How Much Water Should A Kid Drink? 13 Ways To Encourage Them

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We know water is essential for life since it helps regulate body temperature, transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, and protects internal organs and tissues. But how much water should kids drink in a day? The answer to this question may vary as per several factors, but the primary determiners are usually the child’s age and gender.

The body loses water through urine, sweat, and even breath. Therefore, the water lost by the body has to be replenished by drinking water. Adequate water intake is important for the health and well-being of children. Read this post to know all about a child’s daily water requirement.

How Much Water Should A Child Drink?

Every child’s body needs a certain amount of water each day, and both over-hydration (hyponatremia) and dehydration can be harmful to their body (1). As per the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the following are the recommended daily water intake for a child based on their age and sex (2).

AgeSexTotal Water Intake (Liters)
4 to 8 yearsGirl/Boy1.7
9 to 13 yearsGirl2.1
Boy2.4
14 to 18 yearsGirl2.3
Boy3.3

Apart from plain water, children can also consume healthy beverages, fruits, and vegetables that add to their total water intake in a day.

If your child spends time outdoors participating in any physical activity, especially in the sun, they will need to drink more water depending on how much they sweat. Ensure they drink water before, during, and after the activity.

How Do I Know If My Child Is Hydrated?

Dehydration in children happens when they lose excessive amounts of water and salts from their bodies and do not replace the fluid that has been lost. To check if your child is well hydrated, watch out for the following signs.

  1. Observe how often your child urinates and the color of their urine. If they pass urine at regular intervals, and the urine color is clear or light yellow, you need not worry. But if they hardly urinate and the color of their urine is dark yellow, you can assume it’s dehydration (3).
  1. Alternatively, you can also try the pinch test, wherein you gently pinch the back of your child’s wrist or hand and notice how their skin reacts. If the skin comes back instantly to its original shape, it is a sign of good hydration. If it indents and takes a while to come back to its original shape, it can be an early sign of dehydration (4).
  1. You could also look for the following common signs and symptoms of dehydration in children (5).
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Crying without tears
  • A high fever
  • Being unusually sleepy or drowsy
  • Irritability
  • Eyes that look sunken
  • Lack of urination

13 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Drink More Water

Children often forget to drink water, and it can be challenging to get them to drink water on their own. Here are effective ways in which you can encourage your child to drink water.

  1. Carry a few bottles of water with you at all times when traveling with your child. Keep one bottle in your vehicle and another bottle in your child’s backpack. Send them to school with their reusable bottle so they can drink anytime they feel thirsty.
  1. Make it a habit for your child to drink water. If they start this good habit from childhood, it will benefit them even in adulthood. You can fix a time for drinking water, such as a glass early in the morning, one glass an hour before sleeping, and so on.
  1. Try to keep them away from unhealthy sugary drinks, and let water be their first option to quench their thirst.
  1. At home, allot a bottle separately for your child, and tell them they have to finish up the bottle by sipping water frequently throughout the day. Praise them each time they hand you their empty water bottle by the end of the day.
  1. Make their water look tempting by adding colorful berries or lemon in the water jug or their water bottle.
  1. Get them a fancy water bottle, mug, or cup, and place it in a place easily accessible to them, such as the refrigerator or their study table. This way, they will be reminded to sip water each time they see it.
  1. Add some color to their water. You could do this by using ice cubes that come in different shapes, such as stars or hearts. Add some mint leaves or some colorful fruit juice to the ice cubes, and place them in their transparent bottle or water pitcher.
  1. Set a family goal of drinking water each day, and calculate the total amount of water consumed by each member at the end of the week. Award the person who meets their water-drinking target.
  1. Lure your child to drink more water by getting them a cool-looking straw. This will make drinking water more attractive to them.
  1. When children are taught actions that most adults do, they feel excited to do it more often. So, you can teach your child to use the water dispenser in your house. Show how you trust them with such a responsibility, and they will do it happily and drink water too.
  1. If your child acts fussy when you offer them water, add ample amounts of fruits and vegetables high in water content to their diet.
  1. For tech-savvy children, install a reminder app that buzzes at regular intervals to remind them to drink water throughout the day.
  1. Lastly, lead by example and sip water regularly yourself, so they watch you and pick up the healthy habit.

Knowing the answer to “how much water should kids drink?” helps the parents or caregivers to ensure that the child is adequately hydrated. The daily water requirement may vary depending on each child’s age, activities, and climatic conditions. Urination at regular intervals and a skin pinch can help you know the hydration status. Getting them fancy bottles, making family goals on drinking water, adding some crushed berries to give color to the water, and giving diluted fruit juices or soups are some of the best ways to prevent dehydration in children.

Key Pointers

  • Children aged from 4 to 8 years old should consume 1.7 liters of water on a daily basis.
  • Observing the number of times they urinate and the color of urine, a pinch test can help you know if your child is hydrated.
  • Dry mouth, lack of urination, and irritability are some common signs of dehydration
  • Scroll down to know how to encourage your child to drink water.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Hydration In-Depth; Boston Children’s Hospital
2. Dietary Reference Intakes; National Academy of Sciences
3. 10 Colors That Suggest Urine Trouble; UC San Diego Health
4. Dehydration; LabTestsOnline
5. Dehydration; MedLine Plus
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Dr. Neema Shrestha

(MD)
Dr. Neema Shrestha is a pediatrician with a special interest in the field of neonatology. Currently working in Kathmandu, Nepal, she completed her MBBS from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal in 2008, Diploma in Child Health from D.Y. Patil University in 2011, MD from Nepal Medical College in 2015 and Fellowship in Neonatology from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi in... more

Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more

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