popsicles made out of water or diluted fruit juices and mixed fruits. There are many options for popsicle molds such as these options from Tovolo that help make hydration a fun treat for your kids.
Eat your water
Nature provides delicious, and kid pleasing fruits and vegetables, that not only provide the healthy benefits of vitamins and minerals, but will also keep your child hydrated.
Some foods to include in your child’s diet are watermelon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, colorful bell peppers and spinach ….did someone say PB and J, with a side of watermelon?
Make your own Smoothie Bar
Kids love to make smoothies. Who wouldn’t, when you can take handfuls of different colourful foods and blend them all together? Set out some fruits and vegetables from the list above, and let your little ones create their own smoothie flavours. (Parents should always control the blender.)
Tip: Yogurt or coconut water is great to add to your smoothies. When you become dehydrated, your body loses electrolytes in addition to water. Yogurt is a great source of potassium and sodium, and can help replace lost electrolytes and re-energize your body. In addition to its natural sweet flavour, coconut water is full of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, and amino acids, and is one of nature’s most refreshing beverages.
Package water for on the go
There are many options for reusable water bottles on the market these days. (Make sure to look for bottles that are BPA-free.) If you are having difficulty getting your child to drink water, look for a water bottle with a built in fruit infuser. Adding some of your child’s favourite fruit to their water can help make it more enticing.
Summer can be a challenging time for healthy sleep. In addition to outdoor stimulation your child is experiencing, your child may be going through a growth spurt. Both of these factors can make settling down at night difficult. If your child is having trouble sleeping this summer, or is having a difficult time transitioning to a new bedtime routine, check out my sleep success plans. As a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and Sleep Expert, I have worked with many families to help them find a plan that works for their individual needs.
Please let me know if you found this article helpful.
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland.