Children & hydration

waterOur bodies are made up of approximately 70 percent water. Water has many important functions in the body, including; regulating your body’s temperature, digesting food and excreting waste.  Your body loses water throughout the day when you sweat, breathe and urinate. It is important to replace the water you have lost to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated.

Children are at a greater risk of dehydration than adults. This is because in relation to their size, children have a larger proportion of their skin available to lose sweat and be exposed to heat. Additionally, children don’t always recognise that they’re thirsty, and if they’re not encouraged and reminded may forget to drink. Luckily, there are a few ways to tell if your child is hydrated.

How do I know if my child is hydrated?

Frequent bathroom breaks or wet nappies are the easiest way to tell if your child is hydrated. You can also look out for these common symptoms of dehydration:

  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Thirst
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Dark urine

How much water does my child need?

The amount your child needs will vary depending on their age, size and level of activity. For children under 8 years of age, at least 4-6 glasses of water is recommended. For children older than 8 years of age a minimum of 6-8 glasses is recommended.

If your child is playing sports or is very active they will need extra fluid, see our section on hydration for active kids. Kids will also need more fluid on hot days or when unwell.

Tips to help your kids stay hydrated!

  • Pack a water bottle for school and when you go out. Try a frozen water bottle in summer.
  • Encourage your child to drink water before, after and during physical activity
  • Always offer water with meals and snacks
  • Encourage your child to drink water, even if they don’t like it!

Tips for kids who don’t like water

  • Try adding slices of fruits such as lemon or orange to water, for variety and flavour.
  • Let your kids choose their own drink bottle or serve water in colourful glasses or jugs.
  • Be a role model! Make a point of drinking water with your kids.
  • Experiment with temperature; try having a jug of water in the fridge, adding ice-cubes, or even warm water in winter.

Water is the best choice to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day. Water contains no extra energy and can quench your thirst. Other fluids such as milk, juice and sweetened drinks can also contribute to your child’s fluid intake.  For more information on drink choices for your kids, check out the Drinks section of our website.