Healthy kids: Getting tots to love drinking water
Considering how much trouble many adults have in getting enough water intake each day, how can parents know if their children are drinking enough water? And if the little ones are not in fact drinking enough, how can the adults in their lives convince them to accept boring old water over the colorful excitement of sugary drinks? If these questions are keeping you up at night as a parent, we’re here to help!
How much water intake do kids need to drink each day?
Let’s start with babies. According to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), babies under 6 months should only consume breast milk or formula. After that, parents can give small amounts (2-3 fl. oz.) to babies to supplement the breast milk or formula until they start solid foods.
After the first year, parents should give their tots water as the primary beverage. A simple rule of thumb for adequate hydration in each age bracket is:
- Toddlers: 2-4 cups
- Ages 4 to 8: 5 cups
- Ages 9 to 13: 7-8 cups
- Ages 14+: 8-11 cups
Note: 1 cup = 8 fl. oz. = 237 mL
Keep in mind that, just like adults, males have higher water intake requirements than females, and kids who are active in sports or live in hotter climates will also need more water.
But my kid HATES water!
According to research by the Centers for Disease Control, youth are more likely than adults to consume sugar-sweetened beverages each day. Handing over sweet juices and sodas to your child as a treat may not seem like a big deal when the child is still growing, but doing so habituates kids to the idea that sweet drinks are superior to plain ones. As any adult who has tried to kick the sugar habit knows, once you’ve made it part of your life, it’s really hard to say goodbye to sugar. Fortunately, we have some fun and efficient ways to help you keep water as your children’s primary beverage for as long as possible.
- Let your child choose their own sippy cup or bottle, so they feel greater attachment to their choice
- Get some cute reusable ice cubes in the shapes of your child’s favorite animals or cartoon characters
- Make water drinking a game! Use a paper chart on the wall or fridge, and reward your child with a sticker or other non-sugary treat for drinking up
- Add berries to water to give it color and a touch of flavor without making it sweet
- Be a good role model — always carry your own water bottle and show ‘em how it’s done!
- Start and end every family meal with a cup of water to make it a habit (and improve digestion)
Getting kids to drink more water can be a real parenting challenge with kids who don’t love water, so it’s easy to let hydration take a backseat for the sake of peace and quiet. However, with some creativity and modeling your own love and appreciation for water, your kids will learn how important it is to drink up!