Adequate fluid is a real concern for a lot of parents and if your child is prone to constipation, fluids are something you will be asked to encourage them to have more of. In the summer we need to drink more as we use fluid to cool ourselves down and if your child has had a tummy bug extra fluid will be needed to help them rehydrate. Here are my top 5 tips for a healthy fluid intake:
1. How much to drink?
Children need to have 6-8 drinks per day but the size of those drinks will vary with the age of the child. For example your average 5 year old needs around 1400ml fluid per day, but by 10 she will need 1700ml and by 16 years this increases to 2400ml per day.
2. When to drink?
It’s much better for your bowels to drink regularly throughout the day rather than save it up and have one big drink, so a glass with each meal and a glass or two in-between is great. Sipping from a water bottle throughout the school day is also fantastic and I’d recommend asking your child to make sure they drink it all, refill it and drink some of their second bottle before home time.
3. What to drink?
For children, water and milk is best. However if they need a little encouragement I’m not averse to spicing things up a little with a bit of flavour. If you want to use a squash, make sure is sugar free or labelled as ‘no added sugar’ as this will protect their teeth. The sweeteners used in squashes have had a lot of bad press over the years, but in reality there is no proven impact on health. Fruit juices and smoothies are also great, but limit these to a small glass of around 150ml once a day and have them alongside food as the free sugars from the fruit can be damaging to teeth.
4. And if they really won’t drink?
Fortunately even the most reluctant drinker can often be tempted with an ice lolly! Get creative with homemade ice lollies made with a mixture of sugar free flavoured squashes, juices and smoothies. Yoghurt pots or tubes (fresh or frozen) and sugar free jellies all count as fluid. Savoury options include soups, gravies, sauces and casseroles. Fruits and vegetables also have a high water content, so encourage those where you can.
5. Hungry or thirsty?
Sometimes children get the sensations of hunger and thirst mixed up (and sometimes adults do too!) This isn’t always great for their wastelines and so when your child asks for food and you really don’t think they’re hungry try offering a drink instead. A glass of milk or milkshake might be a good compromise as it will fill them up with protein, calcium and isotonic fluid as well as quenching thirst.
What does your child like to drink?