Staying hydrated throughout the day is essential no matter what age you are. As adults, we usually notice when we are dehydrated and will grab a drink of water. However, kids don’t always have this level of awareness, or they get distracted, which can lead to them getting dehydrated.
Kids get dehydrated much more quickly than adults, so educating them on the importance of drinking water from a young age is essential. In this blog, we’ll share some of the best ways to keep your kids well-hydrated, from understanding their hydration needs to overcoming common challenges.
How Much Water Do Children Need?
The amount of water you need can vary depending on age, activity level, and the climate. Generally, young kids need about 4-6 cups (32-48 ounces) of water daily, while older children require 6-8 cups (48-64 ounces). On hot days or during physical activities, they may need more.
For infants, breastfeeding or formula is generally enough for hydration. Consult with your pediatrician for guidance on when to introduce water.
As your kids age, they may want to quench their thirst with sugary drinks, but these are not ideal and can make them even more dehydrated. Water, milk, or fresh fruit juices are healthy ways to stay hydrated and save on dental bills down the line.
Signs of Dehydration in Children
Your child may not show any symptoms if they are mildly dehydrated, and they may not tell you they are feeling thirsty. There are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for, including:
- Dry lips or mouth
- Few or no tears when crying
- Dark urine
- Tiredness or sleeping more than usual
- Babies or toddlers may urinate less than normal
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to grab a drink of water.
Creative Tips for Keeping Kids Hydrated
Make Water Fun
Kids love fun and colorful things, so why not make water exciting? Infused water with slices of fruits like strawberries or cucumbers can make it more appealing. Use colorful and fun water bottles, or even add surprises like fruit-flavored ice cubes to make drinking water an adventure.
Offer Hydrating Foods
Water isn’t the only source of hydration. Incorporate water-rich fruits and vegetables into their diet.
Some tasty hydrating and nutrient-rich foods include:
You can also make homemade fruit popsicles or delicious smoothies, yogurt, or purees.
Consider using apps or charts to monitor your child’s water intake. You can set up a reward system for meeting hydration goals and motivating your kids to stay hydrated. Involving them in tracking their own water intake can also help them take ownership of their health.
Set an Example
Children often learn by example, and parents can be powerful role models when it comes to hydration. Ensure that you drink water regularly and involve your kids in family water-drinking habits. For example, encourage them to drink water during meals.
Overcoming Hydration Challenges
Dealing with Picky Eaters and Drinkers
If your child is a picky eater or drinker, try different strategies. Experiment with colorful and exciting cups or straws. Sometimes, letting them choose their water bottle can make a big difference. Remember, patience is key.
The Fear of Using Public Restrooms
Some kids may hesitate to drink water because they’re afraid to use public restrooms. Ensure that you teach proper hygiene practices and gradually expose them to different restroom environments to alleviate this fear.
Hydration During Sports and Outdoor Activities
Active kids may need extra hydration. Make sure to pack a water bottle when they’re playing sports or spending time outside. Encourage them to take regular water breaks so they don’t forget to drink.
Hydration During Illness
When your child is sick, they may not feel like drinking. Offer small sips of water, ice chips, or hydrating fluids like clear broth to prevent dehydration.
Pack a Hydration-Friendly School Lunch
Include a water bottle or a box of fresh fruit in your child’s school lunch to encourage hydration throughout the day.
As with all things, it takes trial and error to find the best approach for your child. If you have any questions about the best ways of keeping your child hydrated or are worried they aren’t drinking enough water, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s medical professional today.