Hydration for kids in Summer

Summer has finally arrived here in Australia, which means there’s no better time to learn all about hydration for your children.

Young children don’t seem to mind operating at full speed in warmer temperatures. This is something we need to watch out for as kids tend to become dehydrated faster than adults.

In this article, our dietitians from The Biting Truth have shared how to keep your kids hydrated all summer long.

Why is proper hydration so important?

It will come as no surprise that staying hydrated is important, especially when you consider the fact that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water. Making sure your child is getting enough fluid can help with:

  • regulating body temperature
  • moving nutrients from food throughout the body
  • digestion, absorption, and excretion of food
  • maintaining electrolyte balance in the body (this helps make sure muscles and nerves function properly)
  • maintaining blood composition and transporting oxygen throughout the body
  • preventing constipation (keeps things moving!)

How much fluid do kids need?

This depends on a number of factors such as gender, age, how active they are and the conditions you’re living in. Your child will also require extra fluid if they have a fever or are experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting.

Here are some average daily requirements for different ages to give you an idea:

Infants aged 0-6 months 0.7 litres (from breast milk or formula)
Infants aged 7-12 months 0.8 litres (from breast milk, formula, food, plain water and other beverages)
Girls and boys aged 1-3 years 1 litre (about 4 cups)
Girls and boys aged 4-8 years 1.2 litres (about 5 cups)
Boys aged 9-13 years 1.6 litres (about 6 cups)
Girls aged 9-13 years 1.4 litres (about 5-6 cups)
Boys aged 14-18 years 1.9 litres (about 7-8 cups)
Girls aged 14-18 years 1.6 litres (about 6 cups)

Water in food

While drinking water is of course the best way for kids to meet their requirements, it’s not the only way!

Did you know that about 20% of the water you need comes from food? Fruits and vegetables have a water content of about 70-90%! Ensuring your child is eating plenty of these foods may help relieve the stress of meeting their fluid requirements, especially if you find it challenging to get them to drink water.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Young children and babies are at greater risk of becoming dehydrated than adults. Even mild dehydration of around 1-2% fluid loss can begin to affect your child’s physical and mental performance. Because of this, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration in kids and to respond quickly when your child displays them.

Mild dehydration:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Feeling dizzy or light headed
  • Feeling tired
  • Dark yellow or brown urine
  • Less toileting compared to normal
  • Dry mouth, lips, eyes or throat

Severe dehydration:

  • Pale skin, sunken eyes
  • Feeling cold, especially hands & feet
  • Extremely thirsty
  • Lethargic, irritable
  • Drowsy, confused

If your child is showing signs of severe dehydration, you should seek medical attention. Dehydration in babies and toddlers can come on quickly and, in severe cases, can be fatal. If you suspect your child is suffering the above symptoms, seek urgent medical help from the hospital.

Tips to keep children hydrated

  • One of the simplest things you can do is to make water available for your child throughout the day, either in a sippy cup, cup or water bottle.
  • Remember that you are your child’s biggest role model, so be sure that you are constantly sipping on water throughout the day.
  • Try adding a visual cue to your child’s cup or water bottle, such as a rubber band or hair tie, and encourage your child to drink down to the mark.
  • Offer hydrating fruits and veggies regularly throughout the day.
  • There are many ways to offer water: iced, in a cup, with a straw. Trial different ways and serve it to your child in their preferred form where possible.

Thanks for reading!

Anna & Alex

The Biting Truth

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