Is your child getting enough to drink? Tips on preventing dehydration

Image by Michal Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Summer is right around the corner and so are the activities that come with rising temperatures, including festivals and family vacations. While enjoying these activities, it’s easy for your child to be hit by dehydration. What is dehydration? Dehydration is the loss of body water greater than the replacement of it.

Hydration is essential for growing babies, toddlers, kids and adolescents. Children can become dehydrated for various reasons including spending too much time in the heat and losing too much liquid from their body from diarrhea or vomiting. If a child has a stomachache, he/she may refuse to drink enough water. That means when your children are sick, they are more vulnerable to losing water because they generally eat and drink less.

Healthy children who play sports or are active outdoors often lose more water through their skin. If these losses are not replaced, your child can become dehydrated. Here are a few tips you can use to help your child or teenager stay hydrated throughout this summer season.

  • Infants under 6 months of age: Continue to provide breast milk to your child, as this will give baby the nutrition needed. If your baby is formula feeding, check to make sure you are mixing the formula with the right amount of water. Do not provide free water unless indicated by pediatrician.
  • Infants 6 to 12 months: At this age, your child will rely on solid foods and water for hydration. If your child is eating solid foods, try to give food like cooked cereal, bananas or rice. Avoid foods with sugar such as sweetened cereal. If you feel your infant isn’t tolerating oral intake, you can give him or her an oral electrolyte solution (a solution that restores lost fluids and minerals), about 1 tablespoon every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Toddlers/Preschoolers: Children at this age need about 16 ounces of milk and about 2 to 5 cups of water each day (16 to 40 ounces). If you feel your child isn’t tolerating oral intake, you can give him or her sips of an oral electrolyte solution, ice chips, or a popsicle. You can even make sipping fun by having your child pick out his or her own drinking cup or use crazy straws to add to the fun. As a reminder, juice should be limited to less than 4 ounces a day.
  • School-age children: Water should be the drink of choice. Your child should be drinking at least 5 cups of water (40 ounces a day). Don’t forget to provide fruits and vegetables as these have high water content and are also good sources of hydration. Fruits like watermelon or strawberries and vegetables like cucumber or celery have some of the highest water content. If your child is vomiting, start with small amounts of oral rehydration fluid (1 teaspoon every 5 minutes) and then increase gradually as tolerated by your child.
  • Teenagers: By the time your child is 13 years old, he or she should be drinking at least 8 cups or 64 ounces a day. If your adolescent is bored of drinking water, give it some flavor or color. You can infuse water with fresh fruit such as orange or mint. Avoid drinks like soda as these drinks are linked to long-term weight gain.
  • Children who play sports: Athletes should hydrate at least one hour prior to each activity, as well as during and immediately after the activity. Sports drinks that contain high sugar should be discouraged because they can lead to more water loss from the body, causing serious dehydration. The American Academy of Pediatric recommends 5 ounces of cold tap water for a child weighting 88 pounds and 9 ounces for a teen weighing 132 pounds. For comparison, 1 ounce is about two kid-sized gulps.

When to call your pediatrician

  • Your child is not making tears when he or she cries.
  • Eyes look “sunken” or if child is an infant, the soft spot on the top of the head is “sunken” or flat.
  • If vomiting is persistent and/or has blood in it.
  • Diarrhea is not improving after 24 hours and is worsening (has blood in it).
  • Your child is under 6 months of age and is extremely fussy.
  • Your child does not urinate for 8 or more hours.
  • Your child’s urine appears dark (darker than the color of apple juice).
  • Deep, rapid breathing.
  • Weak pulses.

As a reminder, washing hands can help prevent many of the illnesses that can lead to dehydration. The best way to keep your child hydrated is to provide fluids in frequent, small amounts, especially if your child is vomiting. So as that nice weather rolls in, remember to keep your children hydrated and don’t forget to treat yourself to a glass of water as well.

– Ashima Goyal, DO, is a pediatric resident (PGY-2) at Beaumont Children’s in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Spring clean your diet

Image by Christine Sponchia, Pixabay

Spring finally arrived! Most people are familiar with the term “spring cleaning” and typically associate it with a thorough cleanse of their home. However, “spring cleaning” can apply to overall health, too. From taking walks outside to grilling lean proteins and vegetables, there are many ways to better your lifestyle. This spring I challenge you to incorporate some of the strategies listed below into your lifestyle to help better your health and overall well-being.

