Hydration and water facts for kids
Hydration is particularly important for children as they have higher water requirements in relation to their body weight than adultsConstant F (2013) Hydration de i’enfant. Médecine & Nutrition. Tous droits de reproduction reserves [Epub ahead of print].
Kids don’t always recognise the early stages of thirst, which can make them particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, especially during times that can drive up their body fluid losses, for example when they are playing sport or during warm weatherBenelam B and Wyness L (2010) Hydration and health: a review. Nutrition Bulletin Volume 35 March 2010 British Nutrition Foundation, Healthy hydration guide,2010.
Dehydration, even if only mild1% body weight loss, can cause tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration, reduced mental performance and dry skin.
This page looks at what kids should drink and how much they are drinking. It also gives some top tips on keeping kids healthily hydrated as well as some interesting facts about water.
What should kids drink?
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) gives guidelines for the types of fluid to drink, and water is the only fluid which they recommend drinking “plenty” as it hydrates without calories or risking harm to teeth.
How much should kids be drinking?
The amount a child needs to drink as it can vary greatly, due to factors including age, gender, the weather and how much physical activity they do. It is advised that kids aged 4-13 aim to drink approximately 6-8 glasses of fluid a day in addition to the water included in the food in their diet. Younger kids need relatively small drinks (e.g. 150 ml serving)Benelam B & Wyness L (2010) Hydration and health: a review. British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin 35, 3-25. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has developed the below set of fluid requirements for children of different agesEFSA (European Food Standards Agency) (2010) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for Water. EFSA Journal 8(3), 1459.
|Gender||Age group||Amount of fluid from drinks
and food (litres/day)1
|Amount of fluid from drinks
|Boys and girls||4 to 8 years||1.6||1.1-1.3|
|Girls||9 to 13 years||1.9||1.3-1.5|
|Boys||9 to 13 years||2.1||1.5-1.7|
Top tips for keeping kids healthily hydrated
- Children should aim to hydrate with plain, natural drinks that are unsweetened and free from additives.
- Starting in the morning with their breakfast, kids should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water, milk, fruit juice/ vegetable juices.
- Children taking part in sports or exposed to warm weather need to replenish the lost fluids by drinking more water.
- Research suggests adequately hydrated children may perform better in schoolEdmonds CJ & Burford D (2009) Should children drink more water?: The effects of drinking water on cognition in children. Appetite 52(3), 776-9, Booth P et al. (2012) Water supplementation improves visual attention and fine motor skills in schoolchildren. Education and Health 30(3), 75-79, Fadda R et al. (2012) Effects of drinking supplementary water at school on cognitive performance in children. Appetite 59(3), 730-7.
- Repeated tastings of water may help kids to develop a taste for waterCooke LJ et al. (2011) Facilitating or undermining? The effect of reward on food acceptance: a narrative review. Appetite 57(2), 493-7. To make it more fun you could add ice, a slice of lemon or a curly straw.
Water facts for kids
- When we are born water makes up about 75% of our body weightBenelam B and Wyness L (2010) Hydration and health: a review. Nutrition Bulletin Volume 35 March 2010 British Nutrition Foundation, Healthy hydration guide,2010.
- Water makes up about 60% of the body weight of older children and adultsBenelam B and Wyness L (2010) Hydration and health: a review. Nutrition Bulletin Volume 35 March 2010 British Nutrition Foundation, Healthy hydration guide,2010.
- Water is constantly being lost from our body (when we go to the toilet, when we breathe, when we sweat) so if we don’t drink enough we become dehydrated.
- Water helps our body in many ways:
- It carries nutrients to cells;
- It helps to remove waste products from our major organs;
- It helps us to control our body temperature.
- Water is found in all drinks and also in food. For example water is in orange juice and milk; it is also in fruits and vegetables. It is even in cheese!
- People can survive for up to 50 days without food but only a few days without drinking water.