As kids go back to school, it is important to make sure that they’re adequately fueled up for the day. You may be thinking about giving them a nutritious breakfast, packing healthy school lunches and high energy snacks, but there’s one thing they need more than anything else – water! Yes, proper hydration is important for kids to stay healthy and perform well at school, but this simple fact is often overlooked. Dehydration is very common in school going children and it usually goes unnoticed. Children are at a greater risk of dehydration because they often fail to recognise early stages of thirst, or avoid drinking water for various reasons. They also tend to perspire more, especially during the summer. That is why they need to be constantly topped up with fluids throughout the day.
Almost 75% of a child’s brain is made up of water and 60% of body weight is from water. Now you can imagine what happens if the body doesn’t have enough fluids. Like adults, even children need water for digestion, circulation, excretion and various metabolic reactions in the body. Without sufficient amounts of water, all the functions of the body will be impaired. While severe dehydration has the potential to become a major health emergency, even milder forms of dehydration can have a significant impact on a child’s cognitive and mental abilities. It can cause fatigue, headache, mental confusion, dizziness and poor concentration.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, “Being dehydrated by just 2% impairs performance in tasks that require attention, psycho-motor, and immediate memory skills, as well as assessment of the subjective state.” In another study conducted in UK, “59 children aged 7 to 9 years, were divided into two groups; one group followed their normal drinking habits, while the other was offered extra water. The results showed that children offered extra water reported less thirst and performed better when visual attention tasks were carried out. This suggests that children’s mental performance can be improved when they drink more water.”
How much water does your child need?
Water is the safest, healthiest and the most natural beverage that children can have. Always encourage your children to quench their thirst with sufficient amounts water throughout the day. Chose to offer them water instead of sugary juices and flavoured beverages. Children should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water, milk or fruit. Their water requirements will also change with age, activities and environmental conditions. At least 5 glasses (1 litre) of water per day are recommended for 5 to 8 year olds, 7 glasses (1.5 litres) for 9 to 12 year olds and 8 to 10 glasses (2 litres) for teenage kids.
How to keep your kids well hydrated?
- 1. Make sure your children carry a water bottle whenever they go out. Let them take the responsibility of filling up their own bottles and carrying them where ever they go. Help them start this practice as early as possible and it will become a healthy habit for life.
- Let your children know about the importance of drinking water regularly. Tell them about how water hydrates all the cells in the body and what happens when they don’t drink water adequately. Once they understand, they’ll take thirst more seriously.
- Remind them to drink water throughout the day. If possible, pack two water bottles for school, one can go with their lunch box and another small bottle for their desk. They can have a few mouthfuls of water in between classes and during breaks.
- Encourage them to drink plenty of water after playing a sport or activities like dance, exercise etc. It’s important to make up for all the water that they’ve lost in sweat.
- Add some extra hydration by packing a few hydrating snacks like Fresh fruits, salads, and diluted juices. Melons, berries, citrus fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce are great options.
- Pack a sports drink or electrolyte drink on days when there is an athletic competition or active outdoor play during summer.
- Never pack colas, iced teas, aerated and sugary drinks. They are all diuretics, which means they can increase fluid loss from the body.