Hydration in infancy and childhood
At birth, the total body water content is as high as 75%. It decreases during the first year of life in childhood to reach 60% at adult age.
Compared to adults, infants not only have a higher body water content, but also a higher surface area-to-body mass ratio, a higher rate of water turnover¹, a limited ability to excrete solutes, and a lower ability to express thirst. For these reasons, dehydration in infants is more quickly life threatening than for children or for adults.
However, because of the low potential renal solute load of human milk, healthy ad libitum breast-fed infants do not need additional water, even under conditions of high environmental temperature².
Water requirements increase with age. Adequate Intakes for infants and children have been defined by the EFSA in 2012 and are summarized in the table below:
EFSA recommended adequate fluid intakes in children²
As part of their nutritional education, children should be taught how to drink in a healthy way: attention should be paid to allow children good access to water throughout the day.
Encouraging children to favor non-caloric beverages such as water should be a component of broader advice on lifestyle and nutrition. A study recently conducted in Germany has shown that a simple intervention with the sole focus of promoting water consumption effectively prevented overweight among children in elementary schools³.
A recent study demonstrated that increased water intake improves cognitives performance in children, more here.
- Visit Splash! En educational program by Danone Research aimed at promoting the hydration reflex in a fun and creative way.
- Download pedagogic infographic here.
- Dive in Water intake and hydration physiology during childhood in a dedicated monography