Do you struggle with getting your kids to drink enough water throughout the day? As a fellow mom, I understand how difficult it can be to keep your kids healthy and hydrated. Whether it’s the middle of the hot, hot summer, or the frigid cold winter, there are many reasons it can be tricky to get your kids to drink enough water.
Here, I’ve compiled some tips for getting your kids motivated to drink more water and even make it fun! One of these ideas is to encourage your kids to track their water intake. You can even download a FREE Kid’s Water Tracker at the bottom of this post!
Table of Contents
- Why do my kids need to drink water?
- How much water should my child be drinking every day?
- What to do when your kids WON’T drink water
- Ideas to make drinking water fun!
- Dress it up!
- Serve it silly!
- Water Challenge
- Track water consumption
- Set a timer
- The 10 Gulp Rule
- Personalized cups or water bottles
- Keep it handy!
- Serve them foods high in water content
- Be a water role model
- Why is it so important?
- How to water-down your toddler’s juice
Summertime is sweatin’ time.
In the summer, kids are active and busy. As parents, we’re usually driving them from activity to activity. Or perhaps your kids love to ride their bikes around the neighborhood with friends all summer.
Water-loss can be very high in the hot temperatures, due to perspiration (sweating) and more physical activity.
The winter season has its own hydration challenges.
On the other hand, many kids (and adults) tend to drink less water in the winter months because there are fewer visible reminders. With the cooler temperatures, we don’t sweat as much and we feel cool, so our thirst response (feeling thirsty) diminishes.
So you can see, no matter the weather, it can be difficult to help your kiddos stay hydrated.
Without enough water, our bodies will suffer.
When we’re dehydrated, our body functions slow down and use up any extra energy resources. This can leave us feeling tired and sluggish.
Dehydration can also cause unclear thinking, mood changes, and constipation. And our children’s small bodies are no exception.
Water helps to protect your child’s immune system.
Our bodies experience normal water loss when going to the bathroom, sweating, and even when you’re breathing. These actions occur naturally in order to flush the body of toxins and waste and keep our bodies healthy.
So it’s very important to remind and encourage our kids to drink enough water to replenish their body’s normal water loss and help their body systems remove toxins.
How much water does my child need to drink every day?
According to the CDC, there is no recommendation for how much water adults and children should be drinking. But one thing they do address is that plain water intake is markedly low in young children.
A good rule of thumb is this: when you start to feel very thirsty, you are already well on your way to becoming hydrated.
We need to help our children recognize when they are thirsty and encourage them to listen to their body’s natural cues. Just as we don’t wait to eat until we are starving, we can’t wait to drink until we feel very thirsty.
So what do you do when your child won’t drink water?
If you struggle to get your child to drink water, here’s a new solution. Like with anything we want our kids to try, we need to make it fun, interesting, or new! Heck, even moms frequently forget to drink enough H2O.
So I decided to come up with some fun and creative ways to get my kids to drink more water throughout the day. They have even helped me drink more water too!
Here are some tips to make drinking water fun!
As parents, we know drinking water is important for our health, but our kids are still learning how to make smart health choices for themselves.
Here are several ways you can remind them to drink water and even have fun while doing it!
Dress it up.
Drinking plain water is boring. Even adults fall victim to this thought on a regular basis. So try dressing up your child’s boring water to make it more appealing and appetizing!
Do you feel special when you go to an upscale restaurant and find that the chef has embellished your plate with a sprig of rosemary or thyme? Or maybe you become giddy when your fruity beverage is placed in front of you with colored sugar crystals around the rim of the glass?
Well, just like dressing up your food can elevate your mood and invite you to dig in, your kids will also get excited if you go the extra mile to make their BORING drink of water just a tad bit exotic and fresh!
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
- Add a lemon wedge (or other fruit) to the rim of their cup and show them how to squeeze it into their drink.
- Infuse their water with strawberry and cucumber slices. Here are some helpful instructions and other colorful and yummy combinations to try out!
- Find a unique ice cube mold like this unicorn one, or this lego one to add to their glass at mealtimes.
- Pump a few squirts of fruity-flavored syrup (like my favorite peach-flavor – don’t forget the pump!) into their water bottle and watch them chug it down.
- Add a drop of food coloring in their favorite color to *wow* them into drinking to the last drop.
Serve it silly!
When I was young, one of my favorite pastimes was setting up a pretend “tea party” with a miniature tea set that my parents brought back from a trip to Boston. My little sister and I would spend HOURS in the back yard sipping from our tiny teacups of water and nibbling on ritz crackers. Those are fond memories I’ll treasure forever.
But why did my sister and I love playing “tea party” so much? Because kids LOVE to pretend, and they LOVE to be silly. So the next time you’re struggling to get your kids to hydrate, pick one of these ideas to try and watch as they go to town drinking plain, old water.
- Let them drink from their favorite loopy straws. The photo above is of my 4-year-old drinking from a fun cup we found at the dollar store!
- Serve them water in fancy goblets or wine glasses
- Tiny cups or shot glasses are also a fun surprise
- Allow them to pour themselves a drink from a teapot or tiny pitcher
- Set up a tea party with a child-sized tea set. This one is adorable!
- Fill a new (and clean!) spray bottle and let them squirt water right into their mouths.
When school gets out and boredom is running high, kill two birds with one stone by suggesting a relay race!
Set up the race with simple challenges interspersed with shots of water the players have to polish off before they can continue to the next challenge. Watch your kids try to beat the clock, or race against a friend or sibling, as they hydrate to the finish line.
Here’s a sample set of fun challenges:
- First challenge, move cotton balls from one bowl to another using a spoon held in your mouth.
