What do kiddos, plants and puppies have in common? They all need water to survive. In fact, all living things need water to survive. That’s because water flushes waste, regulates temperature and helps brain function. It’s what our cells need and it’s key to good overall and oral health.
We get most of our water from drinking beverages, but food also contains a small amount of water. So, it makes sense that making a healthy swap like a sparkling water for a soda is a good idea. But kids aren’t the best at doing what’s best for them. And when kids beg for juice or soda it’s easy for parents or caregivers to give in if they don’t understand how important water is for overall health.
How much water should kids drink?
The amount of water a child needs on a daily basis will vary based on their age and weight. Other things like outside temperature, activity level and the child’s health are also factors. Overall, kids typically need 7 or more cups of water each day.
Total Water (Cups/Day)
Chart adapted from https://www.eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/hydrate-right/water-go-with-the-flow
Keep in mind that some water intake also comes from healthy fruits and vegetables. Watermelon is 92% water, making it one of the most hydrating foods you can eat. And kids usually love it! (Check out our watermelon slush recipe for a cool, hydrating treat!)
Why is water good for kids’ oral health?
Drinks that contain a lot of sugar, like fruit-flavored juices or sodas, can fuel cavity-causing bacteria in kids’ mouths. Luckily, water doesn’t contain one single sugar bug, making it the best way for kids to stay hydrated. When kids sip on water, it washes away food in the mouth and leaves nothing behind for bacteria to feast on. It can also help break down acid in the mouth that destroys tooth enamel.
Water is the main component of saliva, which is important for breaking down solid food and washing away left-over food from eating. With regular fluid intake, the body can produce the right amount of saliva to keep the mouth healthy and free of debris.
Just like adults, kids need vitamins and minerals—like calcium, iron, and B Vitamins—for good oral health. These nutrients work together to reduce inflammation and promote healing within the mouth. Drinking water helps break down food that contains these nutrients so the body can digest and absorb them better.
Help kids drink more water each day
Whether your kiddo is a dream listener or puts up the good fight at mealtime, it’s important to help them aim to get the right amount of water each day. Here are some ways to help them hydrate:
- Pick out a fun water bottle. Letting your kid pick out a cool, reusable bottle from the store makes them feel in control and let’s them exercise their personality.
- Make it a game. Keep track of how much water they’re drinking by turning it into a family competition. There are also kid-friendly apps like Plant Nanny that help kids track how much water they’re drinking each day.
- Flavor with fruit. If plain water is a little too boring, get festive with fruit. Plop a few blueberries, strawberries or citrus slices into your child’s water bottle. You can also make fancy fruit ice cubes by freezing berries in the ice cube tray.
Fun facts about H2O
Kids are small but their brain power is mighty, and they love gathering factoids. Here are some awesome water facts you can share with them to keep their minds engaged and learning about the effects of water on their bodies:
- Water makes up 60% of their body weight.
- Drinking water with fluoride, nature’s cavity fighter, strengthens teeth.
- A person can live for a month without food, but only a week without water.
- Human bones are 31% water.
- We lose 64 ounces of water each day through sweat.
For more tips on children’s oral health, check out these other blog articles:
- 5 Teething Milestones During Your Baby’s First Year
- Does Your Child Really Need to See a Pediatric Dentist?
- Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe for Babies?
- Watch Cavities Form Before Your Eyes: A DIY Craft for Kids