Drinking enough water might sound like a simple daily task, but the consequences of not drinking enough can be serious. Dehydration can lead to complications such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, fatigue, headache and fainting. Children's bodies are not as efficient at cooling down as adults, which makes them more prone to dehydration. Their risk of dehydration also increases as temperatures rise. Proper hydration is key to helping your child avoid heat-related illness and health complications.
How much water should kids drink?
The amount of water a child should drink can vary depending on age, weight, activity level and weather conditions. However, a general rule is take half of your child's weight (up to 100 pounds) – and that's the number of ounces of water they should drink every day (for example, an 80-pound child should drink 40 ounces of water).
While water needs vary, here's an approximate recommendation for how much water a child should drink per day, depending on their age and gender.
- 1-3 years old (girls and boys): 4 cups of water/day
- 4-8 years old (girls and boys): 4 cups of water/day
- 9-13 years old (girls): 7 cups of water/day
- 9-13 years old (boys): 8 cups of water/day
- 14-18 years old (girls): 8 cups of water/day
- 14-18 years old (boys): 11 cups of water/day
Check with your pediatrician if you have questions about your child's water intake and hydration.
Tips to encourage proper hydration in kids
- Get a portable water bottle to encourage drinking water on the go
- Mark lines on your child's water bottle to show how much they should drink by a certain time
- Avoid soft drinks and limit access to juices
- Infuse water with fresh fruit to add flavor and variety
- Offer water in fun cups or with silly straws
- Be a good example and drink water throughout the day
- Use the graphic above to explain to your child how the color of his or her urine can show signs of dehydration