Disney Park Parenting: Keeping Your Kids Hydrated

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A 2013 CDC study noted that 43% of American adults drink less than 4 cups of water per day (including 7% of American adults who don’t drink any water in a day). As adults, we know that it is important to stay hydrated, and yet we often don’t–including when we’re on vacation. For kids, knowing the importance of hydration probably isn’t on their radar, and they may not be able to know when they need to hydrate. In Florida, even at times other than the hot and humid summer, hydration is very important. It is even more important when you are physically active, like walking miles per day around Walt Disney World.

Some signs of early dehydration in kids can include things like irritability and tiredness, which are common among kids (and adults) at Walt Disney World regardless of hydration levels. How do you help your child stay hydrated at Walt Disney World? Here’s some tips.

  • Take time for hydration every hour or more often if you’re very active. Even if your child doesn’t claim to be thirsty, take time out to have a couple sips of a drink frequently–maybe a sip after every couple of attractions, or at least once an hour.
  • If your child hasn’t asked to use the restroom for more than three hours, they probably need something to drink. Hydration helps our bodies by continuously moving fluids through. If your child doesn’t need to use the restroom within a three-hour period, it is likely because they are dehydrated.
  • Play a game of “find the water fountain”. Make hydrating a game–kids love scavenger hunts, and playing “find the water fountain” can be a great way to get them excited to hydrate. First person to find it gets to use the water fountain first!
  • If your child is not a fan of drinking water, get a cup of ice and let them chew on ice cubes. Ice is still water, and although drinking water is the best way to ensure proper hydration, every little bit helps, even if it is taken in as ice cubes.
  • Watch for changes in appearance and behavior. Dehydration can come on suddenly. Signs of dehydration can include a dry or sticky mouth, dry skin, dizziness, drowsiness, irritability, or eyes that look sunken. Also keep an eye open for the signs of overheating with your child. Because children are lower to the ground, they often overheat faster when walking on hot pavement.
  • If your child says they are thirsty, make getting a drink a priority. Contrary to popular thought, being thirsty is not an early sign of dehydration. By the time you register that you’re thirsty, your body is waving a warning flag about dehydration. Encourage your child to take a few sips of water, even if they don’t feel “that thirsty”.
  • Water is best, but Powerade and fruit juice are alternatives at Walt Disney World. On the other hand, soda can further dehydrate a child.
  • Need to use snack credits? Look for watermelon cups–some kids may enjoy eating they hydrating watermelon more than drinking a glass of water.
  • Bring your own water bottle for kids who may have trouble drinking from water fountains and so they can drink water on the go.
  • Ask for cups of water at quick-service locations if your child doesn’t like the water from water fountains. Not everyone likes the taste of Florida’s water, and so if your child refuses to drink from water fountains at Walt Disney World, getting a cup of filtered water at a quick-service location is a great (and free) option.
  • Monitor your child closely if they become ill with something that causes vomiting or diarrhea. Kids can pick up all sorts of illnesses on vacation, and sometimes the foods they eat may not agree with them. If your child comes down with a 24 hour bug or a “I ate way too many Mickey Bars” case of diarrhea, monitor their fluid intake closely, as these conditions can easily cause severe dehydration.

What other tips do you have for helping your kids stay hydrated at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments.

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

8 thoughts on “Disney Park Parenting: Keeping Your Kids Hydrated

  • October 2, 2019 at 5:37 pm
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    It’s not only water; if you have a small kid they will probably need more frequent snacks at Disney as they can’t take enough food in three meals to keep up with the rate at which they are burning the calories.

    One great thing about Disney is that they will allow you to bring snacks and drinks into the lines. When our kids were little, we brought sealable straw cups and a small backpack cooler bag. Snacking and drinking while waiting in line was a great way to pass the time and we got a lot more done between rope drop and naptime when we weren’t stopping to buy and consume snacks and drinks as a separate activity.

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  • October 2, 2019 at 9:33 pm
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    Great advice. I bribed my kids to keep drinking by offering a juice box for every 2 bottles of water.

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  • October 3, 2019 at 9:04 am
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    This is a very good article. Keeping kids hydrated helps them have fun and stay calm.
    I always bought a special Disney themed water bottle from my local stores. It saved money and the kids loved a new Disney water bottle “from Disneyworld”. One time I found a water bottle that held small snacks as well. They would drink more water and stay hydrated.

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  • October 3, 2019 at 11:49 am
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    One note of clarification, I have read from multiple sources that while water, juice, or sports drinks are preferred, drinking soda, tea, and coffee are also better than nothing and will not dehydrate you if that’s all you have available, even when adjusting for the diuretic effect of caffeine. Alcohol is the only beverage that does not increase overall hydration.

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    • October 3, 2019 at 12:14 pm
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      In case you want to get down in the weeds on the science about soda following dehydration, here’s a fun study to read about the issue, specifically regarding the sugars in sodas.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27053647

      For what it’s worth, I frequently alternate between iced tea (unsweetened) and water for hydration, and that does work well for me. Not sure how many kids would be tea drinkers, but if they are — go for it!

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      • October 3, 2019 at 2:23 pm
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        Thanks for the link! That’s a good point about rehydration. Sounds like if you’re drinking soda along the way it will help keep you hydrated but better not to drink once you are already dehydrated.

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  • October 3, 2019 at 1:41 pm
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    Is there a list anywhere of Refillable Bottle Stations within the parks? Specifically WDW

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  • October 14, 2019 at 6:27 am
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    The rule of thumb is to drink equal parts of water to every caffeinated beverage. I am a NP & this is what I advise my patients.
    Great post – thanks!

    Reply

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