  • Do a deep clean of your refrigerator and pantry. Throw out any expired food, but also try to rid your home of any “trigger” foods, like candy, cookies and chips. To prevent waste, consider giving these foods to a loved one or bringing them into work as a treat.
  • Go grocery shopping and restock! Make sure a variety of healthful food options are always available. Think fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and healthy fats like nuts and seeds.
  • Start with beverages. Try to drink 64 ounces of calorie-free fluids daily. If you don’t love plain water, try using flavoring drops like Stur Liquid Water Enhancer or infuse your water with your favorite fruits.
  • Eat every three to four hours to help keep your appetite at bay and prevent eating large portions. Eat breakfast within the first two hours of waking up and space your meals accordingly.
  • Try to have at least two servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Aim for a variety of colors and get creative. Put fruits in cereal or try salads as an easy snack.
  • Reduce fried foods. Take advantage of grilling outside, think grilled chicken, kabobs and chicken sausages. If you love fried foods, treat yourself to an air fryer to reduce calories and harmful fats.
  • Swap out your grains. Replace any “white” product like rice, bread or pasta with 100 percent whole grain or whole wheat. The fiber helps keep your gut healthy and keep you full.
  • Get moving! Enjoy the fresh, warmer air and blooming flowers by taking a walk!. Try to move for at least 30 minutes each day.

– Megan Jozefowicz, RDN, is a clinical dietitian at the Beaumont Weight Control Center in Canton.

Earth Day, plastic edition

Parents, it is our responsibility to step up our game. Ugh, I know. We are all doing the best we can in so many areas of our lives. You might say, “Please don’t push me to do better.” But I am going to do just that because wherever you are in your consumption of plastic (which is actually both figurative and literal), you can do better. We must all do better.

Earth Day is the best when it’s about the kids. Kid-centered activities of recycling crafts, seed plantings, and science experiments are so much fun! But it’s about the kids in another way, too. We have to think about what type of Earth will we bestow upon our children. Do we really want to pass on an Earth that is covered in plastic? Plastic pollution is everywhere: air, soil, rivers, lakes, oceans, beaches, even in our drinking water!

China and India are no longer taking the plastic we drop into our recycling bins. It’s piling up in some communities or being sent to landfills or incinerators in others. The answer: stop using so much plastic!

We use plastic for many reasons; it’s inexpensive, lightweight, but most of all it’s convenient. However, the convenience and the savings aren’t convenient or inexpensive if we stick our children with the bill and a big mess to try to clean up. (Our kids can hardly clean their rooms!)

Enough, I say. Let’s think about how, when, and where we can avoid plastic as if our children’s future depends on it.

  • Reusable bags: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has a new member: “Refuse.” If you haven’t gotten into the habit of bringing your own reusable bags everywhere, now is a great time to start. There are endless options for bags. You can even find bags that fold up into tiny pouches that fit into a purse. Yes, bringing your bags takes planning and you have to make it part of your routine, but it’s worth it. Plastic bags are the low-hanging fruit of what we can live without.

    Don’t just stop with bags at the grocery store. Take your reusable bags to big box stores, the hardware store, even take out for restaurants. Tell them why you are bringing your own bags and refusing the plastic. (It’s for the children!) If you’re kids are like mine, they may say, “Mom, don’t embarrass me!” Do it anyway.

