Water, Water, Everywhere - MetroFamily Magazine
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Water, Water, Everywhere

by Kim Bilger MPH, RD, LD

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Did you know that water makes up 60 percent of an adult's body and an even higher percentage of a child's body? It is used by every cell in the body and can't be stored, so we have to make sure we replace it each day. The amount of water someone needs depends on his/her age, weight, activity level, overall state of health and climate.

Did you also know that by the time you sense thirst, you may already be dehydrated? This is especially important to consider in children who may not want to stop playing long enough to drink something or who may not notice thirst.

So, how much water does a child need? Well, unfortunately, there's not an exact answer to this. Children should have fluids during meals and snack times and obviously when they're thirsty. Keep in mind that during hot weather or high physical activity times, your child may need more water than normal. A good way to know if your child is getting enough fluid is if they are sweating and urinating normally. If properly hydrated, urine should be a pale yellow color. Also, a child younger than 6 months of age does not need water in addition to breastmilk or formula unless there are unusual circumstances for which your pediatrician should be consulted.

Keep in mind that water is found in many sources, including foods and other beverages. For example, milk and 100% juice are ok to count for part of a day's fluid intake. Beverages with caffeine, however, don't count as fluid intake because they actually cause the body to lose more water. Some foods also contain a high amount of fluid. Strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach and broccoli are about 90-99% water. Yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, and carrots are 80-89% water.  So, your child's fluid intake doesn't have to come from just water alone. A good diet will include various sources of water.  

It is also important to remember that water is enough to hydrate most of the time, despite what sports drink marketers tell you!  Sports drinks often contain sugar or artificial sweeteners that our bodies and teeth don’t need and replacing electrolytes (sodium & potassium) is not usually necessary for day-to-day activities, unless your child is a professional athlete, of course!  So, skip the sugar and cost of sports drinks and stick to good, old-fashioned water.  

Kim Bilger is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping people optimize their nutritional health.  She lives in Edmond with her husband and three kids who appreciate her love of baking but not always her love of vegetables.

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