We all know how important water is for our health, especially in the summertime when we are at the highest risk for dehydration. But if you’re a parent, particularly of toddlers, you know how difficult it can be to get your children to drink anything less tasty than juice!
It is a fact, water is the best liquid we can drink for hydration at any time of the year; so much that The American Association of Pediatrics has recommended that children and teens drink water for hydration. They also recommend keeping a distance from drinks that have sugar and/or caffeine like energy drinks, sports drinks and sodas, since these are primary culprits for tooth decay. So when kids are less than thrilled to drink water during the hot summer days, and would rather gulp down a Capri Sun or some apple juice, try some of these tips to not only encourage your child to drink more water, but make it fun and taste great!
First and foremost… be a good role model!
Children imitate example more than they practice what they are told. If your children see you drinking your recommended 8 glasses of water a day, chances are, they will also!
Cold or Room Temperature?
Everything tastes better cold! Right? Not always. If your child has a tooth sensitivity, they may not enjoy the same ice cold water that you do. If this is the case, let water sit to room temperature and then try to give it to your child. On the other hand, many kids like cold water, especially when it is hot, Keep an accessible water dispenser, bottles, or a pitcher in the fridge so that your kids can access it when they are thirsty. Just be careful not to let small children have ice cubes since it can be a choke hazard.
Most fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, peaches, and raspberries already contain a mass amount of water in them. Oranges, grapefruit, and melons such as honeydew also contain a lot of water. Watermelons alone are made up of 90% water! Fruits like these can add a tasty twist to a plain cup of water, especially if you live in a city with unpleasant tap water. Freeze berries to make “ice cubes” for those hot days! You can even get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.
Like the above, put pieces of fruit in a popsicle tray (or use a dixie cup and a popsicle stick) and fill it with water. Let it freeze and serve to your kids like popsicles. You can even let the fruit stand for awhile prior to freezing and allow it to flavor the water.
Use fun cups and straws
This is especially effective for toddlers, give them water in a cup they love and you’re sure to see them drink up! Try a cute sippy, a cup with a crazy straw, or one that your child can decorate! You can actually use their favorite piece of artwork, a picture, or have them design something super special. Taking the time to sit with your child and decorate this cup will make it special for them and they will be apt to use it more! When you are at the store, let them pick out a cup they like and use it to give them water. Also, straws almost never fail! Kids love straws and they come in a wide variety of colors and shapes.
Make some bubbles
If your kids get a thrill from carbonated drinks such as soda and sparkling water, then make your own! Some kids may prefer sparkling to still water. Try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. You can also try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to it, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market.
All shapes and sizes
Get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.
Steer clear of drink mixes!
Try to avoid drink mixes since they tend to include a lot of added sugar, even those that are “sugar free” contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
Children love to have independence and learn to help themselves. Get little sippy-top water bottles to keep in the fridge on the door or bottom shelf where they can access them. Many kids thrive on given independence!
Limit the options
Limiting the choice of fluids in your home will help to keep your child from craving the sugary drinks. Water and milk are great options, and if you decide to have juice, half it with water, especially when introducing it to your toddler. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that juice is introduced to toddlers, and if you decide to introduce it to your baby, they should be at least 6 months and the juice should be 50/50 with water. Juice is not bad, but it should be an occasional treat since it has a lot of sugar. Have your child drink a small glass of water before they can have juice or other beverages, this way they have a little control and can decide when to drink.
Water is vital to our health, especially that of growing children. Keep you and your family hydrated this summer, without adding calories and sugar to their diet. If your child is particularly difficult about drinking water, make it a game! Offer them a prize, even if it is a little juice for every cup of water they drink up. Remind them that water is important to grow strong and make sure they see you drink plenty yourself! Cheers!