How Much Water Should My Kids Drink?

Parents often worry about their children’s water intake: are they getting enough liquids? The thought of having your child hospitalized for dehydration is something all parents dread. But, do healthy kids need their water intake to be monitored? In most cases, the answer is ‘no’.

A healthy child will typically get enough fluid by eating food that already contains plenty of water, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. So, for example, a healthy child will likely not become hydrated if she is able to eat a balanced diet. Moreover, children will reach for the water bottle or sippy cup on their own due to the body’s thirst mechanism.

There are certain cases, though, when you do need to keep track of your kids’ water intake. For example, If a child is vomiting, has diarrhea, or is exposed to high temperatures, you absolutely need to make sure he or she is drinking adequately. In addition, there are certain athletic activities when the body demands more fluid intake. Encouraging drinking and keeping a close eye on your child will prevent dehydration. In certain cases, some children will require intravenous hydration, for example, if a child can’t adequately eat or drink orally to keep up with fluid losses. Under these circumstances, the medical staff will monitor the fluid intake carefully and calculate the exact amount of fluid a child needs.

Although a child can survive without food for several days, not drinking enough can lead to hospitalization as early as within a 12-24 hour period. There are certain severe circumstances of dehydration that can lead to serious complications, so be sure to check with your pediatrician if you are feel there are any reasons for concern or if you have any questions.

 If you’re still worried your child may not be getting enough liquids, a simple way of determining if he or she is well-hydrated is to check for signs of dehydration. Such signs include crying without tears, dry lips and mouth, and not using the restroom as often to urinate (for babies this means dry diapers or not as many wet diapers as normal). 

If you have further questions or concerns your pediatrician is an excellent resource.