Packing a Healthy Summer Fun Bag

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You’re running out the door, headed to the water park for a day full of hard play and the last thing you want to worry about is what you need pack to keep your kids healthy and happy during a long day of active play. We have some simple tips for packing a healthy summer fun bag to help you with the goal to help your kids stay hydrated, well fed with healthy snacks, and keep their skin safe this summer.

Packing a Summer Fun Bag. On the beach, 3 sets of feet.

First up hydration. Do you need a cooler filled with sports drinks? Probably not. If you can pack a water bottle for each member of the family you’re probably good. If the place you’re heading to does not have a place to refill your water bottles, you might pack a few extras. Let’s talk sports drinks for a minute. Your kids love them, right? But you’re wondering if they are really essential or if they’re just adding extra sugar? Well the short answer is…they probably aren’t necessary. Sports drinks have their place, but unless your day includes long stretches (over an hour) of vigorous activity (like long distance running, soccer, or basketball) water is sufficient to meet hydration needs. One more note; sports drinks are not energy drinks. Sports drinks provide electrolytes and carbohydrates. Energy drinks most often include large doses of sugar and caffeine. Neither of those things are going to help your kids play longer or harder. In fact, they might lead to dehydration. The bottom line is to skip the energy drinks and only pack the sports drinks if needed.

Now we’ve got fluids under control, the next concern is making sure you’ve got an arsenal of healthy snacks. Think about your kids’ preferences as well as their ages (some snacks are better for little ones and others lend themselves to older kiddos). Here are a few healthy, portable ideas:

· Grapes

· Orange slices

· Popcorn

· Raw veggies and dip/hummus

· Apple slices and peanut butter

· Cheese sticks

· Trail mixes (make your own combo with your favorite dried fruits, nuts and seeds)

· On-the-go yogurts (frozen first)

Most of our kids don’t get enough fruits and veggies in their daily diets, so adding them into their snacks is a great place to bulk up their nutrition for the day. Fruits and veggies often also have a high water content, so including them as snacks at the park will also help your kiddos stay hydrated. Also, remember to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Packing a cooler with sufficient ice (as well as keeping it closed when not accessing foods) will not only keep those drinks cool, but also keep your other snacks from spoiling. If you keep it in your fridge at home, you need to keep it cool while you’re out and about as well. Food poisoning is no fun and is preventable by keeping those snacks cold. You’ll need to reload the water and snacks before you load up each time, but these next 3 items can stay in your bag all summer long.

We can’t talk about summer outdoor activities without remembering to pack sunscreen. Apply sunscreen before you head out the door (or at least 30 minutes before you will be out in the sun). Use a generous amount when applying; most of us don’t use enough according to experts. Don’t forget to reapply at least every 2 hours; more often when swimming or sweating a lot. Hats and light colored clothing are also a must for being smart in the sun. Large umbrellas are also great for shade when you are going to be doing water activities for long periods of time.  Speaking of applying things to our skin, don’t forget the bug repellent. Avoiding bug bites and stings should be something we remember this summer as well. Pack a non-toxic repellent in your bag and apply when needed. Applying the repellent to clothing instead of the skin is a great way to get the benefits of a repellent without worrying as much about if it’s being absorbed into the skin. And if you’re really feeling prepared, remember the first aid kit. It can be as simple as a few bandages and a tube of antibacterial ointment. (If you’re feeling like super mom, a sticker or a lollipop after a scrape goes a long way!) We’ve gone over keeping those little bodies hydrated, fed with healthy snacks, and protecting their young skin.

Your Summer bag is now complete with water, snacks, sunscreen, bug repellent and a simple first aid kit. With preparation, heading out of the house can be as simple as loading the cooler and running out the door for some Summer fun!

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