Drinking enough water and staying hydrated are essential things in a kid’s life. Experts typically recommend that children aged 4-8 drink five cups of water daily, while those aged 9-13 should drink between five and six cups.
The benefits of proper hydration in kids range from transporting nutrients throughout the body to regulating body temperature to flushing out toxins and even improving skin complexion. On top of that, studies have shown that proper hydration can enhance cognitive performance in school-aged children as well as reduce fatigue and headaches.
This article will provide helpful information about how much water kids should drink, the main benefits of doing so, and what types of drinks can constitute a great alternative to plain water.
1. The Benefits of Proper Hydration in Kids
First of all, water is a great source of essential minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are vital for kids’ growth and development.
Helping kids maintain a healthy body temperature is another crucial benefit of staying hydrated. This is even more important when they have a fever or when they are exposed to extreme climate. Parents should make sure their kids frequently drink water during meals, after playing sports, or any activity that causes sweating, when outside on hot days for long periods, and whenever they feel thirsty.
Studies have also demonstrated that adequate water intake can improve cognitive performance. For example, researchers at the University of Illinois found that drinking water can help children focus more effectively and improve their ability to multitask.
Other benefits of regularly drinking water include maintaining a healthy weight and reducing their risk of kidney stones, constipation, or urinary tract infections.
2. Factors Affecting Hydration Needs in Kids
Many factors can affect your children’s exact hydration needs, and they should all be taken into account when deciding how much water a child should be drinking. Age, size, activity level, climate and temperature, health status, diet and food choices, medications, and lifestyle all play a fundamental role in this decision.
- infants have different hydration needs than older children due to their smaller size;
- active children need more water than sedentary kids;
- those living in hot climates may need a higher daily consumption than those living in colder areas.
Furthermore, kids with certain health issues or those taking medications may require additional fluid intake. Diets that are higher in sugary drinks or processed foods can also increase the amount of fluids needed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes how ethnicity and socioeconomic status can impact the daily consumption of water in kids, with children belonging to minorities or with a poorer economic background drinking less water daily than the recommended intake.
3. What’s the Right Amount of Water for Kids?
Generally speaking, children should consume approximately one to two cups per day for every 20 pounds of body weight.
However, certain activities may require them to drink even more; for example, when exercising or playing sports in hot weather, they may need to increase their water intake to replenish the fluids they have lost through sweat.
For children with special needs, such as those who are ill or malnourished, it is essential to receive additional hydration to help their bodies function properly. In these cases, parents should consult their doctor on what the appropriate daily water intake should be.
Keep in mind that children can also get a significant amount of hydration from other beverages, such as milk and juice. However, it is recommended that water remains the primary source of hydration for kids if possible.
4. What Can You Do to Encourage Kids to Drink More Water?
Encouraging kids to drink more water can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can do to make it more fun and interesting.
One of the easiest ways is to introduce them to infused water. This involves adding fruits, herbs, or vegetables to the water, which gives it a unique and more exciting taste. This is also an opportunity for them to experiment and create their own personalised drinks by combining different flavors. After exposing them to different flavors, like lemon, cucumber or strawberry, and mint, you can get an idea of which type of infused water your kids like the most, which can help boost their daily consumption.
You can also encourage kids by teaching them about the benefits of drinking water, such as improved energy levels, better digestion, improved focus, and better skin health. There are many free videos online available that are designed specifically for children. They explain in detail why regular consumption of water is crucial to boost health and improve overall well-being.
You should also set an example for your children by making sure that you’re regularly having a glass of water throughout the day in order for them to follow suit. Another great idea is to provide your kids with water bottles that are colorful and attractive so that they’re motivated to take them with them wherever they go.
Finally, make drinking more water into a game, such as having competitions between family members who can drink the most glasses in one day.
5. The Risk of Dehydration in Kids
Dehydration can have substantial negative effects on children’s health.
First of all, it can lead to a wide range of short-term problems, such as decreased concentration, confusion, poor cognitive performance, headaches, dizziness, and irritability. In the long term, dehydration can cause kidney stones and other urinary tract infections, constipation, heat stroke, exhaustion, and in severe cases, even coma or death.
This shows how important it is for children to stay hydrated throughout the day and why parents should be aware of the recommended daily water intake for kids.
In addition to increasing their daily consumption of fluids through water, parents should encourage their children to increase their intake of other hydrating liquids, such as milk and juice, as well as foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables. Encouraging regular physical activity and a healthy diet, as well as reducing the use of sugary drinks, can also be extremely helpful in preventing dehydration.