Glub glub…getting your child to drink water

Have you heard the news? Water is the body’s most essential nutrient. Water fuels more bodily functions than we can count, including regulating our body temperature, transporting oxygen and nutrients to cells, expelling waste, maintaining blood volume, and lubricating joints and tissues.

More than 25% of kids do not drink one drop of water on any given day! When your child doesn’t get enough water, he or she can develop muscle weakness, dry mouth, headaches, and fatigue.

As a parent, there is a lot to remember about keeping our kids healthy; often we neglect this most obvious key to good health. More than that, we need to set our kids up for healthy habits that they will carry into adulthood.
The amount of water your child needs will vary according to age, weight, gender, activity level, and even humidity. Tap or filtered water is a much better choice than fruit juices or soda. As a general guide, we need to help our kids get the following daily beverage goals:

Age Range Gender Total Water/Beverage (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years Girls and Boys 5
9 to 13 years Girls 7
Boys 8
14 to 18 years Girls 8
Boys 11

So, how can we get our kids to take a sip? Well, the short and sweet answer is to make it available, accessible, and appealing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Set the standard by making sure your child sees you drinking plenty of water.
  • A water cooler with 5 gallon jugs (like you might have at the office) is cheaper than you might think…and it makes it fun for your kids to serve themselves water any time. You can also keep self-serve water jugs with taps in your fridge.
  • Take your child to the store to pick out a water bottle (and an extra to keep at school) with ounce measurements. Use a sharpie to indicate their personal daily water goal according to the chart above.
  • Straws can really help the water go down easier Start a collection of fun, silly straws- you can even find mustache straws!
  • This weekend, have a “water war” at your house. See if each member of your family can reach their own personal water goal by dinner time. As a reward for meeting their goal, let your child lead the way on a family walk in the neighborhood.
  • Add a slice or two of fruit or cucumbers to make the water look and taste more interesting!
  • At dinner, serve water first, and when that cup is gone, they can have a cup of juice or chocolate milk.
  • Teach your child to be a pee detective- yup, that’s right! You and your child can tell how much water they have been drinking by looking at the color of their urine- too yellow? More water!

One last word of advice….Be sure to finish up most of the water-drinking at least one hour before bed time!

Anyone else have ideas to encourage our kids to up the H20? Leave your ideas and favorite tricks in the comments below!

A Toddler Drinking Water at Daycare