Illustration for article titled How to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

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Some kids will happily chug water all day, while others would rather shrivel up like a raisin before giving up their milk or juice and succumbing to the wet blandness that is plain old water. Once a kid has juice, they tend to prefer juice (who wouldn’t?)—but even little kids need to drink water regularly to stay hydrated and build longterm healthy habits.

One helpful strategy to up their water intake comes from a listener of the One Bad Mother podcast who called in to explain how she got her pro-juice kids to drink more H2O:

They sell all those water bottles for adults with little timelines, kind of as a guide to get you to drink your water. So I took a Sharpie marker, I drew some black lines on the water bottle, and now I give them goals—by the end of breakfast, you need to be done with your first line. By the time you get to lunch, you need to be at your fourth line. And this has been working for a week now. I’ve actually gotten them to drink two bottles of water a day.

She’s talking about these sorts of bottles that give adults hourly goals and little notes of encouragement for the most parched among us. But the idea can work on any water bottle that is at least semi-transparent.

Instead of hourly goals, you can choose milestones throughout the day that resonate more with kids, such as around meal times, snack times, and nap times. This breaks the task down into smaller, more manageable chunks, rather than pushing larger portions at them a couple of times a day, which can seem daunting.

If you’re not sure how much water consumption to aim for, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Age 6-12 months: 4-8 oz. per day (0.5-1 cup per day)
  • Age 12-24 months: 8-32 oz. per day (1-4 cups per day)
  • Age 2-5 years: 8-40 oz. per day (1-5 cups per day)

That’s in addition to the breastmilk, formula, whole milk or low-fat/skim milk they’re also drinking. And keep in mind that older kids and kids who are very active or play sports will need more.


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