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5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

By Dr. Latricia Seusy, Tidewater Children's Associates 

Water keeps kids hydrated and energized. But did you know drinking water also improves memory and attention? Water helps kids maintain a healthy weight and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If fluoridated, it can also help prevent cavities.

Our bodies are losing water all day long through breathing, sweating, and digestion. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 1 to 3 years need about four cups of beverages a day to stay hydrated. This increases for 4- to 8-year-olds to around five cups and to seven or eight cups for older children. These amounts may vary depending on the child and should be adjusted for increased activity, heat, and humidity on any given day.

Try encouraging children to drink more water by:

  • Infusing water with fruit, berries, mint, or cucumber for added flavor.
  • Keep fruits and veggies handy that are high in water content: cucumber, zucchini, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and grapefruit.
  • Let your child choose their own special water bottle or cup, or a fun straw.
  • Try using frozen fruit as ice cubes or freezing ice cubes with berries to add flavor.
  • Be a good role model. Children are likely to follow your healthy habits.

Water and milk are the only drinks kids really need. Limit sugary drinks like juice, flavored milk, and beverages that contain artificial sweeteners. The sugar content can outweigh any benefit and contribute to poor health.

As we approach the summer months, it’s also good to know the signs of dehydration so you can react quickly. Children who play sports or are physically active should drink extra water beforehand and take regular water breaks during activity. Signs a child is dehydrated include:

  • Dry or sticky mouth.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Less urination or dark-colored urine.
  • Headache.
  • Cramps.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Flushed skin.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling overly hot or cold.

Call your pediatrician if you’re concerned your child is dehydrated. If your child becomes extremely tired or unresponsive, vomits, stops sweating, or has severe abdominal pain, call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. These may be signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.