In summer, family time is often outdoor time. With so much quality time spent in the summer heat, staying hydrated is especially important. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, nausea, constipation, headaches and more. While other drinks can hydrate, nothing works like water. Besides keeping you cool, it also aids digestion, lubricates joints, flushes toxins and nourishes organs.
Keeping kids hydrated when they don’t have a taste for water can sometimes feel impossible, but we have tips to trick the palate. Before we explain how to get kids to drink water, let’s start with the basics. Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) says ideally, children should drink one cup of water for each year of age. For example, a one-year-old should drink one cup of water. Children eight years and up should drink eight cups a day.
But if your child avoids drinking water, don’t despair! Here are some tasty tips to get them hydrated.
How to Get Kids to Drink Water
1. Make it yummy
Many kids don’t like water’s neutral taste, so add a splash of flavor (and fun!) to your children’s water. You’ll find them reaching for a glass more often. Add cucumbers, lemon wedges, strawberries, orange slices or mint sprigs to your water pitcher, and keep it in the fridge. Let the kids help!
2. Play the “water flavor guessing game”
Experiment with different foods as flavoring. Drop the foods into an opaque water pitcher. Let each family member drink a glass and guess the ingredient. The person who wins gets a fun prize or bragging rights!
3. Eat your water
Hydrate in whatever way works! Cucumbers, watermelon, celery and grapefruit are great summer snacks high in water content to quench the thirst. Keep these juicy snacks on hand for those extra hot days.
4. Frozen water fun
Cut bite-sized pieces of fruit and freeze. Keep them frozen in a bowl or ice cube tray available for the kids to add to their waters as they please. Other frozen-fruit ideas include placing small fruits in the ice-cube tray and filling with water. These frozen fruit cubes are fun! Little ones can watch the ice melt as they drink. For a splash of flavor, pour 100% fruit juice into the ice cube tray.
5. Baby steps to big gulps
If your kiddos still aren’t drinking or if they’re more accustomed to flavored drinks, help them adjust their palate at a slower pace. Start their transition to water by filling their cups with a mixture of equal parts 100% fruit juice and water. Each week, decrease the amount of juice. Before you know it, they’ll only need a splash of juice for flavor.
6. Play with temperature
Some kids might be more inclined to drink water if it’s cold. There’s nothing better than ice-cold water on a hot summer day. Other kids might enjoy water if it’s at room temperature. Experiment to help your child find their preferences.
7. Make water your one and only
Stick with water as the primary beverage in your household. Keeping fruit juice and other drinks for special occasions not only puts water front and center, but it also allows time for little taste buds to adjust to a new normal without regular reminders of the sweet stuff.
8. Make it playful
Make the experience of drinking more engaging. Let your kids pick out their own reusable water bottles, tumblers and drink cups. Reusable straws in different shapes and colors are also fun. They’ll gain pleasure in using their new cups and feel ownership in the choice to drink water.
9. Show them how it’s done
Model the behavior you hope to see in your children. Keep your water bottle close, and show them the hydration habits you’re eager to share. When you walk the walk, they’re likely to follow.
10. Make it easy
If water is readily available, children are more likely to drink. Bring your children’s water bottles on outings, whether to run errands, play at the park or visit friends and family. When in the house, leave their water cups in places where they hang out. One in the kitchen, playroom, living room and bedroom. Point out the cups and remind them to drink a few sips here or there. Let them see you do the same! Before you know it, it will become a habit.