Don’t wait for your kids to tell you they’re thirsty before offering them water, experts say. Instead, offer them water and other hydrating foods and beverages throughout the day, particularly in the summer when more liquids are needed to stay healthy.
By the time children are thirsty, they’re already at least 3 percent dehydrated, according to researchers from the University of Chicago.
Water does far more than quench thirst; it is a cooling mechanism, it transports fluids and nutrients, helps with digestion, helps with cognitive function and maintains a healthy weight.
The amount of water kids needs to stay hydrated and healthy may surprise you: teenagers need as much as adults (eight to 11 cups); children aged 1 to 3 should have four cups of fluids a day.
Researchers noted that water is not needed for infants under 6 months of age, and babies under 1 year can stay hydrated with breast milk or formula.
It’s particularly important though to make sure active kids are getting their fill of water.
Aside from complaints of thirst, it can be hard to tell when a child is dehydrated. Some signs could be decreased or dark urine, dizziness and lethargy.
Parents can ensure that their kids get their recommended intake of fluids with these seven tips:
1. It doesn’t have to be water – many fruits and vegetables have a very high water content. Offer watermelon, strawberries, broccoli, celery, cucumbers and other watery fruits and veggies for snacks. Make sure kids eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
2. Let your kids pick out their own drinking cups or travel bottles in their favorite colors or decorated with their favorite characters. Buy a set of bendable straws. Invest in ice cube trays that make ice in fun shapes.
3. If kids balk at drinking plain water, give it some flavor and color. Freeze berries or cranberries into ice cubes, or infuse water with fresh fruit, herbs or vegetables such as lemon, mint, watermelon or orange.
4. Make your own popsicles for a fluid-rich treat. Puree fruit or use no-sugar-added fruit juice and pour into freezer molds.
5. Make sure water is easily accessible. If young children can’t reach the sink or the water tap in your refrigerator, set up an easy-to-use water dispenser and a few cups in a place where they can reach it.
6. Invest in reusable travel bottles and keep them filled and in the fridge so you can grab them any time you head out for a walk, bike ride or car trip.
7. Create a reminder system for drinking water. This could be a chart on the refrigerator that kids can mark each time they have a serving of water, or, if you’re out and about, a timer set on your phone to remind the family that it’s time to take a drink.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.