Staying Hydrated in and out of School

By Stephanie Hodges

It is important for children to stay hydrated when at home and at school since those two places are where children spend most of their time. As a parent, you may have control over their water intake at home but what about at school and other places?

Here are several ways you can ensure your child is staying hydrated at home and away from home!


Make water the default option at mealtimes to ensure your children are drinking water at least a couple of times per day! Start their morning off with a cup or two of water with breakfast before they leave home.

Whether they attend an afterschool activity that provides a snack, or you prepare a snack when they arrive home afterschool, ensure they are drinking water with their snacks too. For dinner, make sure everyone has water to drink and to make it easy to get a refill, put a water pitcher on the table so that everyone has enough to drink!

Sports Practices and Games

When kids are physically active, they need more water to stay hydrated. If your child has a sports practice or game, ensure that water is provided, and they are hydrated. Some children may bring their own water bottles, but you should provide water in case a child doesn’t have their own water bottle or needs more water than they brought.

It is important to note that typically children do not need sports drinks after practices and games.

Children may need to replenish lost electrolytes by consuming sports drinks only if they have participated in vigorous physical activity that lasts longer than one hour, such as long-distance running, or if they have played high intensity sports like soccer, basketball or other high-intensity sports.

School Meals

If your child eats school meals or brings a meal from home, you should ensure that they are staying hydrated by drinking water during school mealtime. If your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program, they are required to have water available to students during mealtimes.

You can send a reusable water bottle with your child for them to fill up at a water fountain or hydration station. You can also work with your school to ensure they are meeting this requirement by helping set up a water cooler and providing recyclable cups.

Away from Home

Whether you are running errands, or your child is spending the night at a friend’s house, it is important that you have a plan for how they are going to stay hydrated. At restaurants and when eating out it is easy to opt for water for you and your family.

If you are going to be out for an extended amount of time, be sure to provide water. If packing for a friend’s house, pack a reusable water bottle as well so that your child has water to take with them and so that they can fill it up as needed. Encourage them to ask an adult for water, especially if they are being active!

Stephanie Hodges (MS, MPH, RDN) is the founder of The Nourished Principles, a public health and nutrition consulting business that provides services to clients to improve the nutrition and health status of individuals and populations.

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