When your child is getting chemotherapy, you have a lot on your mind—how to get him to his appointment, who can stay with him afterward, how to cam him down, etc. You might not be thinking giving him water so he can stay hydrated.
However, hydration is very important. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, hydration is necessary for good health—it helps the body maintain its temperature, carries nutrients and oxygens to different parts of the body, lubricates joints and tissues, and is key for keeping up a healthy weight.
Unfortunately, kids with cancer are prone to dehydration, especially when undergoing treatments like chemotherapy.
If your child is having trouble keeping liquids down, or just doesn’t want to drink, here are 5 ways to help him stay hydrated.
1. Make It Yummy
When it comes to staying hydrated, water is best. But sometimes, a child just doesn’t want to drink any more water. Try making water a little more exciting—buy flavored water, or add a slice of fresh lemon.
If that’s not doing the trick, it’s okay to switch to other drinks. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that milk, juice, and tea can also help a child stay hydrated
Just be careful with caffeinated drinks—they won’t necessarily cause dehydration, but they can make a child have to urinate more frequently. And according to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), frequent urination can lead to dehydration.
2. Slow And Steady Wins The (Recovery) Race
If a child is nauseated, the thought of drinking something might make his nausea even worse.
Fortunately, water doesn’t need to be gulped down to be effective. Instead of setting a glass in front of him and telling him to drink up, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends offering small, frequent sips or having him suck on ice chips.
Build up the amount of fluids gradually—starting with 1 oz per hour, then 2 oz per hour, and so on, until he feels he can drink normally. Slow, frequent sips might make it easier for him to keep the fluids down, according to an October 2011 article from CNN.
3. Eat Water
There’s a quick and easy trick to keep up your sleeve if you have a kid who is fussing about drinking. Rather than giving her a drink, serve her some feel-better snacks that are high in water content.
4. Bottle It Up
Sometimes, the problem isn’t that a child doesn’t want to drink—it’s that he doesn’t remember to drink.
When your child goes back to school or hanging out with friends, always pack him a water bottle. Simply carrying the bottle with him might remind him to take a drink. And you will guarantee that he has a clean, healthy source of water available.
5. Solution May Be The Solution
If a child has been vomiting, she may lose sodium or potassium. In order to boost these levels back to normal, her pediatrician may recommend a rehydration solution.
In addition to rehydrating a child, and replacing the lost nutrients, the AAP notes two other benefits of rehydration solutions:
- They come in flavored liquid and popsicle-like forms so they’re more appealing to kids (and easier to take than a pill).
- The liquid or popsicle form ensures that the solution is taken in slowly, which might help her keep it down.
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