Children sometimes drink more and sometimes less. If the child is feeling well otherwise, the body adjusts so that the child drinks when needed. Children get fluid through both drink and food. Sometimes more fluid is needed, for example in the case of stomach ailments. If the child drinks very much and still continues to be thirsty, you should seek care.
Young children need more fluid in relation to body weight than teenagers and adults. The body of a newborn child consists of 70 percent water, a child who is one year consists of 60 percent water. This can be compared to an adult body consisting of 50 to 55 percent water. These differences explain why, especially, children younger than one year are so sensitive to fluid loss, and that the child can quickly become ill.
If the child is feeling well otherwise, the body regulates the fluid need with the help of the thirst. Often children can understand and say that they are thirsty from three to four years of age. When they do not understand and can tell themselves, you need to make sure they get fluid.
So much fluid needs children
Children need to replace the liquid they dispose of per day. This is especially important for young children. Children get fluid through both drink and food.
Newborns need to eat at least six times a day to get enough fluid. If you change diapers about six times a day, the diaper should be reasonably heavy every time you change.
A child weighing 10 kilos needs about one liter of fluid a day to replace the fluid that disappears with urine, feces, exhalation and sweat. A child weighing about 15 kilos needs about 1.25 liters of fluid per day. A child weighing 20 kilos needs 1.5 liters per day, and a child weighing around 40 kilos needs almost two liters of fluid per day.
Water or milk best drink
For children, water or milk is the best drink for meals. Water is best as a drink between meals. Sweet drinks between meals and to quench thirst are also not good from a nutritional point of view and increase the risk of caries.
When children drink too little
Young or sick children may not always feel thirsty or quench their thirst on their own, and then you need help. Signs that the child is getting too little fluid are, among other things, that the child pauses less, is lethargic and becomes dry on the lips and mouth.
More fluid in case of illness
The child needs more fluid than usual when it is very hot, when the child is very moving, has diarrhea, vomits or has a fever. For each degree of fever, fluid requirements increase by ten percent. This means that with a 40 degree fever, a child weighing 10 kilos needs 1.3 liters of fluid instead. If the fluid that disappears is not covered up, the child may experience fluid deficiency or dehydration.
If the child loses a lot of fluid through vomiting and diarrhea, it is important to replace it. It is then good to give liquid compensation, which is available at pharmacies. The fluid replacement composition causes the fluid balance to be restored faster. You should give fluid replacement in small portions at frequent intervals.
If it’s hot
If you are traveling to warmer countries with children, it is good to think a little extra about the fluid need. Children younger than one year are more easily affected by heat because they have difficulty regulating body temperature. Children who are fully cured usually cover the increased need for fluid by wanting to breastfeed more and need nothing else to drink. Children who receive breast milk replacement may receive extra such. They can also get water.
If you are in a hot climate abroad, and there has been a big change in temperature for the child, it is good to know that the body needs to get used to the heat gradually. It usually takes about a week. Children under one year should not stay in direct sunlight but be protected from strong heat.
When children drink too much
Some children want to drink very often, even when they should not be thirsty. It can eventually become a behavior that can be an expression of worry and stress. If the child is old enough, it is good to ask if the child is really thirsty. It is also good that the child kisses before going to bed, and that the child avoids drinking just before it’s time to sleep.
You should pay attention to whether the child needs to drink a lot or start peeing. If children and adolescents start drinking so much that they have to pee and pee at night, or pee in bed again after being dry, it may be symptoms of type 1 diabetes. The child also usually loses weight.
If you have questions about whether a child drinks too much or too little, you can contact the child care center, student health or a health care center.
You should seek care at a health care center or pediatric clinic if
- the child regularly is thirsty even at night
- the thirst interferes with the child’s daily activities
- the child begins to pee after being dry
- the child is tired, loses weight, has a headache and is irritated.
You should seek care directly at a health care center or emergency room if a toddler pauses little or nothing at all and is lethargic.