Why is Fluid Important?
A balance between fluid input and output is essential for good health and to prevent dehydration. Children up to the age of 2 years are almost entirely dependent on their caregivers to provide them with fluid. They may or may not tell you they are thirsty, so offering regular fluid is essential.
In the first six months your baby doesn’t need any drinks other than breast milk or formula – these contain enough liquid to stop dehydration, even in hot weather.
Once your baby has reached six months you can give him small amounts of cooled boiled tap-water or bottled water (pure water, not mineral water), if required.
Below are a few facts about fluids:
Infants and Toddlers:
- Infants under one year should only be given breast milk, formula or water. Any other fluids are not necessary or recommended.
- From six months you can give your baby small amounts of cooled boiled tap-water in hot weather and if he seems thirsty.
- Infants and toddlers don’t need fruit juice, or fizzy drinks, including mineral or soda waters.
- Soft drinks and herbal teas are not good for your baby or toddler.
- At 12 months you can give your toddler pasteurised whole cow’s milk.
- Reduced-fat milks are not recommended for toddlers or young children.
- Children need small drinks often.
- It’s a good idea to offer a drink every time a snack or meal is given.
- As very broad guideline; children need around one to 1.5 litres of fluid per day – this equals four to six glasses of water.
- Water is the best fluid a child should drink. Water is important for fluid balance and children should be encouraged to drink lots of it from a young age.
Water - Wonderful Water
Water is best…it has may health benefits and it quenches thirst without all the sugar and additives. Understandably, if sugary alternatives are freely available, your child will not accept plain water because they will have developed a taste for a sweetened drink.
The following tips may help to make water the fluid of choice for your child:
- Ensure water is freely accessible to your child - ensure your child has a good drink bottle.
- Offer water with all meals and snacks.
- Have water on the table at meal and snack times
- Keep chilled water in a jug in the fridge and add slices of lemon or orange or a sprig of mint
- If you are going to offer juice, offer it at one sitting NOT in a sipper or bottle that can be drunk throughout the day.
- In summer, freeze small pieces of chopped fruit in ice blocks and add these to water at snack and mealtimes
- Always take filled water bottles when you go out with your child.
Guide to Fluid Requirements
If you are concerned about your child's fluid intake, you may want to calculate how much liquid he should be receiving based on his size. The simplest method for determining fluid needs is the Holliday-Segar Calculation. This method bases fluid requirements on the child's weight, using the average requirement of 100 mL water for each 100 calories metabolised.
Please note - These calculations are a guide only and are not valid for newborns, children who are overweight, or older children nearing full adult size. Keep in mind also - children get fluids from both drinks and food. Below is a summary of fluid requirements using this method.
Fluid Requirements based on Holliday-Segar Method
Body Weight of Child
Water/Free Liquids Required
5 kg (11 lbs)
6 kg (13.2 lbs)
7 kg (15.4 lbs)
8 kg (17.6 lbs)
9 kg (19.8 lbs)
10 kg (22 lbs)
11 kg (24.2 lbs)
12 kg (26.4 lbs)
13 kg (28.6 lbs)
14 kg (30.8 lbs)
15 kg (33 lbs)
16 kg (35.2 lbs)
17 kg (37.4 lbs)
18 kg (39.6 lbs)
19 kg (41.8 lbs)
20 kg (44 lbs)
More than 20 kg
25 kg (55 lbs)
30 kg (66 lbs)
35 kg (77 lbs)
40 kg (88 lbs)
500 mL (16.67 oz)
600 mL (20 oz)
700 mL (23.33 oz)
800 mL (26.67 oz)
900 mL (30 oz)
1000 mL (33.33 oz)
1050 mL (35 oz)
1100 mL (36.67 oz)
1150 mL (38.33 oz)
1200 mL (40 oz)
1250 mL (41.67 oz)
1300 mL (43.33 oz)
1350 mL (45 oz)
1400 mL (46.67 oz)
1450 mL (48.33 oz)
1500 mL (50 oz)
1500 mL + 20 mL per kg over 20 kg
1600 mL (53.33 oz)
1700 mL (56.67 oz)
1800 mL (60 oz)
1900 mL (63.33 oz)
- Conversion Chart
1 kg = 2.2 lbs
30 mL = 1 oz
- For the first 10 kg of weight, a child needs 100 mL per kg of weight.
- For the next 10 kg of weight (11-20 kg), a child only needs 50 mL per kg of weight.
And for anything over 20 kg (21 kg of weight and higher), the child only needs 20 mL per kg of weight.
- Take a 35 kg child. He needs 1000 mL for his first 10 kg of weight (10 kg x 100 mL), 500 mL for his second 10 kg of weight (10 kg x 50 mL), and 200 mL for any weight above 20 kg (15 kg x 20 mL). A 35 kg child, therefore, needs approximately 1800mL of water or free liquids (liquid with all solids removed - ie milk solids, fruit pulp etc).
With encouragement, healthy children will accept water – particularly if milk and water are the only fluids offered.
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