Getting children to drink enough is a big issue and a common one, especially when they are young. Mine often say they are not thirsty when I ask them to get a drink. If you struggle to get your child to drink more water then there are lots of ways to encourage them to drink.
Here I will give you 11 tricks to try and help your child get enough water throughout the day. This will ensure they stay hydrated and help prevent problems like constipation and UTI’s.
Why is drinking important?
Our bodies are made up of 70% water so getting enough fluid is important to maintain our health and wellbeing. (1)
We lose water through breathing, sweating and digestion and it therefore needs to be replaced regularly throughout the day. Keeping well hydrated is also important to help with concentration, particularly learning if at school or nursery.
What should my child be drinking?
Ideally water but if they struggle with that then you can offer diluted sugar free squash sometimes.
They can also drink milk but limit this to no more than 500mls or 1 pt per day, as this can cause constipation or make it worse (2).
What should my child not be drinking?
It’s not a good idea to give caffeinated drinks to children such as caffeinated tea, coffee or energy drinks. This is because the caffeine in them can have undesirable side effects.
Fizzy drinks are not great either because of the sugar content and the gas can fill them up so they eat less at mealtimes.
How much water does your child need to drink in a day?
The exact amount of water your child should drink each day depends on their age, weight and how active they are that day. If they have been very active that day then they will need to drink more.
As a general guidance, this infographic shows some recommendations for different ages.
As guidance, a cup or medium sized glass is 200ml (1)
11 Ways to get your child to drink more water
By making a routine of drinking it is more likely to become a habit. For example if you include 1 drink at mealtime and 1 at snack times this will ensure a schedule of around 6 drinks a day.
2. Fun bottle
Find a cool bottle, beaker or cup they like to drink from. They are more likely to drink from that than a plain glass cup. It could be themed or have their favourite character on.
Invest in some fun straws, they could be fancy colours, shapes like coiling.
4. Ice cubes
Make some ice cubes, you could do these in fun shapes too and add to their drinks. Somehow this makes drinking more enticing.
5. Add some fruit or veg slices
Add some fruit or vegetable pieces (e.g lemon, orange, cucumber, strawberry, mint etc). They will love the novelty of this and may even eat the pieces too. They could be fresh or for ease you could buy some ready frozen pieces.
6. Drinking games
Depending on the age of the child different sorts of games could work. For very young children, you could try tea parties or giving drinks to teddies and then themselves. For older children asking them to drink in a competitive way, like against yourself to see who can finish it first. Children like to win!
7. Add lines to their bottle
You can buy drinks bottles with time lines on to monitor drinking throughout the day or you could get a sharpie pen and do it yourself. Its a great way to visually see how much they have drunk and where they need to get to.
8. Make some jellies
Try making some sugar free jellies with a cup of water. Portioned out this way you know this makes one drink (200ml). Include it as a pudding and they won’t realize they are drinking.
9. Try a wobble watch
Wobble watches are kids watches that can be set at times to vibrate during the day. If you set them for every two hours this could remind them to take a drink, especially if they are at school or nursery its a great reminder for them to drink.
10. Make water easily available
Having water easily available for them to help themselves can be great for little ones as they will love this independence. You could do this with a lidded jug on the kitchen table they can reach alongside some cups. Or you could invest in a small water dispenser with a little tap they can help themselves to.
11. Include high water content foods
If you can include foods in their diet that have lots of water this will up their fluid intake. So foods like smoothies, soups and jellies, ice lollies all include lots of water.
Recipes that will help your child to drink more water
- Soups – Spinach and pea soup (AKA green soup)
- Ice lollies like these watermelon ones
- Iced fruit smoothies – blend some frozen whole fruits up like mango and apple and add some ice cubes to get extra fluid in.
- Jellies – use some no sugar fruit juice with some gelatin to make a sugar free jelly.
References on request
If you try some of these tricks to get them to drink more then I am pretty sure drinking will become more of a regular routine. If you’re also looking to get simple, step-by-step strategies for feeding your toddler so that you can have stress free mealtimes, check out my managing fussy eating course!