Kids and sports. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Each new season brings new sports for lots of kids. As a mom with kids who play sports, I am very interested in making sure my kids have the nutrition they need to perform at their best. I was doing a little research this week and came across a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I found lots of great articles there which really got me thinking. One particular article Sports Nutrition for Busy Families and Busy Lifestyles really caught my attention. There was a discussion in the middle of the article about having a hydration plan for your young athletes. Hydration plan? My plan is to make sure they have some water when they say they are thirsty. That’s enough right? Maybe not according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Do You Have a Hydration Plan for Your Child Athlete?
Before practices and games: The article I found at healthychildren.org suggests having a hydration plan for before, during, and after physical activity. I know that I am guilty of racing in the door after work and shouting for my children to put on their uniforms as I toss their gear into the car. Hydration is often the last thing on my mind. I’m just trying to get the kids to their games and practices on time. The struggle is real. Your kids should be drinking plenty of water all day and when they are heading off to practice they should be drinking an additional 6-8 ounces. Who knew? Start the kids drinking while you are on the car ride. Think about taking a couple of water bottles with you rather than just one for the game.
During practices and games: Per the American Academy of Pediatrics article, kids should have “a small amount of fluid (3-4 ounces) every 15 minutes.” Water is fine in most situations. If your child is exercising in extremely hot weather or for more than an hour, sports drinks with electrolytes are a good idea. As you know, I do not like artificial colors and other artificial ingredients. That being said, when my little guy is playing football in weather where the field temperature is over 90 degrees, I give him sports drinks. I want the beverage to taste good and I want him drinking lots of it for proper hydration. Dehydration is my bigger worry in this situation. I also do my best to avoid warm water. I purchase larger water containers that I can pack lots of ice in to keep the water cool. We also pack water bottles in coolers to keep them cool for long days. Nobody likes warm water and I noticed my kids avoiding drinking anything when their only option is warm water bottle drinks.
After practices and games: We all know it’ to replenish lost fluids after practice. Just make sure that you aren’t packing on lots of extra calories and bad ingredients by drinking soda, energy drinks, and other drinks full of questionable chemicals. Keep in mind that energy drinks are NOT sports drinks. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, sugar, and questionable ingredients. Stimulant containing energy drinks are not intended for children. If your kids want something “tasty” as my son says, try chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is a perfect recovery drink which will help restore fatigued muscles. Check out my real food chocolate syrup recipe and avoid processed food ingredients. We make up a batch of the chocolate syrup and keep it in the refrigerator so that it is easy to grab and quick to make one glass at a time.
As we head into another season of sports, I think this serves as a great reminder that we should pay attention to our young athletes’ hydration. Make sure your kids get plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. What are your thoughts on hydration for young athletes? What are some of the things you see parents giving their athletes to drink? Have you ever seen a child suffer because they were not properly hydrated?
Some of our favorite hydration supplies for sports.