Young children do not have a do not have a trustworthy thirst mechanism. At their age, the signs that they may indicate of being thirsty may not be how their status of hydration really is. They may also sense thirst as hunger. And, even if they do reach for something to drink, they may be looking for unhealthy water alternatives. As parents may not be around them all the time, they are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated. There are simple ways to address this problem, however. One is to encourage your child to bring one of the best water bottles to school.
You can also offer them water and other hydrating foods as well as beverages throughout the day, particularly during the hot season when the body needs more fluid replacement to stay healthy and mentally and physically alert.
Don’t wait until your child is thirsty. By that time they may already be at least 2-3 percent dehydrated. Note that the body continuously uses water to provide oxygen for the brain and the lungs, act as a lubricant to the joints, help the body in releasing wastes through perspiration, urination, and defecation, and to do all other body functions. That is the reason why everyone, especially those who are constantly engaging in an intense activity or have special health conditions, to drink water regularly throughout the day. This ensures that you remain properly hydrated and be at your best any time.
Water, water, water everywhere
Water is literally in every part of the body. Every child who has been to school or watches the television are exposed to info materials that explain how the body uses water. Most children understands that a huge part of the body (about 60% or more in the case of younger children) is made of water. The organs, even the bones, veins, and the blood are made of water. Without water, the body won’t function as it is made to. It will be impossible for one to breathe, to think, even move. Without water, it will be impossible for the body to transport fluids and nutrients throughout the other parts of the body. Cognitive functions as well as maintaining a healthy body will likewise be impossible.
How much does a child need to drink?
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) recommends drinking mostly water as it the only liquid that anyone can consume without calories. As for the amount of water that your child may drink, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) sets a new requirement for every child in different age categories as specified below:
- Boys and girls aged 4 to 8 years are required to drink about 1.1-1.3 liters of fluid every day;
- Girls aged 9 to 13 years are required to drink about 3-1.5 liters of fluid every day;
- Boys 9 to 13 years are required to drink about 5-1.7 liters of fluid every day.
It is equally important that kids who are always active to replenish lost body fluids regularly.
Hydration should start even before your child starts the day at school. Make sure that your child takes a healthy breakfast before he or she goes to school as this will provide supplemental hydration for the child. You may also need to teach your child to drink every 20 minutes, to ensure that your child gets enough fill of water continuously throughout the day.
It will also be best to encourage your child to drink more water than other unhealthy water alternatives. Explain to them how sweetened sodas, iced tea, as well as other fruit-flavored packed drinks can do to the body. Tell them that sugar-coated and caffeinated drinks will make them more dehydrated instead of otherwise. These drinks add will increase the risk of gaining weight and acquiring health conditions like heart disease, gout, and type 2 diabetes. They will need to learn to drink even before they get thirsty. This will ensure that they are properly hydrated.
As it can be a bit difficult to tell whether the child just needs water to top up or if he or she is already dehydrated. Some symptoms of dehydration that should not be neglected are irritability, headache, dark urine, increased thirst, sunken eyes, less perspiration, and less elastic skin.
Here are some ways that you can do to get your child the recommended intake of fluids and stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Include fruits and vegetables that are high in water content in your child’s meals and snacks. Offer watermelon, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, strawberries, and other watery fruits and vegetables for snacks and even in the main meals. This will ensure that your child will get additional hydration from other nutritious water-based food sources.
- Make drinking fun. Let your kids choose their own reusable water bottles, drinking cups, or mugs in their favorite colors or designed with their favorite characters. You may also include a set of interestingly-designed straws and ice cube trays as these will make sipping more fun and engaging for the young child.
- Give water some flavor and color. Use frozen berries or cranberries as ice cubes. You may also squeeze into your child’s water bottle with fresh fruit, herbs or vegetables. Use lemon, mint, watermelon, orange, etc.
- Make fruit popsicles for a fluid-rich treat. Use puree from fruits or no-sugar-added fruit juice to make popsicles. Your kids will enjoy them as much as you would.
- Make it easy for the little ones to access water. Set up an easy-to-use water dispenser for your little kids. Have cups ready and easily accessible as well.
- Invest in high-quality reusable water bottles and keep them filled in the fridge. They will come handy when your child will need to go out to ride the bike outside. Make sure that you find the best water bottles for school that will provide all the features that will encourage your child to drink more water while in school.
- Set a timer to remind your kids its time to take a sip. This will ensure that your kids will get to top up at regular intervals and not only when they think or feel that they are thirsty. Soon enough they will get to drink on their own even without the reminder.
These are simple steps that you can do to ensure that your children get enough water every day. Make sure your children stay hydrated so they can be at their