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Encouraging Children to Drink More Water

I never would have guessed that these words could come out of my mouth, but there is a thing as “too much ice cream”. Back in my younger days when I worked at Dairy Queen, my co-workers and I would tire of eating ice cream. While there was no official protocol as to how much ice cream we could eat, we pretty much ate ourselves into a coma every time our boss left for Mr. Steak.

In those moments when chocolate chip milk shakes, root beer floats and chili dogs lost their allure, we would drink soda water with lime slices. (In those days, Dairy Queen offered old-fashioned ice cream floats; the soda water is what made the “fizz”.) Especially on a hot, sultry day, soda water and lime was a crisp and refreshing alternative to dairy.

Nothing can replicate the fresh taste of soda water made from its source – a fresh blast of carbon dioxide when combined with Lake Michigan water makes the best cocktail of water and air. Many flavored waters today contain added sugars and other ingredients, so they are not a true replacement for water.

With the sultry weather coming our way this weekend, dehydration is a risk. Children – and adults – get so involved in having fun that they forget to drink water. Soda, beer and energy drinks don’t count. The Mayo Clinic says, “Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly.” Whether you’re running a 5K or running to the restroom, water helps your body function.

WebMD recommends that children and teens need about 6 to 8 cups of water a day. During play or exercise, a good goal is to drink a half cup to 2 cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Plain water, though, can be kind of boring, especially to a child who may not fully appreciate its health benefits.

Keep in mind that some foods are chocked full of water – like watermelon, cantaloupe,  celery, raspberries, pineapple and spinach – and can help you reach the ideal water goal. Sodas, juices, teas and coffees can be loaded with sugar and/or caffeine, so be sure to watch that you’re not substituting water for a less healthy alternative. WebMD notes that sports drinks have a high water content and contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, which can help you absorb water and keep your energy levels up. During intense workouts, they help to replace salt lost through sweat. But, WebMD warns that many also contain lots of extra calories, sugar, and salt.

To avoid dehydration on these hot days and to encourage your children to drink the recommended daily intake of water even on the coldest days of the year, here are some tips from the Children’s Hospital of Colorade:

  • Get silly straws, such as moustache straws or curly straws, for your children’s water cups
  • Freeze clementine oranges or berries in lieu of ice cubes
  • Drop into water slices of fruit and/or herbs: lemons, strawberries and rosemary, or cucumbers
  • Use a water bottle with an infuser and fill the infuser with berries
  • Purchase a special reusable water bottle for your child that he picks out (and follow instructions for proper washing and care of it)
  • Freeze water in freezer-safe bottles for your older children; when the ice melts, the little chunks of ice are refreshing
  • Choose water rather than soda at restaurants – you’ll save money, too
  • Be a role model – let your child see you drinking, and enjoying, water

Before giving water to your infant, check with your child’s physician. You want to be sure that your infant’s appetite isn’t affected. Also, if your child has health conditions be sure to follow your physician’s advice for keeping your child hydrated in this hot, humid weather.