“How much water should he drink?”, “I give her juice because I’m concerned about her fluid intake”, “I feel I’m always needing to remind them to drink” These are all common things we hear from the parents. Having an understanding of how much fluid your child needs is a great starting point in understanding whether you really do need to keep reminding them to drink.
Every cell, tissue and organ within the body needs the right amount of fluids to function properly. Too much
or too little can have our bodies functioning far from their best and if this turns to severe levels, can lead to death. Children can become dehydrated much quicker than adults. Not drinking fluids is
also related with constipation, something we commonly see in clinic.
For the first 4-6 months of life,breastmilk or a breastmilk equivalent (i.e. formula) provides an infant’s full
fluid needs. When foods that contain fluids are introduced, they will also contribute to overall hydration. High fluid foods include fruits, vegetables, yoghurts, pastas, rice and “wet” dishes such as casseroles and stews. Infants should not be provided with additional water beyond that of breastmilk/formula and/or food sources.
From 6 months of age it is okay to start to provide some cooled boiled water via an open cup. Most infants
won’t have the skills to consume much of this water but it’s good practice for the months ahead. Water shouldn’t be consumed in levels that would displace the intake of breastmilk or formula. Cordial, juice, milk (other than breastmilk or formula) and other beverages should not be provided.
Everyone has different hydration needs. This can vary between days with factors such as sweat, activity levels and body weight influencing requirements. Below is a guide to daily fluid requirements (from food and drinks) for children.
Age Daily requirements
1 years ¬ 1300mL
2 years ¬1500mL
6 years ¬1900mL
10 years ¬ 2400mL
14 years ¬2600mL Source: CDC, NHMRC & Stewart 20
When to give kids fluids.
There is no “right” time for children to drink (or not to drink). For busy little people, thirst might not
be the best indicator of hydration needs with many toddlers “forgetting” to drink when having too much fun.
Tips for supporting fluid intake
- Have water readily available both inside and outside of the home.
Have a water bottle in a visible location on a pram for toddlers. Encourage school aged children to take
ownership of filling their own bottle
- Place markings on an older child’s water bottle to prompt them to drink throughout the day.
Secure some tape and used a permanent marker to write “recess”, “lunch” and “home time”. This can act as visual cues to drink.
- Serve fruits and vegetables throughout the day
These are fluid rich and contribute to fluid intake
- Serve vegetables and legume-based soups
Veggies are filled with nutrients and help with hydration
- If your child is underweight or struggles to gain weight, avoid fluids before or with meals.
Offering after meals will help ensure they don’t feel full from water
If you’re concerned about your child’s fluid intake, have questions about their hydration needs or
constipation is a problem contact us for help