It’s a good idea to offer your child something to drink often, especially during warm weather, because young bodies can become dehydrated so easily. Children are also more likely than adults to ignore their thirst when they’re busy. In fact, by the time your child realises she’s thirsty, she’s probably already a little dehydrated.
In most cases, your child will ask for a drink before serious symptoms set in, but lack of fluids can make her tired or dizzy or give her a headache. (Unless your child is having severe vomiting or diarrhea, it’s unlikely that she has become dangerously dehydrated from not drinking enough.)
Getting plenty of liquids also helps regulate your child’s body temperature by allowing the body to sweat, helps prevent constipation by keeping the stool soft, and helps prevent urinary infections by flushing bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Just about any beverage – or even an ice pop or a juicy fruit like watermelon – can help slake a child’s thirst and keep her hydrated. But water is easier for the body to break down than other beverages, leading to less stress on the kidneys. And water is free of calories, sugar, fat, additives, and preservatives, so it’s a good first choice.
Children get an added benefit from drinking fluoridated water: It helps their teeth grow strong. Fluoride strengthens the outer coating of the teeth and makes teeth less susceptible to decay. It can also help repair damage to teeth. Fluoride even strengthens teeth that are growing in the gums, so if your child still has her baby teeth, getting enough fluoride helps to ensure the health of her adult teeth.
Here are some ways to make water more accessible and appealing to your child. Read our list of tips from other parents on how to get kids to drink more water.
• Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator (water often tastes better cold) and have your child drink from it at will.
• Keep bottles of water available so your child can easily grab one on her way to school or sports activities. (Note: Bottled spring water may not have fluoride in it.) Your child might enjoy having her own refillable, eco-friendly bottle instead.
• Set a good example and drink water instead of soda.
Parent tips: Water is crucial to a child’s health. It hydrates, helps regulate body temperature, and helps prevent constipation and urinary tract infections – all without adding calories or sugar to the diet. But what if your child doesn’t like water? See how other parents got their kids to drink up.
Make it available
When I think my child is thirsty, I hand her a water bottle. She often says she isn’t thirsty, but I ask her to drink five sips. Half the time she ends up drinking way more than that. Once she starts, she realises she is thirsty after all.
I always leave a sippy cup with water where my child can reach it so when she does get thirsty, she sees the cup and drinks. If she’s thirsty, she has no choice but to drink the water.
Make it fun
My child loves drinking ice water through a straw. I think he loves the cold feeling in his mouth and the sound of the ice clinking in the cup.
My toddler wouldn’t drink plain water for the longest time. So we bought that fizzy fruit-flavored water for her and mixed it with 3/4 water and weaned her onto regular water. Now she loves it!
Our city water has a bad taste, so I mix the smallest amount of juice with my daughter’s water and she’s none the wiser. It gives it a hint of flavor but is still 90 percent water!
You might also try putting a little lemon wedge or squeezing a little bit of fresh orange into it.
Use a special cup
When my daughter was almost two, she fell in love with princesses. We found BPA-free plastic sparkly goblets and told her she can only use them to drink “princess water,” which is just filtered water. Whenever we say, “Do you want princess water?” she always says yes so she can use the glasses. She is now threeand it still works!
Have them pick out their own special cup to put it in. Also, maybe have a special straw to use. The more they have ownership in the process, the better.