  • Produce bags: OK, you’re a pro at bringing your reusable bags to the grocery store. But the first thing we do in the produce aisle is pull on that big roll of plastic bags and tear one off. Instead, put your produce in your own muslin cloth or recycled bag. Also, seek out produce that isn’t pre-wrapped in plastic. You’ve already created the habit of bringing grocery bags. Just add produce bags to the routine.
  • Water bottles: It’s 2019. Disposable plastic water bottles are so last decade. Fill up your own stainless steel or glass water bottle. Not only is the plastic hugely wasteful, but water bottling companies are draining the freshwater in small towns in Michigan, Maine, and other beautiful states. If you are providing the drinks for the soccer game or birthday party, bring a large dispenser and paper or compostable cups. You can encourage others to bring their own drinking vessel, too. Collapsible stainless steel cups are fun!
  • Coffee cups: Some of us drink as much coffee as water! (Hey, we’ve all got to get through the day). Many take-out coffee cups are lined with plastic and can’t be recycled. Find yourself a ceramic coffee cup or insulated thermos. Make your coffee at home or hand your empty mug to your favorite barista. You’ll skip the waste of the stirrers and lids too!
  • Pay attention to packaging: Wherever possible (grocery store, big box store, etc.) opt for items wrapped in paperboard or cardboard rather than plastic. Notice other places you can skip the plastic, like choosing cotton swabs with paper sticks rather than ones with plastic.
  • Lunches: The European Union just passed a law to phase out the use of many single-use plastics, including cutlery, plates, straws, and Styrofoam food and drink containers to help reduce marine litter, prevent 3.4 million tons of CO2 emissions, and save about $25 billion in environmental clean-up costs.
    • Kid-friendly options abound for reusable and non-plastic lunch packaging. Try beeswax wraps (they are fabric dipped in a beeswax blend) instead of plastic wrap. Consider stainless steel bento boxes with separate compartments for each lunch item. Reusable bamboo or stainless steel cutlery comes in compact cases or cloth pouches. Find reusable lunch packaging that fits your style as well. We can’t let the kids have all the fun. It can be a great conversation starter.

If all of this is new to you, it’s not too late to take action. Start with one or more of the action items. When you’ve mastered those, add another. Some of these actions may require us to expand our comfort zones. But hasn’t much of parenthood? And what better gift could we give our children than a healthy, thriving Earth? Parents, we can do this. Happy Earth Day!

– Melissa Cooper Sargent is Beaumont Parenting Program blog contributor with a background in green living.

You’ve just gotta laugh

When I was 10, my dad made his television debut. Drumroll please… He was interviewed on the local news about what it was like to be stranded while driving through a blizzard. While my dad was at a dead stop on the Southfield Freeway, a reporter approached his 1981 black Ford Escort to talk about being stuck on the highway.

“You just gotta laugh at it,” my dad responded (at least that’s how they edited his entire interview). His 15-minutes-of-fame lasted for just a few seconds. Still, truer words could not be spoken. My dad couldn’t get to work. The freeway was a parking lot and he had no choice but to wait it out in his car on a snow-covered expressway that was temporarily turned into a parking lot. He was unavoidably stuck.

But my dad was right. You just gotta laugh at it. What else could he do? Getting upset wouldn’t prove anything and wishing his situation away would have been a waste as well.

That was a mantra that we frequently used growing up. But beyond laughing in the face of frustration or other unpleasant situations, humor plays an important role in our family.

For most parents, laughter is an incredible way to connect with a child of any age. It just sometimes gets harder as our kids get older. Seeing a baby smile for the first time is beyond magical. Toddlers are easier to amuse as are most elementary-school-age kids. Beyond those earlier years, eye rolls are so much easier to evoke than actual laughter.

With two teens and a pre-teen in our house, sharing a laugh helps keep us connected. It’s so much fun to bond over an inside joke or make a family member laugh uncontrollably.

As an added benefit, there are actual health benefits to laughing. According to various researchers, a good chuckle can possibly lower your blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels, improve your cardiac health, and increase your immunity. There is even a pair of researchers who touted an abdominal workout as one of the benefits of laughter. Imagine that: being able to skip a workout if you laugh enough!

OK, so I wouldn’t cancel my gym membership, but those are some good reasons to find more ways to laugh it up.

Parents, particularly dads, tend to rely on humor to connect with their children. There’s even a term for this phenomenon. They are called “dad jokes” – a.k.a. the kind of humor that often leads to loud groans and lots of eye rolling. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “dad jokes” likely help build stronger relationships between dads and their kids.

I spoke to a handful of local parents, including two comedians, about how and why they incorporate humor into their family lives, with each touting various benefits humor brings to their families.

One dad, a rabbi and father of five, uses humor to navigate some of the many challenges of parenting. Because discipline can be stressful for both parents and children, he finds that breaking the tension in an appropriate way is beneficial for him and his kids. Not that he doesn’t discipline. He just goes about it in a different way. So, for example, if one his kids doesn’t want to take a bath, they get stuck on the child’s refusal to get in the tub. If the dad can open his child’s mind with a little humor, it gets that child over the speed bump and willing to corporate.

