HUNTINGTON, NY – The long-held advice about drinking eight glasses of water a day can seem daunting. And for children, it may be especially unappealing compared to slurping soda or other sugary beverages. Texting kids throughout the day to remind them to drink eight glasses of water didn’t help them achieve that goal, according a Journal of the American Medical Association study. So what works when it comes to getting your kids to drink more water?
Water is an important resource for our bodies. It helps regulate temperature, get rid of waste and protect joints, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only is it tough to turn away the temptation of sugary beverages, but for anyone constantly on the go, it is hard to balance the amount of caffeine they take in (which can dehydrate) with enough water to rehydrate.
“Dehydration can sap a kid’s energy,” said Stephanie Schiff, RDN, registered dietitian at Huntington Hospital. “If they’re not drinking enough, then fatigue and lightheadedness can set in, much as it would if they were hungry. And workouts are not as productive – if they occur at all.”
A child can be caught in a vicious cycle of dehydration, exhaustion, followed by drinking a caffeinated beverage to combat the fatigue. That drink only makes them feel more dehydrated and tired.
While water can seem unappealing and sometimes boring to the juice-box crowd, here are some ways to get children to drink more water:
- Try infused water. “This is also very popular and can add extra vitamins and flush toxins from your system the way regular water can’t,” said Eric Sieden, director of food and nutritional services at Glen Cove, Syosset and Plainview hospitals.
- Put a lemon wedge in your water. Mr. Sieden advised that a wedge can last for 12 hours before it needs to be discarded.
- Freeze a water bottle overnight to use throughout the day. Water can seem more exciting when it’s colder, Mr. Sieden said. So if parents freeze their children’s water bottles overnight, it can remain cold through most of the school day.
- Pick a water bottle that seems exciting to your child. “Have them choose one with their favorite sports team, hobby or color,” said Ms. Schiff. “Some water bottles are collapsible, so they can be easily stored when empty.”
Ms. Schiff also notes that there are water bottles with infusers built in them so parents and children can decide on fruits or other elements to flavor their water.
One way for parents to tell if a child is hydrated enough is through their urine. It should be a light yellow color if they are drinking enough water.
Try one or all of these strategies to make drinking water more enjoyable – and healthy – for your kids.