Our family walks frequently, even during the summer months. It is essential that everyone stay energized, hydrated and cool during a walk. Dehydration and fatigue is common in the summertime, and can be especially dangerous for children. A walk should not be tiring to the kids, but refreshing. It should be a form of exercise, but also a form of enjoyment, relaxation and entertainment. Bearing that in mind, there are things one can do to avoid common problems that may arise in children during a walk.
Dress For the Sunny Weather
Wearing appropriate clothing for the temperature will help keep the kids cool, as well as relaxed during a summer walk. Thin, all-natural fibers, such as cotton, are the best for hot weather. Sun protection clothing is also a good idea. Sunscreen should be worn on all unprotected skin areas. Sun hats should also be worn. An alternative to sun hats is applying sunscreen to the hair and scalp.
Wear Shoes Appropriate for Walking
Any kids or babies who will not be riding in a stroller need to have on comfortable shoes. Yes, kids are more lightweight than adults, but that doesn't mean their feet can't get tired from holding them up. Good walking shoes should be lightweight, durable, have shock absorption, and provide ample cushioning and support.
Bring Plenty of Water on Summer Walks
We happened to live in Texas for four years, where it is blazing hot during the summer. Now we're in Denver, where it can be hot and dry. Even for those in less scorching climates, water is an essential part of a summertime walk with the kids. Water gives energy and keeps everyone cool and hydrated. There should be at least one water bottle per person - more for longer walks.
Snack on Nuts & Fruits as Needed
Nuts and fruits are a great source of energy. Combined with the water, this type of snack will keep kids and parents walking with energy. You don't want everyone getting too tired to return home. Plus, many kids love nuts and fruits, so this is a win-win situation. Apples and grapes are great for this. If the walk is long, you may want to opt for dried fruits (such as banana chips), rather than fresh ones.
Cool Off With A Mister to Avoid Overheating
I like to bring along spray bottles equipped with a misting nozzle. Filling them with lukewarm water beforehand keeps everyone cool on the extremely hot days. We simply spray each other at certain intervals. It can also be made into a fun game. Do NOT fill the bottles with cold water. If someone is too hot or suffering from heat exhaustion, cold water is a bad idea. It can put a person into shock. Kids especially are vulnerable to this.
Use Clip-On Mini Fans for Hot Walks
Clip-on mini fans also are a great idea for summer walks with the kids. Give each person their own. They can clip it onto the stroller or clothing when not in use. For babies inside the stroller, clip the fan out of reach of the baby at an angle where it will keep them cool.
Play Fun Games While Walking
Playing games with the kids such as "I Spy" can help keep the kids entertained and less focused on how long the walk is. Also try pointing out interesting things along the way (plants, animals, people, etc). Bring a camera and some pocket notebooks and pencils. Allow the kids to take pictures and write down things they observe. My kids like to do the above, as well as play trivia. Think about things the kids have recently learned and form questions surrounding that. Allow kids to come up with their own questions for each other as well. Just be creative and have fun. You can even sing silly songs. Basically, you want to make the walk fun, not a chore.
*Note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. Always consult a physician before starting or stopping any physical activity.
**I originally published this on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
(I slightly edited the text to be current with info.)