Function of Water in the Body
Water is our most critical nutrient and needs to be your child’s beverage of choice. Water is the largest single component of the body. Overall, our bodies comprise around 50 – 70 % water. Some parts, for example our brain, can be up to 85% water.
Water provides the medium in which oxygen, nutrients and waste products are transported throughout the body, through which metabolic biochemical reactions occur, through which body temperature is regulated, and how blood pressure and blood volume (85% water) is maintained. These vital functions cannot occur without adequate fluids.
Water is also a solvent, a lubricant (e.g. joints) and a protective cushion (e.g. spinal fluid). It is vital for all mucous membrane integrity preventing congestion and for proper elimination preventing constipation. Nerve and brain cells and function also require adequate water. Even mild dehydration can cause mood alterations, headaches, irritability and poor concentration. Is you picky eater irritable and picky due to poor hydration perhaps?
Children’s bodies don’t cool down as efficiently as adults so are more at risk of dehydration during summer and hot weather. Taking a few simple steps can ensure your child always stays well hydrated and enjoys summer fun safely.
Don’t wait until your child is thirsty before offering a drink. Kids can get caught up in their activities and are easily distracted and immersed in their games. Offer water frequently and them into the habit early by offering drinks frequently during activity and especially during hot weather.
How can you tell if your child is getting enough fluid?
Children will need around 60ml of pure water per 1kg of body weight. This is best taken in small amounts throughout the day.
Try to ensure that the water you offer is pure. Invest in a good quality water filter, preferably one that is able to filter out chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride that are often added to urban water supplies.
Allow your child free access to water, especially in hot weather or when running around a lot so they are less likely to become dehydrated.
Ways to Help Children Drink Adequate Amounts of Pure Water:
- Have a cup or bottle of water on their play table or a place that is easily accessible at all times
- Have bottles of water ready to take with you on outings
- Keep a jug of filtered water in the fridge
- Add slices of lemon, orange or lime and/or a few mint leaves to a jug of filtered water. This makes it more interesting and the addition of the citrus assists in hydration
- Freeze small pieces of fruit or mint leaves in ice blocks and add these to cups and jugs of water.
Other ways to improve hydration:
- Include high water content foods in their daily meals. Fruit and vegetables contain 80 to 98 percent water. Eating dense vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, spinach or celery with a meal or snack is an easy way to improve hydration.
- Offer fruit with a high water content an excellent source of fluid as well as being a nutritious snack. Watermelon is a great example (contains 92 percent water, 8 percent natural sugar, plus essential electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, rich in Vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene) Most kids love it. Offer bite size pieces to little ones or a large chunk to older kids. Blended and frozen into an ice block or popsicle or cut into interesting shapes should appeal to all and especially that picky kid. Pineapple, mango, kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, mandarin and orange can be used in similar ways.
- Coconut water (95 percent water & only found in young coconuts) is great for hydration and may be something novel for a picky kid.
- Clear, broth based soups especially when made with vegetables offers an ideal way to get liquid into a diet along with good nutrients.
Do you have any hints and tips on how you keep your family hydrated?