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Kids and Dehydration

You know how cranky your child can get when she's hungry, right? Well, a new Tufts University study has found that being dehydrated may also cause her mood to tank--even if it's just a mild case of thirst. And that's not the only thing you need to know:

It can also slightly impair cognitive function, says lead researcher Kristen D'Anci, Ph.D. With all the running around your child will be doing in the heat of summer, that's an added reason to make sure she takes frequent water breaks. If left to their own devices, kids tend to drink only when they're really thirsty, and dehydration can set in well before that point. There's no official amount of H2O that kids need, but if your child is kicking it up outsi de (whether she's playing sports or just playing), she should stop and have at least a few good swallows of water every 15 to 20 minutes, according to Joel Brenner, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics in Norfolk, VA.

And, yes, plain water is fine. "Flavored waters and sports drinks are popular for their taste, but they don't necessarily hydrate any better and some are high in calories and sugar," he notes. (You should offer a combo of water and a sports drink, however, if your kid is exercising for more than an hour.) If your child balks at the straight-from-the-tap stuff, fancify it: Add natural sweetness by squeezing a wedge of orange or even a strawberry into her water bottle.