How Much Water Do Active Kids Need to Stay Healthy?

Water is one of the nutrients your body needs most. In fact, people have survived as long as six weeks without food, but no one can last longer than about a week without water.

Water is the cornerstone that powers almost every bodily function, including brain function. It’s the most abundant substance in the body, averaging 60 percent of body weight. It helps keep body temperature constant at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and it transports nutrients and oxygen to all cells and carries waste products away. Water helps maintain blood volume, and it helps lubricate joints and body tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes and nose.

How Much Water Do Kids Need?

The daily amount of water that a child needs depends on factors such as age, weight and sex. Air temperature, humidity, activity level and a person’s overall health affect daily water requirements, too. The chart below can help you identify about how many cups of water your child or teen needs each day. These recommendations are set for generally healthy kids living in temperate climates; therefore, they might not be exact for your child or teen.

Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements

Age Range                   Gender              Total Water (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years                 Girls and Boys     7
9 to 13 years                Girls                      9
                                      Boys                      10
14 to 18 years             Girls                      10
                                      Boys                      14

Data from Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Tables. Recommended Daily Allowance and Adequate Intake Values: Total Water and Macronutrients.

Getting Enough Water Into Your Kid’s Diet

The amount of water that your child or teen needs each day might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the recommendations in the chart are for total water, which includes water from all sources: drinking water, other beverages and food.

Fruits and vegetables have a much higher water content than other solid foods. This high water content helps keep the calorie level of fruits and vegetables low while their nutrient level remains high — another great reason for kids to eat more from these food groups.

One challenge many parents face is that kids of school age are on their own most of the day, and you just can’t be there to monitor what they drink. Ideally teachers and other adults at their school would, but that is rarely the case. Add to this the fact that the older they get the busier their school schedules get and it’s all too easy for kids NOT to get enough water during the day.

Even though you can’t be there, there are some ways you can help. Stress to your child the importance of remaining hydrated. Remind young athletes that a lack of hydration will affect their performance. Provide them with a reusable water bottle and make sure it’s full and in their backpack before they head out of the door.

Stress the importance of taking frequent drinks from the water bottle – between classes, during and after lunch – and if your kid reports that drinking water at school is hard – some do – step in and speak with their teacher. Proper hydration is too important to your child’s health not to.