Getting Your Kids to Drink More Water
The other day, as I was drinking my water, I was trying to think about the beverages I drank when I was a child. I remember when I was about five years old, that my sister and I were treated to a Coke occasionally on a Saturday night. This would have been a small bottle, like 6 or 8 ounces. I did not like milk and my family did not really drink juice. We sometimes had Kool-Aid in the summer. So I turned into a water-drinker.
When my children were growing up, I was concerned about them not having too much caffeine. We didn’t have soda in the house except for ginger ale. But I did succumb to letting them have non-soda flavored drinks, which meant too much sugar or artificial sweetener. One was a milk-drinker; one was not. As they grew, we talked about how bad the extra sugar and the sweeteners are, and so they, too, became water-drinkers.
The time to start turning your children to water is when they are babies. Until they are 6 months old, children do not need any extra water—they should just be drinking breast milk or formula. They should also not be given any juice, unless the doctor recommends that it be given for constipation. Even the “no sugar added” juices contain way too much sugar. Introduce small amounts of water after 6 months, and put the water into a special, attractive cup. You can call the water something special, like “pony-princess water” or “Superman water”. If you hold the water in high regard, then your children will, too!
Many parents say that their children won’t drink plain water, or that they don’t like plain water. Beware—you know that kids will often hold out for something they like better. They know that mom and dad want them to have something to drink and they know that if they don’t drink the water then they will eventually get a sugary drink. Be firm in your resolve! And, set an example for your children. You can’t expect them to drink water when they see their parents drinking soda. Always have the family order water to drink when eating out. This saves money as well as calories!
Always have water available to your child. If they say they are hungry and want a snack, have them drink a cup of their “special water” first, and make sure they finish the whole cup. Many times when we think we are hungry, our bodies are actually thirsty instead! Let them choose a new water cup occasionally, or give them a new cup or water bottle as a birthday or holiday gift. Make sure that the container is an appropriate size for your child to hold. Many kids like drinking through straws. Try to find a reusable straw, as the disposable ones can contain BPA (shown to cause cancer) are also very bad for the environment.
You can put a water dispenser in your refrigerator, on a low shelf, and show your children how they can get their own water when they are old enough.
Another idea that makes drinking water fun is to freeze fruit in ice cube trays, and put it into their water. Some kids are happy with just plain ice. If your tap water is not crystal clear, consider investing in a water filtration system at the sink or just buy a pitcher with a filter and keep it in the refrigerator.
If your kids are already juice or other sweetened beverage drinkers, you may have luck with gradually adding more and more water to their other drinks. They will lose the taste for sweet drinks eventually. Beware of the chocolate and strawberry milks offered at school. With most school lunch programs, the children have to pay extra for a bottle of water, because without the milk the lunch is not considered “a complete meal”. Most school lunches are loaded with sugar, salt, and carbohydrates. The best thing to do, even though it requires extra effort, is to pack a lunch for your child with their own special water bottle. Most people notice how much better they feel when they are adequately hydrated. Young children should drink about four 8-oz. cups of water a day, and older children should have about eight 8-oz. cups a day. You know you are drinking enough water when your urine is almost clear!
Your child will see other kids drinking their brightly-colored sports drinks and sodas, and they will probably want some also. Talk with them about why your family does not consume these beverages. You must let your children know, on a regular basis, just how bad these drinks are for their bodies. Explain to them how much their bodies need water. All body functions require adequate amounts of water—your joints and muscles, your heart, and even your brain so that you can think clearly. Sodas contain high amounts of acid, artificial colors and flavors, and calories! Sports drinks contain WAY too much salt and sugar. But the kids see their favorite sports team members drinking it!
It’s hard to keep your children from consuming beverages that are harmful to them, but keep at it! Water is the way to go!
Your children will thank you!
Blessings to you,