These Do's and Don'ts will help your kids your kids stay healthy while they're playing sports.

Do have your child eat a pre-game meal 2-3 hours before game time, rich in carbs (cereal, pasta, etc). Don't eat right before a competition. A full tummy + physical activity + heat = cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Do prevent dehydration. Have your child drink 8-12 oz. of water before a game and 4-8 oz. at regular intervals throughout the game. Sports drinks may be high in sugar and should be diluted by half with water. Don't let them drink sugar-loaded, caffeinated and carbonated drinks. A child should not wait until thirsty to drink.

Do recognize the signs of dehydration: dry mouth, weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, rapid breathing, fast and/or weakened pulse, and/or no urination for 6 hours. Don't wait to treat dehydration; it can be life threatening.

Do have your child follow a warm-up routine. Don't let them forget to stretch.

Do have your child wear the proper safety equipment and ensure it fits your child properly. Don't buy equipment that is too big, thinking "they'll grow into it."

Do have your child wear sunscreen. Don't forget to put sunscreen on their heads if their hair is extremely short.

Do help the coach(es) exert their authority to call games due to extreme heat. Don't wait to remove your child if you think they need it.

Do remember that you know your child best. Don't hesitate to call us if your child is having an exercise related problem - we can help!

For more information on sports and kids health, please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site:

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Smita Parikh Mengers, MD, FAAP

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