How does he do it? A little bit of bathroom humor, like making a gas sound, always seems to work but he gets a lot of mileage out of tickling them too.

Family banter works well in another family, although they are careful not to cross the line and embarrass each other. And nobody gets offended because they know it’s all in good fun.

One local comedian plays improvisation games with his sons who are 12 years apart. Another way they keep things fun is by ignoring some of the rules when playing board games. This comedian’s advice: Be more spontaneous than what the rules allow and just have fun.

Other ways these families incorporate humor into their lives is by watching comedies together and capitalizing on shared experiences that are unique to their families. No matter how you chose to bring laughter in your family, remember – you just gotta laugh at it.

– Jen Lovy, Beaumont Parenting Program Volunteer

ADHD: You can survive and your kid can thrive

My posts lately have been themed around ADHD and the struggles we’ve had with it. I’m here to tell you, it’s not all bad. I promise.

We’ve seen amazing progress with medication, therapy and a 504 plan. We’re seeing more school work come home with higher and higher grades, and fewer reports of behavior problems. I’m truly about to burst with pride in the progress my son has made.

Have there been hiccups? Absolutely. But they aren’t as intense, and they are less frequent. It’s like we found the little boy we knew was in there somewhere.

I just wish we did this sooner.

When he was in preschool, I was the parent pulled aside just about every day. The teachers said not to worry, he’s just maturing. Somehow, I knew it wasn’t just a maturity thing, but they’re the experts and I listened. I don’t even know if anyone will diagnose a 4-year-old with ADHD, but that gut feeling was there.

See what I did there? Mom guilt. I’m still working on that, too. I have to tell you though, this is much easier to deal with knowing that it’s not a “bad kid” thing, or a “bad parenting” thing. Me realizing what my son’s brain is and isn’t capable of was a huge help for me. Simple things, such as me giving one direction at a time, have made an amazing impact on his frustration level and mine.

Another life saver has been setting timers. His brain, at this age and with ADHD, works in absolutes. Me saying, “We’re leaving in a few minutes,” means nothing. Me setting a timer and saying, “When the timer goes off, we’re leaving,” is an absolute. No arguing with that—and it works. Plus, I’m not the bad guy, the timer is. Win-win.

Once we started figuring this out, things got better.

I guess what I’m getting at is this: You don’t have to struggle. Much. Pediatricians, your own physician, a school counselor, teachers, principals and other parents are all there to help your child succeed. Let them help you. The support system I have with all these people in my life is the foundation for my strength as a mother. I’m not sure where I’d be without their humor, strength, confidence and non-judgmental actions. I love them all for the compassion they show my family and the shoulder they offer me.

So, there they are. The positives of ADHD. You can do this. If you are struggling and need a sounding board, reach out. We’re all in this together.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.


couple holding hands at sunset

You know I am totally kidding.

The 20 years part is right on. The bliss… well, that part is just a fantasy; a social media hashtag that captions an image that leaves the rest of us feeling like there is something missing from our marriages.

This Valentine’s Day is special for us because my husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary. And as any couple knows, we have had our share of hard moments and happy ones — times when it would feel easier to be apart and days when we couldn’t live without each other. And with four kids in the mix ranging from 16 to 6, the truth is that there just isn’t a lot of time these days for each other.

But we can’t use that as an excuse. Because, let’s be real here, who wants to walk this life with a partner we feel constantly out of step with? So while we may not be the most romantic couple, we do hold hands (in the car when we head out to do errands) and we always kiss each other goodbye. And although we don’t post it on social media, we leave cards for each other when one of us is struggling or needing a reminder that they’re loved. Instead of getaway weekends, we take turns scheduling date nights and love watching a good Netflix series together at home. We grab a coffee together in between sports pick-ups and sometimes we just supermarket shop so we can have 30 minutes alone. Nothing groundbreaking here I know, but these small and simple (key for us!) moments become the glue that keeps us connected in this busy life of ours.

And just as much as we try to make these moments of togetherness count, we also encourage each other to step out. A weekend away with a best friend, a beer out with a brother or anything in fact, that helps remind us that we aren’t just a wife, husband, mom or dad. The missing each other part has become just important as the being together part.

