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May 2018

3 Tips To Help Children Tap Into Water

Water is essential to good health. It helps us to control our body temperature and blood pressure, and gets things moving in our digestive system, keeping us 'regular'. Proper hydration helps children feel energetic and alert throughout the day. When it comes to satisfying thirst and staying hydrated, water is the best choice!

Water can be introduced as a beverage for healthy term infants as of 6 months of age, along with adequate amounts of breastmilk or infant formula and complementary foods. Water provided to infants must be free from contamination. It should not be carbonated, flavoured, or sweetened.

Here are some tips to help children stay hydrated:

  • Offer water when they wake up in the morning to start the day off right
  • Send children to childcare or school with a full water bottle each day. 
    • 12-16 oz. (1.5-2 cups) is a good sized bottle for small hands, to be refilled as needed
  • Encourage children not to ignore their thirst – they may need to drink more when it is warm outside or when being physically active
  • Offer fluids in different ways: offer snacks like watermelon, cucumber, and strawberries (and many other fresh fruits & veggies), which have a high water content and also provide important vitamins, minerals, and fibre!
Energy drinks (Monster, Red Bull, etc.) and sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) can contain anything from caffeine, to large amounts of added sodium, sugar, and other electrolytes and these beverages are not recommended for children or adolescents. Keep it simple -- children and teens that play sports or participate in other physical activities can get all the hydration and nutrients they need by having a balanced snack beforehand, drinking water before and during exercise, and refueling with a healthy meal after their activities.

Add some flavour to water without the excess added sugar:

  1. Add a splash of unsweetened 100% fruit juice
  2. Add sliced fruit, vegetables, or fresh herbs to a pitcher of water (sliced orange, lemon, lime, cucumber, berries, pineapple, mint, rosemary...)
  3. Prepare a batch of ice cubes using unsweetened 100% fruit juice -- great for those hot summer days!

Bottom line: Hydrate with water more often than with sugar-sweetened beverages. By offering water to children throughout the day and alongside meals and snacks, you are helping them to form another important healthy habit.

Author: Melissa Frankel, Registered Dietitian