The small child does not have an effective self-regulation system of thirst, so it is necessary to make him drink often. The pediatrician explains when and how much water a child should drink
How much water should a child drink
To grow well every child needs a balanced diet and adequate drinking. His body, in fact, is made up for the 75% water which is distributed in different percentages in the various organs.
The small child, however, like the elderly, does not have an effective thirst self-regulation system, that’s why it’s important make him drink often, even if he doesn’t ask.
But when, what and how much water should children drink to stay healthy?
This question was answered by the experts of the Italian Society of Preventive and Social Pediatrics (Sipps), on the occasion of the World water day which is celebrated on March 22, providing useful advice to parents for proper hydration.
Water – explains Giuseppe Di Mauro, Sipps president – is an essential element due to the numerous functions it performs in the body: it regulates body temperature, eliminates toxins, helps the body absorb nutrients, transforms food into energy, transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Proper hydration – he emphasizes – also guarantees an adequate supply of mineral salts, dissolved in spring water. For all these reasons, a correct diet requires the intake of water every day, at any age
“The amount of water taken – adds Leo Venturelli, Sipps communications manager – depends on the age of the child, from the daily diet, but also from external factors such as diseases (with a fever it is necessary to drink more, because the body increases perspiration), physical activity, the ambient temperature (hot environments make you perspire more and this implies the need to greater hydration) “. Sipps pediatricians have therefore drawn an indicative scheme of the overall fluids a child needs according to age, such as drinking water, in addition to that contained in food: one liter and 100 ml for children aged 4 to 10 years And a liter and a half / two for adolescents.
But when should you drink?
There are mechanisms that regulate thirst – explains Andrea Vania, 1st level manager and head of the Center for Pediatric Dietology and Nutrition of the Department of Pediatrics Sapienza University of Rome – Our body has a thirst self-control system that has its control unit in the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain. The small child, however, like the elderly person, does not have an effective self-regulation system and for this reason it is important to offer him a drink often, even if he does not ask for it spontaneously.
Symptoms of dehydration in the child
Sipps also focuses on the spies that help a parent understand that the child needs to drink. If the little one experiences headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, a feeling of cold, pay attention because there is no water. As well as concentrated and dark yellow urine mean dehydration.
These situations – concludes Di Mauro – occur mostly in coincidence with excessive heat in the environment or during the summer, on the occasion of a physical exercise of a certain commitment and for feverish states. For this reason, parents must implement a series of tricks to entice the child to drink: from the use of colored glasses to the transformation of drinking into a game, up to teaching the child to serve himself a drink on his own. And for everyone, parents and teachers, the commitment to lead by example by drinking often throughout the day or carrying a bottle of water with you every time you go out.
What water should the baby drink?
Finally, a piece of advice on which water to prefer: from the year of life onwards, the mineral or spring waters with a fixed residue 500-1500 mg / L, which guarantee a correct calcium intake. This is why a careful reading of the labels is essential: it allows you to know the fixed residue as well as the sodium, potassium, calcium, fluorine, iron, magnesium and bicarbonate content.
The label also contains the bottling and expiry dates. Particular attention must then be paid to the child when carrying out a physical activity, which involves the loss of a lot of fluids: it is necessary to encourage him to drink before, during and after. But – the pediatricians warn – you don’t need mineral salts and sugary drinks: simple water, at room temperature, and a healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, is enough to hydrate a ‘young athlete’.