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How Much Water Should Children Drink Per Day?


Sep 5, 2023 #Water
girl-drinking-waterSchool girl drinking water.

How Much Water Should Children Drink Per Day?

As children head back to school this week, making sure they stay hydrated is vital for their health and cognition. Most schools now encourage students to have water bottles on their desks, but how much water should children be drinking each day? Let’s find out.

Why Is Drinking Water Important For Kids?

Water makes up over half of children’s body weight. It is essential for carrying out bodily functions like regulating temperature, transporting nutrients, removing waste, and lubricating joints. Dehydration can negatively impact children’s physical performance, mood, ability to concentrate, and overall health.

Children have higher water requirements compared to adults relative to their body weight. They are also less heat tolerant, meaning drinking frequent, small amounts is critical, especially in hot weather or when physically active. Since kids don’t always recognize early thirst signals, it’s important parents ensure they drink enough.

The Link Between Hydration and School Performance

Ensuring children are well hydrated is important not just for their physical health, but also for their ability to learn and focus in school. Even mild dehydration can negatively impact concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Being hydrated enhances blood flow to the brain, allowing students to think more clearly. Well-hydrated brains also experience less fatigue.

Dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, and dips in energy levels – all detrimental to learning. Research shows dehydrated students are more likely to make errors on cognitive tasks.

Interestingly, increasing water intake has been found to improve school performance on tests of visual attention, memory, and psychomotor skills as well as mood in school-age children.

Supporting hydration at school is beneficial. Allowing water bottles in class reduces bathroom breaks that disrupt lessons. Some studies have even correlated better-hydrated students with higher grades.

So ensuring children drink adequate water is an important factor in supporting their educational attainment. Keeping hydrated enhances the ability to concentrate, remember information, and perform optimally academically.

Recommended Daily Intake

The amount of water a child needs varies based on factors like age, gender, weather, and activity level. General recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority are:

– Boys and girls age 4-8 years: 1.1 – 1.3 litres/day

– Girls age 9-13 years: 1.3 – 1.5 litres/day

– Boys age 9-13 years: 1.5 – 1.7 litres/day

As a rule of thumb, children age 4-13 should drink approximately 6-8 glasses of fluid daily. Younger children need relatively smaller servings, like 150ml for a 4 year old and 250ml for an older child.

Besides drinks, foods with high water content like fruits and vegetables help meet fluid needs. Cucumber and watermelon, for example, are over 90% water.

Signs of Dehydration

Since children don’t always recognize thirst initially, look for these signs of dehydration:

– Dry lips and mouth

– Infrequent urination or dark yellow urine

– Fatigue and crankiness

– Flushed skin, headache

– Rapid heart rate

– Feeling too hot or cold

Severe dehydration requires seeing a doctor immediately. Watch for symptoms like extreme thirst, lethargy, confusion, rapid breathing, and sunken eyes.

Best Drinks To Stay Hydrated

Water is ideal for keeping children hydrated. Introduce it early so they become accustomed to the plain taste. Milk and pure fruit juice also provide fluids and nutrients, but limit juice to 150ml daily with meals, as the acidity can damage tooth enamel.

Avoid acidic, sugary drinks like soda and squash, even if sugar-free. Caffeine drinks like energy drinks aren’t recommended either.

Encouraging More Water Intake

Making water the go-to drink and modelling good hydration habits yourself helps kids stay hydrated. Some other tips include:

– Offering water with all meals and snacks

– Packing water bottles in lunches and for activities

– Adding fruit or cucumber to infuse flavor

– Letting them choose fun water bottles/cups

– Creating a reward chart for drinking water

– Limiting sugary drinks

Ensuring proper hydration is vital for children’s health, especially as they head back to school. Following these tips and recommendations can help ensure your child gets enough fluids daily.