Hydration is key to your family’s health! So, Sugarbug is here to tell you a little bit about how to stay hydrated all day, every day. You might be wondering what some of the benefits of hydration are. Well, firstly, the obvious. Hydration is opposite of dehydration – which you don’t want! Water helps regulate your body temperature and it also helps protect important organs, joints and tissues. And there’s more! Water also helps your kidneys and liver remove waste products your body wants to get rid of. (1) But wait, there’s even more – water also improves your smile! How? Water washes away leftover food that cavity-causing bacteria feed on and decreases the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. (2)
How Much Water Does Your Child Need?
The amount of water your child needs depends on age, weight, and sex. In addition, activity level and overall health also affects daily water requirements. If you’re looking for a quick chart to help guide you, look no further! The chart below can help you determine how many cups of water your child or teen needs each day. The reference values have been established by the Institute of Medicine for life stage and sex. (3) Just a note, the recommendations in the chart are for total fluids. This includes, drinking water, other beverages (such as low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice), and foods that contain water such as fruits and vegetables. (4)
Another note: infants can be introduced to water at around 6 months but only need about ½ cup – 1 cup per day until they are a year old. After all, they are getting most of their fluids from the highly nutritious breastmilk or formula. (5)
How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
Dehydration can be dangerous. Dehydration occurs when children don’t drink enough water – especially during hot weather or physical activities. But did you know the most common cause of dehydration is actually severe diarrhea and vomiting? So, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of dehydration to prevent further illness. What are the signs and symptoms in infants and young children? Here’s a list:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Lack of urine or wet diapers for 6-8 hours in an infant
- Lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child
- Dry skin
- Tiredness or irritability
What should you do if your child shows signs or symptoms of dehydration? The best way to effectively treat dehydration is to replenish the lost fluids. You may reverse mild dehydration by providing water until the child’s urine is clear. To help prevent hospitalization due to dehydration, healthcare professionals recommend offering an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte to your child as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins. It may also be advised for high fever, excessive sweating, or poor fluid intake during an illness. (6)
Making Water and Fluids Part of a Child’s Daily Routine
Parents and caregivers can be good role models to help make water and fluids part of a child’s daily routine. Here are a few tips to add some fun: (5)
- Take a water break together throughout the day.
- Encourage your child to drink sips of water before they are thirsty.
- Infuse water with cucumber or mint for some added flavor.
- Make water part of family meals and have a pitcher on the table during mealtime.
- Keep fruits and vegetables that are high in water content easily accessible. Some great options include cucumber, iceberg lettuce, celery, watermelon, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
- Amuse your child with a personalized sports bottle or a decorative cup.
- Make your own popsicles with pureed fruit. Make it a family activity by using molds in fun shapes and colors.
Strawberry Puree Popsicles
Making popsicles at home provides a refreshing summer treat that will cool you down on a hot summer day. Children can help wash the strawberries and remove the stems. They can also play assistant as you blend the ingredients and they can also help pour the puree into molds. You may purchase additional molds and double or triple the recipe for extra treats.
Recipe Yields: 4 Popsicles
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup low-fat milk, soy milk or coconut milk
Make The Fruit Puree:
- Puree your two cups of strawberries with a blender.
- Pour ¼ cup of your choice of milk into each mold, followed by ¼ cup of strawberry puree.
- Put the lid on and slide the popsicle sticks into the holes provided.
- Set upright in your freezer for 5-6 hours, or until frozen.
Refreshing Mint Infused Water
- Place 4 fresh mint sprigs in a pitcher.
- Add 8 cups of water.
- Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.
- Stir well and strain before serving.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Water and healthier drinks. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html
- American Dental Association (ADA). (2021). 4 reasons water is the best beverage for your teeth. Retrieved from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/water-best-beverage
- Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2005). DRI, dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2021). Water: how much do kids need? Retrived from: https://www.eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/hydrate-right/water-go-with-the-flow
- Rethy, J. (2020). Choose water for healthy hydration. Retrieved from: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx#:~:text=To%20stay%20well%20hydrated%2C%20children,8%20cups%20for%20older%20children.
- Lenters, L. M., Das, J. K., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2013). Systematic review of strategies to increase use of oral rehydration solution at the household level. BMC public health, 13 Suppl 3(Suppl 3), S28.