How Much Water Should Your Child Be Drinking?
For years, we’ve been told to drink eight glasses of water a day. The eight-glass recommendation is based on the standard 2,000 calorie diet. The idea is that for every calorie burned, people should drink 1 milliliter of water- and 2,000 milliliters is the equivalent of eight cups. However, when it comes to children, their calorie intake and activity level varies, therefore, eight glasses of water might be appropriate for some, but not for others. The question is how much water is right to keep your child well hydrated? Don’t sweat it, read further to find out!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children drink six glasses of water on an average day. During activity, however, your child can lose up to a half-liter of fluid per hour. The AAP suggests about 5 ounces (or two kid-size gulps) of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes for an 88-pound child. Kids and teens weighing about 132 pounds should drink 9 ounces.
Be Ahead of the Game
Don’t wait until your child is thirsty to offer refreshment; by that time he or she is already dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration for kids can include fatigue, dry lips and tongue, extremely flushed cheeks, no urination and sunken eye sockets.
Three studies by the University of Connecticut found that more than half of the children at sports camps were significantly dehydrated despite the availability of water and sports drinks and the encouragement to drink liquids.
Get your child in the habit early on by scheduling frequent beverage breaks during activity, about every 20 minutes or so in hot weather. Another tactic in keeping kids well hydrated is to make a healthy beverage and snack part of the after-activity celebration or cool down. Toast the efforts or success of the team to encourage your little athletes to drink the necessary quantities for good health.
You Can Bring a Child to the Water…
Studies have shown that children routinely prefer flavored beverages to plain water and will drink up to 90 percent more when it is offered to them. Sports drinks also replace electrolytes lost from the body through sweating. Such beverages should be limited to use during athletic competitions or active play on a hot day, as they are generally high in carbohydrates and calories. Hydrating can include beverages and foods besides water, such as 100% fruit juice and low fat milk. However, if your goal is weight loss you should avoid soda, juice and sport drinks that are high in calories. Sports drinks were designed for elite athletes who need to replenish calories and electrolytes quickly.
When choosing drinks for kids, avoid those that have caffeine, such as iced tea or many sodas. As a diuretic, caffeine can contribute to the dehydration process by increasing fluid loss. In addition, as a stimulant, it can depress the symptoms of dehydration.
Children can also quench their thirst and keep cool with ice pops. Make your own by mixing 100 percent juice with water. Or offer fruits with a high water content, like melons, peaches, and grapes; the vitamins and minerals are a bonus!
About This Author
Joanna Dolgoff, M.D. is a Pediatrician, Child Obesity Expert, and Author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right (Rodale, 2009). Dr. Dolgoff’s child and adolescent weight loss program (http://www.DrDolgoff.com) has been featured on WABC News, WNBC News, Fox 5 Morning Show, My9 News, and WPIX News. She has also filmed pieces with The Today Show and Extra, is an official blogger for the Huffington Post, and is the official doctor for Camp Shane, the nation’s largest weight loss camp. Children from 45 different states are losing weight with Dr. Dolgoff’s online weight loss program (http://www.DrDolgoff.com).
Dr. Dolgoff attended Princeton University and the NYU School of Medicine and completed her Pediatric Residency at the Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital of New York. She is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a former certified fitness instructor. Dr. Dolgoff resides in Roslyn, NY with her husband and two children, ages 4 and 7.