Kidney stone disease in children is a major health concern. Childhood rates of stone disease have increased dramatically in the last 20 years.
There are multiple causes of kidney stones, including genetic conditions, environmental factors, and dietary habits. Kidney stones can lead to many health problems such as increased pain, lower quality of life, and the need for surgical interventions. Therefore, it is very important to effectively treat children who have kidney stones.
Drinking Water Is an Important Step in Preventing Kidney Stones
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent the progression of kidney stone disease. One of the most important treatments, regardless of the specific cause of kidney stones, is to drink a large amount to fluid each day. And water is typically all it takes. Fancy sports drinks aren’t needed and sweetened beverages, such as cola and punch, can actually be detrimental.
Parents often ask me how much their kids should be drinking each day to prevent kidney stones from forming. It’s different for every kid, and it can change for the same kid based the activity level and environment. The best way to judge if your kids are drinking enough is to look at their urine. If it’s dark yellow, they’re not getting an adequate amount to prevent kidney stones.
Calculating How Much Water Children Need
In general, here’s a quick, easy way to figure out the minimum daily volume for kids. I multiply six ounces by the child’s age in years. I usually max them out at 13 years, or 78 ounces. However, this should be considered as a starting point for adequate fluid intake, and higher quantities may be needed. In my experience, kids typically aren’t drinking enough each day, and parents are often challenged to find ways to increase fluid intake. So how can you help them drink more? Here are a few suggestions I relay to my patients and families:
4 EASY WAYS TO GET YOUR KIDS TO DRINK MORE WATER
1. HAVE IT READILY AVAILABLE
Children love independence. Allow them to get it themselves – either by a water dispenser on your fridge or in easy-to-reach dispense jugs on your counter. Kids who are too young to get the water themselves may enjoy having their own water bottle that they can grab off the table. You may just need to help them fill it up.
2. BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
If they see you drinking water, they’ll be more likely to do so as well. Everyone in the family can have their own water bottle to fill up throughout the day. If you’ll be out during the summer – freeze them overnight and you’ll have ice water ready, which will stay cooler outside.
3. LIMIT THEIR CHOICES
In an ideal scenario, children will drink water because it’s the only thing they’re used to drinking besides milk. Try to avoid giving them punch, soda, other sweetened beverages, or only as a treat on special occasions. In fact, these types of drinks can lead to a higher risk kidney stone formation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their recommendations related to juice. Children under one year of age should not drink any juice. For older children, the maximum daily intake of 100% juice products should be 4 ounces for children ages 1-3 years, 4-6 ounces for children ages 4-6 years and 8 ounces for those 7 years and older. There is also a very strong case for watering down the juice that children receive as well.
4. MAKE IT FUN
Drinking it doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to be flavorless. What we’re trying to prevent is added sugar, not added taste. Add fresh fruit to their water! Lemons, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, are all good choices. In fact, natural lemon juice may actually help prevent kidney stones from forming. You can add them straight to the water for taste, or freeze them in ice cubes for a splash of color and a delayed burst of flavor!
The multidisciplinary Stone Center at Cincinnati Children’s uses a collaborative approach for children and adolescents with stones in the urinary tract. Our pediatric urologists offer all forms of state-of-the art minimally invasive kidney and bladder stone treatments.