Hydration Guidelines for Kids

Hydration Guidelines for Kids

While watching one of my son’s new favorite shows, Adam Ruins Everything (an “educational comedy television series” that, sure, contains the occasional raw language, but appeals to the short tween/teen attention span), the crazily coiffed host tackled the issue of hydration. He cited multiple studies, and even brought in a hydration specialist to dispel many myths on the subject. He concluded that much of the hype and fervor over fluid intake can be chalked up to marketing campaigns by bottled water and sports beverage companies. It made me question everything I thought I knew  on the subject, so I decided to dig up the latest research.

In an attempt to stay away from studies that were possibly funded by the aforementioned companies, I turned to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a group of over 100,000 credentialed specialists tasked with providing us with science-based food and nutrition information. They sound credible enough to me.

Their website, www.eatright.org, stresses that hydration is important because water helps to:

  • keep body temperature constant at about 98.6 degrees
  • transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and carries waste products away
  • maintain blood volume
  • lubricate joints and body tissues

Great, now how much should our kids actually be drinking? They say…

“As a rule of thumb, to get enough water, your child or teen should drink at least six to eight cups (NOTE: they refer to measured cups, not ambiguously sized glasses) of water a day and eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Also, pay special attention to your child’s or teen’s water consumption when they are physically active. Before, during, and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. The goal is to drink a half cup to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.”


Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements

(Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

Age Range    Gender     Total Water (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years         Girls and Boys     5
9 to 13 years     Girls 7
Boys 8
14 to 18 years Girls     8
Boys 11


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points out that the amounts of water listed on the chart can also come from fruits and vegetables. Contrary to popular belief (or mine, anyway), vegetables often have higher water content than fruit, but seriously — are you more likely to get your kids to snack on watermelon or lettuce?

Some foods with high water content include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce/cabbage
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Oranges

Good old fashioned thirst is usually the best indicator of whether or not your child needs to consume more water, but other signs of dehydration include:

  • Decreased urine
  • Urine appears darker yellow than normal
  • Headache
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness

Keep cool, and obey your thirst this summer!