How Much Water To Give To Children Everyday
Dr. Arbinder Singal
Pediatric Urologist, MBBS (Gold Medalist), M.Ch (AIIMS, Gold Medalist), DNB, MNAMS
- Posted On April 04, 2017
When a child returns home from school with a bottle of water which is still full to the brim, it makes a parent worry about the fluid intake of her child. Many studies show that children between the age of 9-12years do not consume enough water as per their daily needs. The average water intake seen amongst 13-18years aged kids is only about 50% of what is ideally recommended. This is an alarming situation as this can affect the health of the growing kids in the long term.
Highlighting importance of water intake in children
- Major constituent of the body: A human body consists of more than 75% of water suggesting the importance of water for functioning of body’s vital organs, disposal of byproducts of waste from different parts of the body and maintaining body temperature.
- Best nutrient for good health: It is the most integral nutrient for digestion and metabolism in the body and becomes an essential component of hydration therapy for many digestion related disorders.
- Improves cognition: Adequate intake of water during the day also improves cognitive, memory and concentration span for kids during class at school and throughout the day.
- Weight control: Drinking recommended amounts of water promotes a feeling of satiety preventing the need to munch on snacks like chips etc to keep away hunger cramps, thus helping weight control in over weight kids.
- Lubrication:Water is a natural lubricant in the body and prevents mechanical shocks and injuries to many internal body parts of the body.
Consequences of drinking less water than required
- Risk of dehydration: Water is lost from the body in the form of urine, sweat and stools and excess loss causes dehydration which should be constantly replenishedby adequate intake of water.Children are at a greater risk of getting dehydrated than adults. More than 2% loss of water according to body mass without adequate replenishment causes headaches, reduced concentration in children, fatigue, and increased crankiness in children.
- Bouts of frequent infections: If children develop a habit of drinking less water daily, there is risk of chronic mild dehydration which causes urinary tract infections, constipation and dry skin.
- Combating dehydration: Body has a natural mechanism to combat mild dehydration by showing symptoms of increased thirst and increased urination.
- Risk to kidney stones: Decreased consumption of water causes increased susceptibility to developing kidney stones.
- Frequent bed wetting in young kids: Inadequate fluid intake during the day causes evening thirst and consequently increased water intake in the evening. This can lead to a water overload on kidneys pushing the child towards bedwetting or “Nocturnal enuresis”. This is partly a result of over drinking of water in the evening after missing intake of enough fluids during the day.Hence, parents must ensure adequate spread of water intake throughout the day.
Ways to introduce enough liquids to avoid dehydration
The Natural Nutrition Council, a body in collaboration of the British Nutrition Foundation formulated hydration goals and recommendation for children.
- Daily Intake: Studies suggest drinking water throughout the day at regular intervals keeps body hydrated without any scope for dehydration. Sips of water should be considered for children who are unable to drink large quantities of water at a time.
- Fluid Dosage: For 4-8years aged children, 1.1-1.3litres of fluid per day excluding the fluid used for cooking food should be consumed. For older children between 9-13years, 1.3-1.7liters of fluid per day should be consumed. An approximation of 50ml of water per kg body weight can be used for easy calculation of daily water requirement. Extra requirement should be made for kids in sports or hot/ humid weather.
- Enough hydration with other options: Consider introducing other forms of healthy liquids like milk, buttermilk, fruit juices(without added sugar), milkshakes and smoothies in addition to plain water. This ensures fluid intake as it promotes taste and avoids dehydration.
- Fluids to avoid: Kids must avoid intake of artificial sweetened beverages, colas and caffeine rich beverages like tea and coffee as these reduce thirst sensation and cause dehydration.
- A healthy substitute: Bored of plain water, infused water can be considered as an alternative. Infused water is a combination of plain water with added herbs, spices, and lemon or fruit pieces without any addition of sugar. This can be made by keeping these herbs overnight in water.
NIL IN CALORIES, WATER IS THE HEALTHIEST NUTRIENT!!!
Take Home Message:
- Parents must ensure that their children drink enough water or fluids without explaining the importance of hydration to kids. The water intake should be spread evenly throughout the day.
- Intake of adequate fruits and juicy vegetables along with other sources of fluids and water also make a significant difference in fluid content of the body.
- 70-80% of fluids must come from water and fluids and 20-30% fluids must come from food. Parents must overcome disliking of water, drink or a particular food by introducing them a number of times in a two-week span of time.
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