Hydrating with water is crucial for our health and it’s important that both adults and children consume enough fluids to meet their daily hydration needs. Due to their physiology, children are at greater risk of dehydration than adults. However, children don’t always recognise thirst and if they aren’t reminded, they may forget to hydrate.
In this blog post, we share simple ways to help your child to meet their hydration needs.
Know how much they need
The amount of water a child needs depends on a range of factors including their age, gender, physical activity levels, and the weather.
Children should be having 6-8 glasses of fluid per day, with older children needing larger servings. As a rule-of-thumb, guidelines from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) say that you should be encouraging your child to drink the following amounts:
|Age (years)||Amount (litres/day)|
|14 +||Same as adult requirements (i.e. 2-2.5)|
This guidance assumes that 70-80% of the water in the diet comes from drinks, with the remainder being obtained from food.
As well as encouraging your child to drink more water, try to incorporate hydrating foods into their diet. Suitable suggestions include soups and stews, milk and yoghurt, and fruits and vegetables such as melon, strawberries, cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Don’t wait for them to get thirsty
Encouraging children to have a regular drink is important as they may not remember to do so on their own. Young children have lower heat tolerance than adults and they are also less sensitive to thirst. Therefore, by the time that some children recognise their thirst, they may already be dehydrated. Offer water regularly throughout the day, especially when your child is physically active or the weather is warmer.
Have water readily available
As well as actively encouraging your children to drink water, consider making it easily accessible to them in your home. If they are unable to reach the tap you could set up a jug or water dispenser with some cups in a place where they are able to help themselves.
Always pack a water filter bottle in their bag for school or other activities, as well as on long journeys. Using a ceramic water filter helps to retain naturally occurring minerals within the water that other water filters can remove. Removing these naturally occurring minerals can lead to over purification of your tap, meaning that your child could miss out on these all-important nutrients.
Lead by example
Demonstrate to your children the importance of drinking water by acting as a role model. It’s important to drink water with them at mealtimes and also ensure that they see you drinking water throughout the day so that they consider this to be a normal, healthy habit.
Many children arrive at school under-hydrated, so make special efforts to ensure that you always have a drink with breakfast as a family. You can also help your children understand the importance of drinking by teaching them about hydration.
Make hydration fun!
While all drinks contribute towards fluid intake, sugary drinks like fruit juice and soft drinks contain free sugars, which are associated with weight gain and tooth decay in children. Water is the best choice for hydration as it contains no added sugar.
You can also make water more interesting by adding fruits, veggies or herbs. Some ideas include frozen berries, lemon, fresh mint, or cucumber slices.
To make drinking more exciting, try providing a special cup that has their favourite colour or cartoon character on it, use crazy (non-plastic) straws or ice trays that make cubes in fun shapes.
If your children aren’t keen on the taste of water, using a ceramic water filter system will reduce the added chlorine in tap water; improving the taste and odour whilst retaining the naturally occurring minerals which are important for overall health and give water its great taste.