Most adults trying to stay healthy know the rule - try to drink 8 glasses of water per day, at a minimum. But what about kids - especially as they get into their sweaty spring sports (or playground) schedule? It’s hard to know, especially when what’s appropriate today might not be appropriate in a minute, when they shoot up 3 inches! Here are some pointers for parents to understand how much water to encourage their kids to drink so they can stay hydrated without being waterlogged as they slosh across the soccer and little league fields:
Anyone who has held a baby knows that those bundles of joy are also bundles of heat! Luckily, infants have a built in cooling system - they are made up 75% of water (as opposed to we adults who are only half H20).
Young children are said to need about 1.5 ounces of water per pound of bodyweight each day. Notice that I didn’t say “at least.” While many parents (guilty as charged!) think “if a little of something is good for my baby, a lot is better!” that is not the case with water. If you give too much water, your little guy or girl will fill up without taking in enough calories and could have trouble gaining weight appropriately.
If your child is out of the toddler stage and grabbing water on his or her own, keep an eye. Children from 4 to 8 years old should aim for around 5 cups of water per day - more if they are larger/older, out in heat or more active. The rule of thumb while exercising at any age is a half cup to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous activity.
Once children hit 9 to 13, they should work their way up to those adult levels - 7 to 8 cups per day and likely a bit more for boys.
14 to 18 year old boys need even more water than adults are told to drink, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, active growing teen boys should work toward 11 cups of water each day. Time to make sure he’s bringing a sport bottle wherever he goes!
That’s a Lot of Water!
Having trouble getting your kiddo to guzzle from the fountain? Don’t worry - water doesn’t have to be… water. Water-rich foods such as fruits, veggies, milk and juice (in moderation) have high water content. Juice popsicles (ideally 50% juice, 50% water), fruit smoothies, and even water with a splash of flavoring (e.g. Kool Aid) can do the trick. Just be sure not to let your child fill up on the “empty calories” of sugary drinks or take in much caffeine - the goal is healthier kids, not jittery ones!