Well hello there again Savannah! As the temperature stays hot here through late summer and early fall, (and any time, really) it’s a great idea to talk proper hydration with your kidz. Hydration for kids can feel a little tricky. How much water is enough? And how much is too much? What other kidz’ drinks count as helpful with hydration for kids?
Proper Hydration for Kids: Infants Under 6 Months
First of all, for you new parents, let’s talk babies. One thing a lot of young parents and families don’t know is that infants are easily dehydrated, and they should never drink just water. Infants and babies should only drink milk until they’re about six months old. After six months, a little bit of water might be okay. Otherwise, keep your babies drinking plenty of formula or breast milk.
Proper Hydration for Kids: Older Babies
So your kid is older than 6 months – how much water should they drink?
As always, hydration for kids all depends on their weight, the heat, and their activity level.
That’s a good question! In general, at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight. For example, if your healthy baby over six months old between fifteen and twenty pounds, they should drink at least fifteen ounces of water per day. For reference, the average kitchen glass is about eight ounces, so your babies over six months need to drink at least two glasses throughout the whole day.
Proper Hydration for Kids: Toddlers
What about hydration for kids like toddlers and other small children?
By the time your kidz are toddlers weigh over thirty pounds (say, around two to three years old), they should be drinking about four glasses of water in total per day. As they get older, say around four or five years old, it’s time for five to six glasses per day. Of course, all this depends on their weight and activity level. The larger the child, the more water they need to drink. The more active the child, the more water they need to drink. The hotter it is, the more they need to drink!
How to Help Kidz Properly Hydrate
How much water is too much water?
Most kids should be safe with half again as much water as they need. So if they’re about fifty pounds, they should be okay with seventy-five ounces of water with some juice or sports drink spread evenly on a day when they’re really active. Kidz should never drink too much water all at once though – doing so keeps electrolytes from helping kids hydrate and too much can even be poisonous. Most kids will simply vomit up too much water if they drink too much all at once, but in extreme cases, it could be fatal. Too much water all at once is generally more than a couple of cups at once – or probably one verse of Happy Birthday at the drinking fountain.
Teaching Kidz to Know When They’re Dehydrated
When kidz are busy having too much fun at the park or the party, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Sometimes, sugary soda drinks are readily available, and they don’t help hydrate much. Remind kids regularly that by the time they’re thirsty, they’re already dehydrated. This can be a difficult lesson to instill when teaching hydration for kids – sometimes they don’t want to stop for that all-important hydration break!
What to Drink: Water. Always Water Unless Very Active
Water is almost always best answer for dehydration. Soda and even fruit juice can have too much salt. Soda and punch dehydrates rather than hydrates, and so can a lot of fruit juice. When kids are very active and playing vigorously, a little juice is better than nothing, but a little water is a great idea, too! There are sugar-heavy sports drinks that can make sense to help kids hydrate when they’re very active. When they’re sedentary (not so active), even though they taste good sports drinks are sugary and don’t help hydration for kids much. Water is better when activity is low.
Teach Them the Last Resort: Watching for Signs of Dehydration
Remind your children that the signs of dehydration come too late. By the time their mouth is dry, they’re already dehydrated. When your kids are old enough to understand, you can teach them to watch the color of their pee to know if their body is sufficiently hydrated. The darker, the more water their bodies need. By the time they’re seeing very dark urine, they’re in the danger zone. They need to stop everything and drink a little water. Then wait a few minutes, and drink a little more. Then wait a few more minutes, then drink just a little more!
Again, you must reinforce that moderation and regularity is always the key when it comes to hydration for kids. Too much water all at once can make a kid feel bloated or even hurt them a lot! Too little regular water can hurt them, too. So teach them to hydrate with safe, clean water regularly. Teach them that watching for the signs is great, but they need to stop what they’re doing and drink a little water if they’re feeling dehydrated, and then follow that drink up with another a few minutes after.
If you ever think your kid is too dehydrated (or even had too much water), bring them by and we’ll help you with this teachable moment. Urgent Kidz Care is here to help – it’s what we do!