Did you know water is actually more important to the human body than food?
Newborn babies’ bodies are made up of around 75 per cent water, decreasing to around 60 per cent as they mature
to adulthood. And though it can be hard to calculate the exact amount of fluid required each day, the following can
be used as a guide:
• 0-6 months: 0.7L per day (from breast milk or formula).
• 7-12 months: 0.8L/day (from breast milk, formula, food, plain water and other beverages, including 0.6L as fluids).
Up until the age of six months the fluid in breast milk and water added to formula is usually enough to meet bub’s hydration requirements, with breast milk containing around 87 per cent water. After this age, cooled, boiled water can be added to your baby’s diet. It’s best to serve this from a cup to help your little one develop her drinking skills.
• 1-3 years: around 1.0L
per day (about 4 cups).
• 4-8 years: around 1.2L
per day (about 5 cups).
WHY WATER IS SO IMPORTANT
Dehydration can lead to headaches, irritability, fatigue and poor concentration. Symptoms of poor fluid intake can include constipation, dark urine or strong smelling nappies, fewer wet nappies than usual or rate or infrequent trips to the bathroom for children.
Lack of fluid is especially concerning for littlies during times of illness when they may be hesitant to eat or drink, or when they have vomiting and diarrhoea due to extra fluid losses. If your baby has diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, get them to the GP to ensure they don’t become too dehydrated.
WHICH WATER IS BEST?
Cooled, boiled water is the safest and easiest source of water for most babies.
INCREASING YOUR CHILD’S FLUID INTAKE
For older children, it’s estimated that around 20 per cent of total fluid intake comes from food. Fruits and vegetables, dairy products such as custard and yoghurt as well as foods cooked in water, such as pasta and rice, contain particularly high fluid levels. Providing a balanced diet will also help boost their water intake, with soups and smoothies a great way to provide extra fluid for littlies who are not too keen on plain water. You can also freeze water into ice blocks with a few berries or slices of kiwifruit popped in for colour.
Many parents complain that their children don’t like the taste of water, preferring their fluid to come from cordials or fruit juices. Generally, this is due to these fluids conditioning their tastebuds to prefer the sweet flavour, leaving water tasting bland and dull.
If this sounds familiar, start by watering down cordial and fruit juices until a minimal amount is required with the aim to remove them completely.
Kate Di Prima is a an accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for The Dietitians Association of Australia.