Proper hydration helps to keep these organs functioning.

Q: I’ve heard drinking water is important for healthy kidneys. Why is that, and how much should my child be drinking? 

A: You’re right. Drinking plenty of water each day is key to keeping your kidneys and your body healthy. To understand why it’s important, it helps to know what the kidneys’ function is. Kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. We like to think of them as your body’s garbage collectors. They filter and remove waste products, such as salt and toxins, from the blood. Without your kidneys, these substances would build up in the blood and reach dangerous levels.

One of the easiest ways to keep your kidneys healthy is by drinking plenty of water. On average, school-aged children and teens should be drinking six to eight cups of fluids each day. Consumption is lower for younger children, but amounts will vary based on activity level.

Drinking that much water is easier said than done, so here are a few tips to help increase your child’s water intake:

Add fruit. Some kids crave a little more flavor in their water, so adding fresh or frozen fruit to a glass can help. Lemon, lime and berries are all delicious options. Make drinking water fun. For younger kids, a fun bottle or a silly straw can keep them coming back for more water throughout the day. For older kids, tracking fluid consumption through a mobile app may do the trick. Eat your water. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers and lettuce are all great options. Set a good example. No matter their age, your kids look up to you. If they see you drinking water, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

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Hiren Patel, M.D., is the section chief of nephrology and medical director of the kidney transplant program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.