Back to fact sheets
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

Fluid needs of children with cerebral palsy fact sheet

Fluid needs of children with cerebral palsy

It is important that your child drinks enough fluid for his or her body to function properly. Some children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty drinking enough fluid.

How much fluid does my child need each day?

  • This depends on your child’s age and how active they are.
  • Your child will need more fluid if they have a lot of saliva loss, if it is a hot day, if they have a fever or diarrhoea, or if they are very active.

What are good sources of fluid for children with cerebral palsy?

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Ice and ice blocks
  • Jelly
  • Yoghurt
  • Custard
  • Ice cream
  • Breast milk or Infant Formula for babies

How much fluid does my child need each day?

  • 0 – 6 months – 700 mL
  • 6 – 12 months – 800 mL
  • 1 – 3 years – 1000 mL
  • 4 – 8 years – 1200 mL
  • 9 – 13 years – 1600 mL
  • 14 – 18 years – 1900 mL

Source: NRV for Australia and New Zealand, NHMRC 2005.

What if my child needs to have thickened drinks?

Some children with cerebral palsy may need to have their drinks thickened due to swallowing difficulties.  Thickened drinks move more slowly and hold together better than thin drinks, giving the child more time to protect their airway and swallow safely. A speech pathologist will be able to advise on the appropriate fluid thickness for your child.

How do I tell if my child is not getting enough fluid?

If your child is not getting enough fluid they may have any of the following:

  • Strong smelling urine
  • Reduced number of wet nappies
    • infants should have about 6 – 8 wet nappies every day
    • older children should have about 4 – 5 wet nappies/trips to the toilet every day
  • Increased irritability or drowsiness
  • Dry skin, mouth and tongue
  • Constipation
  • Sunken eyes

My child has a gastrostomy, how much fluid does he/she need each day?

Children who have gastrostomies need the same amount of fluid as children who eat and drink orally

Some foods have a high fluid content which can help meet daily requirements. What is the fluid content of foods?

  • 1/2 cup jelly/custard – 100ml
  • 2 tbsp gravy/sauce – 40ml
  • 200g tub yoghurt – 160ml
  • 2 scoops of ice-cream – 40ml
  • 1 piece of fruit eg apple – 80ml
  • 2 tbsp gravy/sauce – 40ml
  • 1 cup cooked rice/pasta – 100ml
  • 1 cup porridge – 160ml

Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, NHMRC 2005.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland (2001). “Help me Grow”. Nutrition for Children with Cerebral Palsy. A guide for parents and carers. Booklet Department of Health & Ageing National Health and Medical Research Council, 2005, Nutrient Reference values for Australia and New Zealand. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra

Resource No: F201. Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: August 2015. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.