How much water should a child drink?

Updated July 19, 2017

Water is the liquid of life and plays a critical role in ensuring the body functions correctly. It not only helps manages body temperature through perspiration and provides a mechanism to dispose of waste through urination, but it also transports nutrients absorbed by the digestive system to repair damaged cells and tissues. Children, especially, because of their small body mass and active nature, need plenty of water to avoid the risk of dehydration.


How much water children should consume on a daily basis depends on a variety of factors, including their height and weight, their level of activity and even the time of year if they are playing outdoors. Children often keep playing even after the twinge of thirst strikes, so during the summer there is an increased risk of dehydration.

The Facts

When trying to determine how much water your child should drink each day, paediatricians recommend them consuming half of their total body weight in ounces of water. For instance, the average 2-year-old weighing 12.7 Kilogram should drink almost two cups of water, or 397gr, and the average 6-year-old weighing 20.9 Kilogram should drink about three cups, or 680ml. A good indication that your child is drinking the appropriate amount of water is urine that is nearly or completely colourless.


Not all liquids are created equal. And not all liquids count toward the necessary daily water intake of a child. Carbonated sodas should be limited or avoided by little ones because of typically high caffeine levels that result in more frequent trips to the rest room and a higher risk of dehydration. Also, juice boxes often have sugar added, and too many can result in weight issues. Drinking skimmed milk or natural fruit juice does count toward daily water intake, but consuming an appropriate amount of plain water each day always ensures adequate hydration.


If the taste of water does not appeal to your child, there are several options available for parents to try. One of the easiest ways to get a child to drink water is to mix equal amounts of water and natural fruit juice together. Something else to try might be flavouring the water with juice squeezed directly from a lemon, orange or lime.


For years, medical experts have stuck by the rule that eight glasses of water per day was the best advice for everyone. But especially given vast differences in the way people live their lives today, there is no one answer that applies to all, especially when talking about children. They key is not to take chances. When in doubt, make sure your child drinks a cup of water with each meal and at least one other cup during the day.

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About the Author

April Silvaggio is an award-winning writer who has covered news in South Carolina for two decades. She holds a bachelor's degree from Winthrop University and did her graduate work at the University of South Carolina. Her work has appeared in The Greenville Journal, GSA Business, At Home, Today’s Physician, and Auctioneer.