But all that fun doesn't come without risk. Children don't always recognize signs of thirst or take the time to get a drink of water, which puts them at greater risk for dehydration—especially in hot and humid summer conditions. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that nearly 55 percent of participants ages 6 to 19 are inadequately hydrated.
Use these tips to make sure the kiddos stay healthy and hydrated all summer long.
Hydration Guidelines1 of 7
Ages 4 to 8: 7.5 cups of fluid per day
Ages 9 to 13: 10 cups of fluid per day
Girls ages 14 to 18: 10 cups of fluid per day
Boys ages 14 to 18: 14 cups of fluid per day
Foster a Culture of Hydration2 of 7
Teach your kids to get a drink of water before heading outside and immediately when coming inside. Also, make sure they have access to water at all times. Make it fun by allowing them to pick out their own water bottle, which they can fill up and take to a park, sporting event or friend's house. Nothing will encourage a kid to drink more often than his or her favorite character on a bottle.
Eat Your Water3 of 7
Nothing works up a child's appetite quite like playing outdoors. Healthy snacks with high-water content not only satisfy hunger, but also give kids an edge on hydration. Fruits that do double duty include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches and grapefruit. Add some flair by cutting shapes from watermelon slices using cookie cutters.
But it's not just fruit that packs a hydration punch. Vegetables, such as cucumbers, celery and tomatoes, are made up of lots of water. Instead of serving a vegetable tray to the backyard gang, try raw veggie skewers with grape tomatoes, cucumber pieces and hunks of feta cheese.
Freeze Pops4 of 7
What better way to cool off after playing outside than with a freeze pop? The store-bought variety, though, are often filled with sugar and lacking in nutrition.
Parents and kids can team up in the kitchen to make your own. Try using a low-sugar sports drink, such as Nuun, and adding diced fruit or fruit puree. Fresh herbs, such as basil or mint, can take the pops to the next level. Try fun combinations like a lemonade or lemon-lime flavor with fresh blueberries; orange sports drink with strawberries; and tropical with kiwi and mango.
Limit Sports Drinks5 of 7
Kids love drinking sports drinks and it can be a lot easier to convince your child to down a bottle of Gatorade before a bottle of water but they're generally loaded with sugar and calories. Sports drinks should be limited to days with strenuous activity or game days.
Eliminate Caffeine6 of 7
Drinks with caffeine such as sodas, tea and coffee are diuretics and can actually accelerate dehydration so they should be limited--if not eliminated--from children's diets during the hot summer months.