Over the years we’ve learned a kind of dance that seems to work for us. And when we misstep, we realign. And we keep communicating. ALL. THE. TIME. And we try not to hold grudges because who has time for that? And yes, our kids hear us argue and sometimes see us leave the house for an hour or two because we just need a break. But I’m OK with that because they are learning that a realistic marriage requires attention, negotiations and a lot of resetting.

This year, we will probably go out for dinner like we usually do for our anniversary. And if I were to post a picture of us on our anniversary, I’m pretty sure my hashtag would read something like #20yearstogether. Understated but significant nonetheless.

– Andree Palmgren, LPC, has a private practice in Westport, CT and is a mom to four kids ages 16, 14, 11 and 6.



I’m the mom of the “bad” kid and I’m done being sorry

boy with slingshot

I’m writing this with tears rolling down my face.

You see, I’m the mom of “the bad kid.”

My beautiful, funny boy has a reputation, even in first grade, and my heart is breaking. This was all triggered for me today when I got a text from his teacher. At recess he kicked and spit in the face of another kid. Apparently, the other kid said, “I hope you die,” to my son, but still, the behavior is unacceptable.

Without making excuses for my kid’s behavior, I’d like to help the majority of you understand what it’s like being the parent of “that” kid. The “bad” one.

As parents, we are trying with every ounce of strength we have.

We have therapists for kids and families, pediatricians, evaluations, 504 plans, ADHD-combined diagnosis, and meetings with school counselors, principals and teachers. We have good behavior award plans, bad choices consequences and the will to help him succeed.

It is exhausting, physically and emotionally.

My kid isn’t bad, and I’m not a bad parent.

He’s not a rotten apple, a statistic, poor sport or bully. He has a mental illness and it’s called ADHD. We are working very hard to teach him the skills he needs in life to manage his emotions appropriately and make good choices. But, as a mother who loves her son with every fiber of my being, it shatters me to think someone doesn’t see the boy I know. The boy who protects the two-year-old next door from a stray cat. He unplugs the battery on our power wheels so that same little girl can sit in it without driving out of control. He’s the first one to defend his sister and can sense when someone is sad. He is beautiful.

ADHD sucks.

Yes, it’s a real thing and yes, I believe this diagnosis. ADHD isn’t just the inability to pay attention. It’s also the inability to think things through with no concept of cause/effect. Because my son has this, he’s more prone to losing friends, being labeled the class clown and getting in trouble. Later, in his teens, he’s more likely to make dangerous decisions. Kids with impulsive issues are more likely to run into the street without looking, jump off the garage roof because it looks fun, try drugs/alcohol and drive at reckless speeds.

I tell him his brain works differently than mine. My brain is a regular car and his is a race car. We are not the same and because I’m the adult, I need to meet him where he is, wherever he is, and sometimes, he’s hard to find.

It’s easy to judge.

I get it. I really do. If another child acted toward my kid the way my son does, my inner mama bear would come out, too. It’s only natural.

But understand this: My son will apologize for any of his inappropriate behavior and there will be consequences for bad choices. However, he will never apologize for being who he is or for his diagnosis and neither will I.

Please try to understand.

After-school activities are fun. So are birthday parties, soccer games, family events, holidays and class projects.

Parenting an ADHD kid requires adjustment though, which means I can’t always commit to activities, especially after school. My kid has been trying to keep it together all day and to ask him to hold on even longer is setting him up to fail. Kids with ADHD tend to have self-esteem issues because they’re constantly being corrected. If I can give him one less opportunity to goof, I’m doing that.

Also, think about how we parents feel. Every day, we get reports on how the being we love most in the world is messing up. Every day. We’re the parents on the playground who are always having a chat with the teacher, who are always listening to the list of complaints from another parent. It takes its toll.

I’m going to put this to you straight. Yes, it’s embarrassing. But it’s also frustrating, heart breaking and I’m sick of it. He’s my son. I’m going to will him to succeed and I will be his biggest fan along the way. He was born in my heart and he’ll always have a place there. And no matter what anyone says or thinks about him, I’m only ever going to see one thing: a diamond in the rough.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.