Are They Drinking the Right Stuff?

2. Pour and score

The Last Straw
Lisa Hubbard

For a few days, maintain a log of how much your child drinks. Note the beverage, the time it was consumed, and your child's appetite at the next meal. (If she attends daycare, request that her provider keep track for you.) Add up the total ounces for the day, and compare the amount to the chart entry for her weight. What did you find?

  • Just the right level. That's great news!
  • Coming up dry. If her intake is a few ounces low, don't sweat -- especially if she eats a lot of water-rich foods such as yogurt, pudding, produce, and soup. But if she falls far below the requirement, talk to her pediatrician because even mild dehydration can wreak havoc with the body. Plus, children can be dehydrated without feeling thirsty, says Dr. Cochran. Signs of mild dehydration are infrequent urination, dark urine, and a dry-looking tongue.
  • Drowning in drinks. If your child regularly exceeds her fluid requirement and drinks a lot of beverages besides water, chances are she's not eating enough. As a result, she's probably falling short on important minerals, like iron, zinc, and magnesium, that aren't found in most beverages, according to Dr. Baker. She may also suffer from frequent diarrhea. "I often see toddlers who drink more than 60 ounces of fluid a day. No developing GI tract can handle that amount," says Dr. Baker, a gastroenterologist at Children's Hospital of Buffalo. One caveat -- excessive thirst, especially when accompanied by frequent urination, weight loss, sunken eyes, and no tears when crying, can signal diabetes. Call your pediatrician immediately if your child experiences these symptoms.

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