5 Easy Tricks for Getting Your Kid to Drink More Water

girl waterGetting kids to drink enough water is a battle most parents are all too familiar with. It's super important for little ones (and everyone else) to stay hydrated, but it can be tough to sell them on the idea of water once they've discovered the existence of such tasty alternatives as apple juice and chocolate milk.

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Of course it's okay to give kids non-water beverages some of the time. After all, juice does provide some measure of nutrition, like vitamin C (provided it's real fruit juice, of course); and milk (even chocolate!) contains calcium and protein. But it's easy to overdo them.

To help parents figure out exactly how much is okay, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued the following guidelines:

  • Don't give fruit juice to infants younger than 6 months of age.
  • Don't give juice to older infants and toddlers in bottles or sippy cups. (This contributes to tooth decay and makes juice too readily available.)
  • Don't give fruit juice at bedtime (which can also lead to tooth decay).
  • Children ages 1 to 6: Limit fruit juice to 4 to 6 ounces or less per day.
  • Children ages 7 to 18: Limit fruit juice to 8 to 12 ounces or less daily.

That's not very much, right? (Oh, and the AAP recommendations for children's milk consumption is approximately 2 cups per day.) If your kid is only drinking one cup of juice and two cups of milk all day long, he's gonna be pretty thirsty. So how do you convince him that water is the way to go?

In my 14 years as a parent, here are a few tricks I've learned -- and they really work, I promise!

1. Fun cups

Little kids love nothing more than picking things out all by themselves. Let your toddler choose his very own sippy cup at the store (better yet, get two or three) that's just for water. That sense of ownership combined with the drive to hydrate will guarantee regular sipping!

2. Seltzer

Swapping out some of the still for bubbly (whether plain or fruit-flavored) can make drinking water more appealing for kids of all ages -- I've seen adults kick soda habits by switching to seltzer too. 

3. Flavored water

Lots of companies are finally getting hip to the fact that people want to drink more water, hence the recent boom in unsweetened, calorie-free fruit-flavored water. It's a lot pricier than what comes out of your tap, sure, but this option can also help a juice-addicted kid make the transition to water. 

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4. Keep it cold

One thing I've noticed with my kids (and myself, actually) is that they're more likely to knock back a big glass or bottle of water if it's ice cold. Even better? If there's ice in it.

5. Add fruit

Fruit-infused water is all the rage these days, and with good reason: Adding a few citrus slices or some berries to a pitcher or bottle of water gives it a great flavor without adding any unwanted sugar. 

Happy drinking! 

 

Image via iStock.com/Gemenacom 

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