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How Much Water Should Kids Drink?

Water is essential to life. In fact, water covers 80% of the surface of our planet and over 60% of the human body consists of water. Water is essential for children and adults alike to stay healthy and well. But how much water should kids drink?

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The Role of Water in the Human Body

Perhaps the most commonly thought of part of the human body that involves water is blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body as well as helping the body rid itself of waste products. The body also uses water for:

  • Sweat, which the body produces to keep itself cool.
  • Urine and bowel movements, which rid the body of harmful substances and byproducts.
  • Expelling humidity out of the lungs when people "breathe out."

Most of the chemical reactions that the human body must perform require water.

Basically, without enough water, the human body would soon be unable to function properly.


Kids and Water Consumption

The answer to the question "How much water should kids drink?" isn't straightforward. First, water intake should really be included in the amount of total fluids that a child consumes during the day, including fluids consumed through milk, juices, soups and soft drinks as well as food, which also contains water.

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In addition, other factors can affect the amount of fluids that your child needs on a daily basis. These factors include:

  • Heat
  • Altitude
  • If the child is playing hard or exercising

Generally speaking, children from birth to 2 years or kids who weigh up to 26 lbs. should have 3 to 6 cups of water per day. Children are who 2 to 12 years old or weigh from 26 to 100 lbs. need about 4 to 8 cups of water per day.

If you have young children and one of them asks for something to drink, offer water to all of your kids, particularly the ones who aren't old enough to ask for water themselves. In addition, if you are thirsty, it's a good bet that your kids are thirsty, too. Remember that children's "internal sensors" about dehydration aren't completely developed. Your kids may not realize that they are thirsty until they are starting to become dehydrated.


Another way to determine if your children are getting enough fluids is to check the color and smell of your kids' urine. Except for the first time in the morning, children's urine should be clear to a light yellow color and nearly odorless. This is a particularly helpful check for babies and toddlers in diapers who aren't talking yet.

Keep cold water on hand. The body absorbs cold water, at about 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, more readily than warmer water. In addition, drinking cold water while exercising or during hard play has a double effect. Drinking cold water under these conditions will help cool your body inside by absorbing the cold water and cooling the outside of the body with sweat.

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Water Consumption & Obesity

According to Harvard University, Americans are consuming about 300 calories a day more than Americans did 30 years ago. About half of this calorie intake is attributed to drinking sugary drinks. During this same time period, childhood obesity has tripled or quadrupled in certain areas. Training your children at a young age to go for water instead of other types of fluids may be able to help your kids from gaining excess weight when they are children and keep the weight off during their adult years.

Obesity in children has social as well as medical impacts. Heavy children are often bullied or teased for their appearance. In addition, if the child doesn't lose weight, they are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease beginning in childhood and continuing into adulthood.


Keep in mind that sugar-added drinks aren't the only drinks that can have a negative impact on your kids. Fruit juices and milk also contain sugar, so it important to watch how much of these drinks your child is consuming. Diluting 100% fruit juice with water is a great way to get your child to drink more water while still giving them the fruity taste they enjoy. An ideal ratio is 2/3 water to 1/3 juice, but you may need to start with a higher juice ratio and work your way down over time. {relatedarticles}

Water Consumption & Dehydration

Babies and young tots are more easily dehydrated than older children and adults. In addition, older children can also express the fact that they are thirsty, unlike young children who can't communicate clearly yet. Dehydration can occur because:

  • The child hasn't had enough fluids to drink;
  • Excessive diarrhea as a result of a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection;
  • Excessive vomiting as a result of a viral or bacterial infection;
  • A viral infection that results in high temperature;
  • A viral infection that makes it painful for the child to eat or drink because of sores in the mouth;
  • Excessive sweating because of heat exposure; and
  • Undiagnosed diabetes resulting is excessive urination.

Symptoms of minor to moderate dehydration include:

  • Headache
  • Thirstiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sticky mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Fewer than 6 wet diapers per day
  • Older children urinating fewer than 3 times a day or not urinating for 8 hours or more

{relatedarticles}Severe symptoms of a baby or child who is dehydrated can include:

  • Crying without tears;
  • The tongue or inside of the mouth being dry instead of moist;
  • Moving around less than normal, being difficult to wake or being lethargic;
  • Eyes that are sunken;
  • Consistent green vomit;
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours; and
  • Bloody stool.

If your child is experiencing these or similar symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor or take your child to a local emergency room as soon as possible. In fact, if you have any questions regarding childhood dehydration, it's better to ask and find out that you are being a little overprotective the first time, than not ask and have your child suffer.

By making sure your child gets plenty of water through drinking and eating, you can help prevent dehydration and keep your kids healthy and happy.