The heat is on this summer in Florida and that can be problematic for kids who don’t stay hydrated. Patrick Mularoni, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Sports Medicine program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, answers the top 5 questions about kids and hydration.
Why is water the best drink?
Kids might think that water is a boring choice, but it’s the perfect beverage when compared to alternatives. Many people think that they need bottled water, but tap water is just fine and the good news is that it is readily available. Many kids want to drink sports drinks in the summer, but these often contain too much sugar and were formulated for athletes performing intense workouts and losing electrolytes. Even in sports, it is best to alternate sports drinks with water when hydrating on the sideline or at halftime.
Is drinking juice OK?
Think of juice as a treat. Although it comes from fruit, it is missing the important part, which is the pulp/fiber. These drinks are very high in sugar, and although many fruit juices contain vitamins and antioxidants, this benefit needs to be weighed against the extra sugar calories that are present in these drinks. The obesity epidemic is affecting one in five children, and these are often calories that kids don’t need.
What about popular energy drinks?
The answer is no for many reasons. The biggest reason is the extra sugar and all of the caffeine. Many high school age kids increase their caffeine consumption in the summer and this can become a problem when it’s time to go back to school if their body has become accustomed to caffeinated beverages. This can lead to problems with caffeine withdrawal, which includes sleep issues and headaches. It is a good idea for parents of middle and high schoolers to have a conversation about caffeine because many kids in this age group are skipping meals in exchange for energy drinks and caffeinated beverages.
How much water should my child be drinking each day?
The current recommendations are for children to drink their age in 8-ounce glasses until they reach the age of 8. For example, a 6-year old should be drinking six 8-ounce glasses per day. Children 8 and older should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This can easily be accomplished by drinking water with meals as most cups that families use are between 12 and 16 ounces.
How else can parents help their kids know if they are drinking enough water?
Many kids will find this funny at first, but teach them to look at their urine, which should be clear to straw color. If it is dark yellow or looks like apple juice, then your child is dehydrated and needs to drink more water. Early morning urine is usually the most concentrated, so kids should focus on making their urine clearer throughout the day.
For more topics in pediatric healthcare, visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Newsroom.
*Presented by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
About the Author: Dr. Mularoni specializes in sports medicine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He graduated from Michigan State University with an undergraduate degree in Biology from the Lyman Briggs College of Science. He completed Medical school at the American University of the Caribbean where he achieved honors in his third and fourth year clinical rotations at Ascension Health Hospitals in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Mularoni completed his Pediatric Residency at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan. His Fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine was completed in Atlanta, Georgia through Emory University.
While at Emory University, Dr. Mularoni completed research on procedural pain reduction in the emergency setting and was awarded the American Academy of Pediatrics Willis Wingert award for best fellow research. He has continued conducting research at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hopsital looking at best practice for procedural sedation in reduction of Pediatric forearm fractures. His current research interests include concussion management and prognosis in patients with mild traumatic brain injuries. He is the chairman of the Medical Emergency Committee.
Dr. Mularoni is married to Kim Mularoni who is a Pediatrician in St. Petersburg and together they have three children. During free time, Dr. Mularoni competes in Running, Triathlon and stand up paddle boarding races.