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  • Writer's picturechildrens wellness center

Keeping Your Kids Hydrated

Hydration is essential to your children's health, especially during hot summer days. The best choice of drink for your kids is water, as it has no calories or added sugar and it keeps the joints, bones, and teeth healthy, helps with blood circulation, and helps maintain a healthy weight. It also improves mood, memory, and attention and can prevent heat illnesses.

For babies under 6 months, they should only be drinking breast milk. As 80% of breast milk is water, your baby will get all of the fluids they need. After 6 months, they can start drinking up to 4-8 ounces of water per day as they continue to drink breast milk or formula. Between the time when they're 1 and 3, they will need about 4 cups of water per day and that water can be included in milk. 

Between the ages 4-8, kids should drink 5 cups of water per day. After 8 years of age, kids should drink 7-8 cups of water/day. Note that these are the basic guidelines and should be adjusted based on levels of activity or environmental conditions. During very hot days, for example, your child may need to consume more water. When your child is physically active or playing sports, they should also drink more water before, during, and after the activity.

Water and milk are the healthy beverages to drink every day. Children under the age of 2 do not need any sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda or juice. For older children, it's best to limit these drinks as much as possible, as they can cause unhealthy weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and other medical conditions. These beverages also contain empty calories and provide little to no nutritional value. Be careful of juices that even have the label as 100% fruit juice. While they might have some vitamins, they still have a high content of added sugar. Instead, your child should eat whole fruits that are packed with fiber.

Getting kids to drink water can be challenging for some families as some kids are bored with plain water and might prefer juice or soda. To help encourage your kids to choose water, consider infusing their water with fruits like lemons or berries to add flavor. It might also be helpful to freeze fruit into ice cubes to not only add flavor, but to decorate their glass or bottle so that their drink seems more fun. 

Have your child keep a glass or bottle of water near them throughout most of the day as it can be easy for kids to sometimes forget to drink. They are more likely to stay hydrated if they have constant access. And remember, one of the best ways to encourage your kids to prioritize hydration is to be a role model yourself. Make sure you too are drinking enough water each day.

If you suspect that your child is dehydrated, it's important to address it quickly. Signs of dehydration in babies include excessive sleepiness, less than 6 wet diapers/day, a sunken soft spot on the head, lethargy, or a lack of tears while crying. In older kids, signs include dry lips, infrequent urination or dark-colored urine, fatigue, irritability, flushed skin, headaches, lightheadedness, and rapid pulse. 

​If you have any concerns about dehydration or a heat-related illness, call our office.

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