With common sense and the right supervision, you can remove any risk from playing outside when it’s hot. You want what’s best for your child, so it makes sense that you would want to protect him or her from the elements like hot weather. But it’s important to remember thathuman bodies are made for playing outside—especially little human bodies. Playing outside during hot weather is absolutely normal and harmless if you take the right precautions.
The biggest key to successful playtime during hot weather is hydration. Your child should be taking regular sips of water before, during and after their outside activities. Many parents get frustrated when they see their child only taking a small sip of water, but this is actually cause for celebration. You see, routine sips of water are better for the body than infrequent gulps are. They keep your hydration level steady, which is especially important when you’re sweating and losing water through heat and play. To encourage your child to take regular sips of water during playtime, there are several things you can try:
- Keep a graduated container like a Nalgene bottle nearby to measure how much water your child is drinking. You’ll want to monitor the water levels using the numbers on the side of the bottle. This will take the guesswork out of hydration; you will never wonder again how much water your child has had to drink. Now you will know for certain.
- Schedule frequent water breaks. Remember, consistency is key. How frequently depends on your discretion, but a good rule of thumb is every 15 to 30 minutes.
- Reward your child for drinking water—and not just when it’s hot outside. Healthy water habits will carry over on all days and even
when you’re not around to supervise.
- Create a game out of drinking water to encourage a positive association with this action and to add a little fun into what could be viewed as a chore to a child who would probably rather be playing.
If your child remains well hydrated, he or she will be equipped to play in any outdoor activity during hot weather, even high-energy activities that involve a lot of running or movement, but for extra hydration, you can try:
- Packing snacks that are high in water content, like peaches, berries and watermelon
- Electrolytes like salt and potassium are commonly lost during times when we sweat, like while we are playing in hot weather. Pack an electrolyte-replacing beverage for break time, but only one—you don’t want to load anyone up with extra sugar, especially when it’s hot.
- You may also want to integrate water-play into your routine when it’s hot outside. Spend time in the sprinkler, spray each other with the garden hose, or set out a kiddie pool. Developing an all-around healthy relationship with water will benefit your child no matter what the weather.
Outside play during hot weather does not have to be off limits for kids. With the proper levels of hydration and a little supervision from parents and caregivers, your child can enjoy all the activities under the sun.