Water Intake Overview
Water is crucial to your child for both physical and emotional health. They are also much more likely to perform better academically (well hydrated kids have double the interest in learning) and in sports if they are well hydrated. Water needs to be replenished in your child's body because it is constantly being lost in urine, faeces, sweat and in exhaled breath.
Your child's main hydration will come from drinking fluids and also from the food they eat. Encourage your child to drink water from an early age rather than fruit juices or worse still fizzy sugary drinks. If your child will not drink water then milk is another option or very dilute non-sugary fruit drinks. Avoid fruit juices where possible. Fresh fruit (or vegetables) are far better options for getting vitamins and minerals inside your child.
Children sweat much more in hotter weather so obviously need to take on more water. Always make sure your child has access to lots of water when they are in the sun and especially when exercising. See our other articles on 'SUN AND HEAT SAFETY' and 'ACUTE OVEREXERTION'.
Encourage your child to drink water regularly throughout the day when at home or at school. If at school, make sure they take a bottle of water and ask them to top it up regularly. Children often don't think about drinking until they are thirsty but this is too late. The aim is to instil a habit of not getting thirsty. Maybe buy them a cool bottle that is easily cleanable so they want to take it everywhere. Once your child is old enough to understand, educate them in the advantages of drinking lots of water.
Monitor your child's urine colour. A well hydrated child 's urine should be virtually colourless except immediately after food. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration. Also some children complain of headaches when they get dehydrated too as well as general tiredness. Severe dehydration can be a medical emergency which can result in rapid breathing, severe headaches and thirst and possible sunken eyes, fever or deliriousness. This is life threatening.
Recommendation Child Beverage Intake
Children are recommended to drink between 4 cups and 11 cups daily depending on age and whether they are a boy or girl. A cup is approximately 1/4 of a litre so 4 cups is 1 litre.
See our resources links below for a handy table guide to see how much fluid your child needs.
It is imperative that children drink plenty of fluids throughout the day every day. It is critical to their health, growth and overall well-being. Training them early to get used to non-sweetened drinks is a good move and giving them a cleanable water bottle for school is very important to aid their ability to concentrate and perform well both academically and in sports.
This Australian based website shows recommended fluid intakes for teenagers. It recommends water intakes for males and females in the age ranges 9-13 and 14-18. It also highlights the benefits of hitting these targets too.
The Water Quality & Health Council is a United States based organisation. This leaflet shows clearly the number of cups per day of fluids recommended for children of all ages.