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hydration tips for your kids

Although plain drinking water is a clear choice for proper hydration, it's not the only option.

Tips

Other beverages such as milk, juice, sports drinks and soft drinks—and even moist foods such as fruits and vegetables—help meet the body's water needs.

Your children’s daily hydration needs will vary depending on their ages, genders and physical activity levels; the temperature outside; and their health, including whether they have a temperature. Generally, healthy kids who aren’t involved in rigorous physical activity or sports get enough water by drinking when they’re thirsty and eating a balanced diet.

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Tap into these hydration tips to help your kids drink up for good health.

Keep fluids flowing. Offer smaller amounts of beverages throughout the day, rather than large amounts at one time. Hydration tip: Be mindful of the beverages you choose. Those with added sugars and calories, but few other nutrients, should be occasional choices.

Make fluids fun. For younger kids, serve beverages in colorful glasses and use crazy-shaped loopy straws.

Let kids pick their own water bottles. They’ll be more excited about carrying beverages to school, sports and other activities. Hydration tip: To keep beverages chilled, freeze half of the fluid in the bottle overnight, then top it off in the morning.

Use caution when it’s hot outside, especially for active kids. In high temperatures, kids don’t sweat as much as adults do, so it’s harder for them to cool off. This puts them more at risk for dehydration. When kids are playing outside on hot days, head off problems by making sure they drink fluids before, during and after activity. As a guideline, encourage at least 4 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes, or whenever there’s a break or time-out. Hydration tip: One ounce equals about two "sips."

Take care when it’s cold, too. Kids who play winter sports or play actively outside in cold, dry environments may sweat, especially when wearing lots of layers or protective gear. So follow the same fluid guidelines as for hot weather.

Slip in watery foods. Remember to serve soups and juicy fruits and veggies such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, lettuce, watermelon, oranges, grapes, peaches and strawberries. Sweet treats made with water such as Jell-O Gelatin or frozen fruit pops such as our Frosty Strawberry Pops are great, too.

Offer flavored fluids. Kids who shun plain water may readily drink flavored beverages. Juice drink pouches, such as Capri Sun 100% Juice or Kool-Aid Jammers, are popular and easily stowed in backpacks. Powdered “on-the-go” drink mixes such as Kool-Aid Singles or ready-to-drink beverages are handy options. Hydration tip: You can also add lemon, lime or orange slices to water to flavor it naturally.

Guidelines for adequate daily water intake for kids. The chart below shows approximately how much water kids of different ages and genders need daily for proper hydration. Water can come from beverages such as drinking water, milk and juice, and from foods. Physically active kids need more water, especially in higher temperatures.

Age Group Total Water
(approx. cups)
Water from Beverages
(approx. cups)
Water from Foods
(approx. cups)
Children 1 - 3 5 ½ 4 1 ½
Children 4 – 8 7 5 7
Girls 9 – 13 9 7 2
Boys 9 – 13 10 8 2
Girls 14 – 18 10 8 2
Boys 14 – 18 14 11 3
hydration tips for your kids
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