Fact Sheet: Hydration
Water is the most abundant compound found in the human body. Like the oil in an engine and fluid in a radiator, water lubricates the joints, aids in the movement of nutrients and regulates body temperature. Acting as a solvent in which the important chemical reactions of life occur and without it we would become dehydrated and eventually die. Children require 1 to 1.5 litres of fluid per day the equivalent of 4-6 glasses.
Warm weather and physical activity increase the amount of water we require.
There are many options available to children in terms of what fluids to drink. From fruit juice to milk, cordial and soft drink - water is by far the best option. Parents should decide when and what else to offer children to drink based on nutritional value and circumstances.
The easiest way to check how well hydrated a child is, is to check the colour of their urine. A small amount of dark yellow urine, with a strong odour indicates dehydration. A plentiful follow of pale urine, free of odour indicates a child is well hydrated.
It is also important to understand that children, especially younger children can not differentiate between being hungry and thirsty. They may ask, or appear to be hungry, when in fact they are thirsty. Always offer a drink with food.
Dilute fruit juices and reserve cordials and soft drinks for special occasions.
Encourage children to drink water with the use of their every own special drink bottle.
Adding a little orange, lemon or lime juice to a tray of ice cubes is a good way to add a little flavour to a glass of water. Lightly flavoured blocks of ice in summer are also a good way to keep children hydrated.
Children, especially younger children have small stomachs and can often over consume fluids in the form of milk, cordial or soft drinks. If this happens immediately before a meal they can tend to pick at their food and loose not only interest in the meal but valuable nutritional intakes.