Being well hydrated affects every part of the body. It helps with circulation, weight loss, memory, cognitive functioning, and keeping bones and teeth healthy. That’s why it’s so important for children to drink a healthy amount of water.
Healthy habits forged in childhood not only help your child as they grow but also make for healthy adults. The issue is that some kids have a lot of resistance to actually drinking water. While this may prove tricky at first, there are many ways to help your children get the right amount of water each day.
How to Keep Kids Hydrated
Start with yourself. One of the best ways to teach your child healthy hydration habits is to model the behavior yourself. Staying away from sugary drinks or juices and mostly drinking plain water shows your children what healthy hydration looks like in practice.
Make it fun. Things like fun, colorful straws or sippy cups can make drinking water more attractive to your child. There are a lot of products for children on the market that can make drinking water feel like a fun adventure for your little ones.
Setting up a station with a drip-free pitcher, water bottles, straws, and cups for your child to hydrate themselves whenever they want can also help. Giving them agency and choice in their own hydration makes it a more complete learning process and teaches them how to listen to their bodies.
If your child doesn’t like the taste of water when compared to juice, making fun ice cubes out of frozen fruits subtly changes the flavor. You could even add nonfrozen fruit or herbs to create infused water.
Keep water available. Get your kids drinking more water by making it easy for your child to access. Buy water bottles in children’s sizes so that your child has an easier time holding them and keeping them on hand throughout their day.
Think about limiting sugary drinks and juices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you not give your child any sugary drinks before the age of two. This includes whole fruit juices, sodas, and sports hydration drinks.
Children between the ages of one and three should have no more than four ounces of juice a day. Older children can have more juice but juice should be the option if whole fruits are not available.
How Much Water Should Your Child Be Drinking?
Babies can start drinking water at six months. They only need about four to eight ounces of water because milk provides the rest of the hydration they need.
Children aged one to three years old should drink about four cups of either water or milk a day. You should increase their intake up to five cups when they turn four years old and then seven to eight cups after their eighth birthday.
While these are the recommended amounts of liquids for children at certain ages, heat, increased physical activity, or medical conditions like the flu or a cold will increase your child's hydration needs.