Water - Micronutrients and your children

We hear so much about the importance of drinking water and staying hydrated, some parents are left asking why is it so important, how much water do children need and how can I tell if my child needs more?

Why is water important?

Water is an essential nutrient needed by the body in large amounts in order to function properly. Water helps transport nutrients around the body, allows cells to communicate with each other, assists with digestive function, regulates body temperatures and helps to eliminate waste and toxins from the body. Our bodies use more water each day than they can produce, so it is essential that we remain hydrated throughout the day to keep our bodies functioning well.

How much water do children need?

Children tend to have higher water requirements than adults with 60% of a child’s body consisting of fluid. When children don’t drink enough water, serious complications from dehydration can occur including exhaustion, loss of consciousness and heat stroke. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of dehydration as children often can’t recognise the signs of dehydration themselves and are less heat tolerant than adults.

Healthy tips

  • Encourage them to sip on water frequently throughout the day especially before, during and after any physical activity
  • Always pack a drink bottle for them whenever you leave the house to make sure they have access to fresh clean water
  • Let your child choose their own water bottle or cup and let them fill it up themselves where appropriate

To ensure your child is achieving the recommended water intake you can follow the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council ‘s recommendation of 1.4 – 1.6 litres of water per day, which is equal to around 4-5 cups. It’s important to remember children can get water from a range of sources including solid foods. Vegetables are a great example of a food containing high amounts of water, with cucumbers and watermelon consisting of over 90% water.

Urine colour is a good indicator of hydration levels, you can follow the visual aid below to help distinguish between hydrated and dehydrated samples.

Using your urine to tell if you

The amount children need to drink each day varies and should be based on their activity level, health status, metabolic needs and the weather on any particular day. It is important to be aware of the signs of heat stroke and dehydration as a parent and take precautionary measures to ensure your child is well hydrated.