How to Get Kids to Drink More Water
Improve your child’s hydration habits
Whether or not your child is an athlete, he or she could probably stand to drink more water. Staying hydrated is essential to good health (for children, teens, and adults). Research even shows that when kids have better access to drinking water at school, obesity rates go down.So make it a priority to get your kids slurping down as much H2O as you can. Their exact intake needs will vary based on their height, weight, and even the weather, but six to eight cups a day is a good goal for most children.
Drink More Water? There’s an App for That
Dozens, actually! If your child has a smartphone or tablet, you can download a water-tracking and reminder app for her. There are lots of free and paid options, but some of the more kid-friendly ones are:
Plant Nanny: Choose a seedling and help it grow by tracking your water intake. This is a free app, so beware of ads, up-sells, and poor grammar. And it doesn’t offer reminders like many other hydration apps do. But it’s cute and more motivating than filling up a virtual water drop or bottle (iOS; Google Play).
Carbodroid: Instead of a plant, power up a cute little robot with this Android app. It also offers reminders, and has a simple, straightforward interface (Google Play).
iDrated: This one’s for the data-lovers. You can see your intake stats for the day or the week, set reminders, and change the target hydration level to one that works best for you (99 cents, iOS).
Water With a Twist
With all the other choices out there, it’s no wonder kids don’t always love plain old water. To boost its appeal without adding sugar or calories, try:
*Fancy ice cubes: You can find trays that make cool cubes for Lego lovers, Star Wars fans, and creative types (make suns, stars, trees, flowers, and sea life. You can also make good old rectangular ice, but add fruit or mint leaves for a hint of flavor and a burst of color.
*Fruit Granish: Instead of adding fruit to your ice, you can also take a cue from fancy spas and beach resorts, and add it directly to your water. Drop sliced fruits or berries right into your water pitcher, or try a water bottle with a built-in infuser.
*Bubbles: Not all kids like carbonation, but if yours do, consider buying seltzer water for them or investing in a Sodastream for your family. It allows you to bottle your own fizzy water at home. If you’d like to flavor it, you can do that too, and you’ll have more control than if you purchase flavored, sweetened drinks.
*Gimmicks: If you’re really desperate, or as a special treat, win kids over with flavored water pouches or just-for-kids bottled water.
Bottles with Flair
A cool or cute bottle can encourage kids to drink more water, and so can having a special bottle or cup that you carry with you all the time. Plus, refillables don’t generate waste. Here’s a lineup of top BPA-free bottles especially for kids. Your kids might prefer a straw cup or a small bottle or cup that they fill up frequently.
Sometimes that’s less intimidating than a grown-up size serving. And at home, you can have a stash of fun drinking straws to prompt more water intake.
Family Water Challenge
Make drinking more water a family policy: Don’t keep other beverages (aside from water and milk) in your home, and don’t make it a practice to buy them when you’re eating out either.
And/or, set a family goal to drink more water, so you can work on it together. Track your progress using an app, a sticker chart, or even by marking right on your water bottles with a dry-erase marker.
Did you know that dark-colored urine is a sign of dehydration? If you drink a healthy amount of water, your pee will be a very pale yellow. This fun fact might just be gross enough to motivate your kids to drink up.
Schwartz AE, Leardo M, Aneja S, and Elbel B. Effect of a School-Based Water Intervention on Child Body Mass Index and Obesity. JAMA Pediatrics. 2016.