- Second challenge, drink 1 shot of water.
- Third challenge, sort colorful pompoms into colorful cups.
- Fourth challenge, drink 2 shots of water.
- Fifth challenge, whistle the ABC song
- Final challenge, drink 3 shots of water
- Ring the bell when you’re finished!
Pro tip: it’s probably a good idea to suggest this activity right after school, or at least midway between meals. You don’t want their bellies full of water right before dinnertime!
Track water consumption
Provide your child with an exciting way to track their water drinking habits and watch them start to take personal responsibility for their health.
There are many ways to track your hydration, but here are some tried-and-true ideas that my kids have loved.
- Download a smartphone app, like Plant Nanny, that lets you water your plant as you drink and watch it grow! You can even set up notifications to help remind them to drink.
- Write on a disposable water bottle with a permanent marker and add marks with the time of day they need to finish a portion of the water; ex. By 10 am, drink enough water so the water lines up with the first mark labeled 10 am, by Noon, drink enough water so the water lines up with the second mark labeled noon, and so on.
- I created this handy water tracker (above) so my kids would have a visual reminder every time they walk into the kitchen. They grab a glass of water, chug it down, and then use a crayon (or sticker) to fill in the next drop of water. You can grab this exact Kid’s Water Tracker at the end of the post!
Set a timer.
The sound of a timer going off is always a great reminder to do something. And drinking water is no different!
Place a mechanical timer (like this cute monkey timer) on the kitchen counter, set it for an hour, and encourage your kids to drink a glass of water every time they hear it go off. As soon as the last gulp is gone, they can reset the timer for another hour and anticipate their next hydration session.
Such an easy and straightforward way to get your kids to drink more water!
The 10 Gulp Rule
A trick I personally use to help me drink more water is The 10 Gulp Rule. It’s quick, painless, and completely habit-forming. You gotta try it.
Here’s how it works: Every time the cup touches your lips, take 10 gulps before putting it down. See? Easy.
Especially on days when I’m feeling bored, anxious, or I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I remind myself of this rule. Instead of wallowing in stress or eating an entire box of Oreos, I choose to follow The 10 Gulp Rule.
I always feel better afterward and I also have more clarity in-the-moment. Water is SO good for you that way.
I also love that it has that element of a challenge that kids crave. Tell them the rules and show ’em how it’s done. I willing to bet my front teeth they’ll be up for the challenge!
Personalized cups or water bottles
I find that one of the greatest challenges to keeping my kids hydrated is my frustration at all the cups that get left out and not knowing which cup is whose!
A simple solution to this problem is to have personalized cups or water bottles for each member of the family to drink from.
For a pretty penny, you could have monogrammed cups or water bottles for each family member…like these adorable ones from Pottery Barn.
Or on the cheap, have each person decorate and write their name on a disposable cup or water bottle.
For a unique and inexpensive solution, purchase colored bands to place on each cup with a different color assigned to each member in your family.
Keep it handy.
If the saying “out of sight, out of mind” is accurate, then the opposite must also be true, right?
Placing bottles of water in common locations around the house is a sure-fire way to remind your kids (and YOU) to drink more water. In fact, I always have one bottle filled with water on my nightstand next to my bed and one near the sink in the kitchen. And without fail, every single one of my kids will reach for them when they see them.
It drives my husband completely bonkers that I’m willing to share a drink with all of our kids. But I have the complete opposite reaction. It truly warms my heart to see my kids make healthy decisions and so I love to share my drink with them!
But whether you think it’s gross or not, you can be strategic about placing water around the house each day for your kids to remind them to drink more.
Serve them foods with high water content.
If you have trouble getting your kids and toddlers to drink plain water, consider serving them more foods that have high water content. All fruits and veggies are a good source of nutrients, including water, but here are some delicious snack suggestions that will get your kiddos’ mouths watering.
If you’re interested to learn more about the percentages of water these foods have, refer to this helpful article from healthline.com.
Be a water role model
And finally, one of the very best tricks to getting your kids to drink more water is to be the ultimate role model for them! Kids are very mindful of the choices they make and they all want to do what’s right. It’s in their very nature.
So when they see adults making choices every day, they assume we are making the right choices.
I once heard a story about a dad who refused to drink water. He constantly proclaimed “water has no flavor” and would only drink heavily-flavored beverages. Guess what his kids drink? Not water!
We have such a profound effect on our kiddos. This can be a blessing and a curse. So be the model your kids can look up to. In every single way!
If you choose to hydrate with water, so will your kids. If you make smart health choices, so will they. Lead by example.
Healthy kids drink water.
According to the CDC, kids who drink less water tend to drink less milk, eat fewer fruits and vegetables, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, eat more fast food, and get less physical activity.
As moms, our #1 goal is to raise happy and healthy kids. Right? So if statistics show that a child who drinks enough water every day is living a healthier life than most, then it’s important for us to do everything we can to make it happen!
So please! Try out one, several, or even ALL of these new and exciting ways to get your kids to drink more water!
Don’t forget to sign up below and get your FREE Kid’s Water Tracker! Then watch as your kiddos get excited to drink their daily water!
PS. If you struggle to get your juice-addicted toddler to drink more water, try this little trick.
Water-down their juice!
Here’s a simple and effective way to do it:
- For one week, filled their cup up to 3/4 full, and the remaining 1/4 fill with water.
- The next week, begin filling their cup 1/2 full with juice and the other half water.
- Finally, fill their cup only 1/4 of the way with juice, and the remaining 3/4 with water.
Solution: You have now increased their daily water intake, reduced their sugar intake and they still think they’re drinking juice!