The importance of children staying hydrated to maximise their potential

Oct 2012
Staying hydrated is key for children realising their potential
Staying hydrated is key for children realising their potential

The human body is comprised of 60-80% water, depending on the age and sex of the person, so we are often told it is important to consume enough water to avoid this level dropping. But why is it so important to keep hydrated and how can this impact your child's performance?

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, expert in chronic dehydration, states: "The most important life-giving substance in the body, and the one that the body desperately depends on, is water. The body is comprised of approximately 75% water and is found both outside and inside the cells, and is the basis for all bodily fluids."

Water serves numerous vital functions such as maintaining cell structure, waste removal, and distribution of nutrients, oxygen and immune cells. Water also plays a leading role in stabilising body temperature. Hydration has been associated with energy levels and physical endurance, as well as concentration and focus. To enable our children to get the most out of every day, staying hydrated is therefore very important.

Children are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated because a child's body is less effective at perspiring and produces more heat during physical exertion. Children also tend to be more physically active than adults, resulting in a greater loss of bodily water.

As we get wrapped up in an activity or task it is easy to forget to consume enough water, especially as a child. Children can often find consuming water difficult as it lacks flavour. Here are a few tips for helping to keep your child hydrated, so they can maximise their potential each day.

  • Offer a variety of drinks but limit caffeinated beverages as very large quantities can have a diuretic effect, causing an increase in urination.

  • If your child prefers fruit juices, try gradually diluting them with water.

  • Many fruits are high in water volume so offering a fruit salad for desert or as a snack can help increase water intake. Soups and stews can also have similar benefits.

  • Protein requires additional liquid to metabolise so reducing meat intake can help with hydration levels.

  • Be a good role model; the more your child observes you drinking the more likely they are to copy your behaviour.

  • Introduce a drinking routine. If your child regularly forgets to drink water, having a routine in place to ensure a glass of water is consumed at least first and last thing in the day, at meal times and pre/post exercise may help.

  • Your child's school and extra-curricular activities may have a hydration policy in place. Check if your child can bring shatter-resistant containers of water with them and ensure to ask them how much they are drinking each day.