Children sweat less than adults which makes it harder for them to cool off. But how much should they be drinking exactly? It’s important to know, as kids are more susceptible to heat illness than adults when active in hot, humid conditions.
Even BEFORE they exercise, the U.S. Soccer Federation recommends checking your child’s urine – if the color is dark, apple-juice color, they need more fluid. Even slight dehydration can compromise performance and increase the risk for heat-related illness.
Here is a helpful guidelines adapted from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association:
1 Hour Before Activity:
Kids < 90 lbs. need 3-6 oz. of fluid
Kids > 90 lbs. 6-12 oz. of fluid
During activity, every 20 minutes:
Kids < 90 lbs. need 3-5 oz. of fluid
Kids > 90 lbs. need 6-9 oz. of fluid
After activity, to replace fluids lost through sweat:
Kids < 90 lbs. need up to 8 oz. of fluid, per 1/2 lb. lost
Kids > 90 lbs. need up to 12 oz. of fluid, per 1/2 lb. lost
This brings up the point made well by SafeKids Upstate: Weigh your children before and after practice to see if they’re drinking enough to replace the fluid they lost through sweat.
What is the best fluid for kids to drink during activity? Some research shows that young athletes will drink 90% more of a sport drink compared to water, and therefore stay better hydrated. Also, fluids with salt (sodium chloride) such as sports drinks increase thirst and maintain voluntary fluid intake as well as replace sodium lost through sweat.
Click on the chart below from the National Safe Kids Campaign to better understand how much kids should do in any given combination of high heat and humidity.
While attending sports camps, dress kids in light-colored loose clothing. And where numerous games take place throughout the day, SafeKids says to make sure children will be getting enough time to rest, drink fluids and take time in the shade.