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Just because children are smaller, don't think that this means they need only small amounts of water. Water is, without doubt, one of the most important nutrients for children even though when we read about children and nutrition, it's often left out. Water keeps them healthy, keeps them hydrated in order for their body to function and keeps them on form at school and nursery. Dehydration leads to a reduction in mental and physical performance. And, long term chronic dehydration may cause health problems and illnesses later in life.
Many pre-schools and nurseries have inadequate resources for children to have access to water so parents should encourage their children to drink regularly at home and try to encourage lots of good drinking at their nursery too. In hot weather, when exercising or running around in the playground, children should especially drink more. Even a small degree of dehydration can reduce their performance and well-being.
Although children are physically smaller than adults, they need to consume plenty of water. Research states that older children age 11-14 should drink about 3 litres a day. For toddlers it depends on their weight. It is said that they should drink about 1½ ounces of water per pound of body weight.
Children should drink more often and even when they don't feel thirsty. Because their body is less developed than ours, by the time they feel thirsty, dehydration may have already set in. Headaches, irritability and drowsiness are all symptoms.
Why Is Water So Important?
Adults are made up of 50% water and for infants the figure is closer to 75%, so water for toddlers is vital in order to keep healthy. Water also cools down a hot body, lubricates joints and make muscles work more smoothly.
If your child won't drink liquids, make sure they eat lots of water rich foods: soups, vegetables, milky drinks, smoothies etc. Or, add a splash of juice to make it a bit more tasty!
Tips to get your toddler drinking:
- Get a snazzy cup or bottle for them to drink from
- Keep the bottle of water in the fridge so its nice and cold
- Add some ice or slices of orange or lemon and serve from a pretty jug. You can even get fun shapes. (just make sure they don't choke, though!)
- Use special straws
Do anything to get them drinking. It's vital!