Sunday, March 7, 2010

Liquid Needs for Children

In the next room over I hear my toddler son requesting for a "deen". Translation = drink. If I let him, he would graze all day with a cup in his hand...not a good habit to create. Especially since he is at the low end of the chart on weight for his age. And I notice that the days I inadvertently give him too much liquid, he doesn't eat as much. So, I try to stick to liquids at meals and snacks, and other sips here and there.

One thing I get asked alot at work is "How much liquid does my child need?".
Well, that's a great question. If kids are eating lots of fruits and vegetables, then fluid is in those foods as well. So, it's not as simple as saying how many ounces of fluid should be in their cups. It can be a fine line. Don't give the child enough fluids and they get dehydrated...especially in the hot, summer months. Give the child too much fluids and the result is more difficulty with potty training and the child eating less food. This sounds like a trivial issue for some people, but for the kids I work with that have special needs, it can be a complicated topic. Many of them have a diagnosis of "failure to thrive" with the threat of a feeding tube hanging over their heads. In these cases, the parents and caregivers are counting every calorie. Especially for my little ones preparing for heart surgery who are burning calories at a faster rate than typical.

The rule of thumb is: 2-2.5 oz of fluid per pound of body weight is needed for an infant and 1-1.5 oz of fluid per pound of body weight is needed for children. The differences are due to toddlers and older kids eating table food, in which many foods have fluids within them. Examples include apples, soup, tomatoes, etc.

Now this is not always the case. Some of the kiddos that I work with are on high calorie formula and may not take in as many ounces of liquid for various reasons. Also, babies with severe infant reflux may spit out alot of liquid...this can be a fine line too, because if these babies are overfed to make up for the fluid loss, then they will just spit it up again!

Well, there is not a simple answer in terms of how much exactly a child's cup should contain and how many times a day. But, hope this entry helps give a baseline!

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