Getting Kids to Drink Water

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Encouraging kids to drink water instead of juice

Oct 2004

My children only drink juice and milk. And I am trying to get them used to drink water. I thought someone could give me some good advice on how to make the switch. Thank you. Mom E.

try using special straws and/or drink containers that are reserved for water drinking. water lover

Try watering down the juice. I cut it half half with water. Even if they never drink plain water at least they will be drinking half the juice you used to give them. Jennifer

I found your post pretty funny. My 22-month-old daughter won't drink anything but water. The other day I brought her a cup of milk and said, ''How about some milk?'' And she handed it right back and responded, ''How about some water?'' Any suggestions out there for how I can get her to drink some milk?
Water-logged mom

I think that diluting the juice is one way of getting more water into them, but ultimately, you want them to learn to accept the taste of water and the fact that it is a valid and necessary form of hydration. Nutritionists say you only want kids to drink 8 ounces of juice -- that is one big sippy cup's worth. I was in the same dilemma about a year ago and currently do several things:
- flat out tell my 3 yo son that since he already had juice in the morning, he needs to drink water with his snack or meal
- make a point of drinking water in front of him and let him take sips from my glass, or give him his own ''grown up'' glass (as opposed to plastic cup or sippy)
- give him a sports bottle with water -- he LOVES those
- introduce flavored (but not sweetened) carbonated waters -- he likes those, too.
- bring only water to the park or playground so that when he is thirsty, he has no choice but to drink it I have found that it is a gradual process -- your kids won't embrace water overnight, but if you take baby steps, it'll happen. My son drinks a *lot* less juice now, and will even ask for water at mealtimes.
Been There

Here's what we do:
a) we don't offer juice except sometimes at breakfast. At other meals we just say ''what would you like, water or milk with dinner?
b) We sometimes make water more appetizing by adding a thin slice of lemon or lime (keep some water with lime or lemon in the fridge in a pitcher, so that it's cool and has a bit of citrus taste when you pour)
c) We send them to school with light-weight metal bottles that keep water cool and fresher tasting than plastic. (I found them on sale at Elephant not long ago, and Royal Robbins outlet on Gilman has them - they're made in Switzerland and a bit pricey but durable, and the kids love them.) Not only does the water taste better, but you don't need to worry about leaching issues from plastics.
d) We never use juice boxes due to the wastefulness, the sweetness, etc., but we do sometimes for a car trip include an odwalla as a special treat, But we always pack those nice cool metal water bottles. Natasha B.

My kids ( 3 and 17 months) drink juice but they also drink a bunch of water. When we go on outings to the park or other places, I only bring bottled water. Arrowhead water makes a Jr. sport bottled water. I also have little sports bottles (like sippy cups) I fill with water. My kids really like the small bottles and since there is no other option while we're out, they always drink it. At home I usually offer water or milk to drink. You may have to take juice out of the house for a week or so. Especially juice boxes. Whenever I buy them that's all my kids want to drink. You could also try gradually watering down their juice. Good luck. kathy

We allow only water before bedtime/ after 6:30 or 7pm or so.
1. you could try slowly diluting the juices they have, starting with 1/5 water working upto to 1/2 water 1/2 juice.
2. you could try a mild diluted herbal tea with honey (and maybe milk) to get some water into them and add some variety of liquids.
3. bring only water in sippys on outings- there may be a good chance they'll drink what you brought if that's what you have with you.
4. don't offer juice at dinnertime or one meal
5. water fountains- they're not filtered, but hard to resist for most kids
6. educate with books/ vids. from library, I can't think of any specific, but my kids seem to pick up random health-related facts better from sources like these than anything their parents SAY
7. but do drink lots of water yourself/selves and they will eventually imitate on some level anon

I would try to wean them off juice/milk, rather than looking at it as encouraging water drinking. Start diluting the juice with water, starting with a little water and working up to almost all water and very little juice. This worked for me. We never drank milk, so I can't really address that, though I suppose diluting that migth work, too. Initially, I think I'd start reducing from whole milk (if you're using that) to 2%, 1% etc until their onto fat-free, since if they're drinking a lot of whole milk to start with, they're getting an awful lot of butter fat. heather

I offer my son ( 3 yrs) juice with sparkling water. He LOVES it. Just enough juice to giveit light flavor and color. I make sort of a big deal about it...kind of being a grown up drink. Serve it in a fancier plastic see through glass. Leslie

To :''Encouraging Water Drinking''-- I have a 14 year old who hated water because he always liked to drink something with flavor, so on the advice of the pediatrician I diluted his juice almost 50%. This works best with apple or cranberry or grape, not so well with citrus. He will drink water sometimes now, usually at sports. Another thing I have done this year is buy sparkling water and encourage him to dilute his juice with that. Also, I have tried to get 100% juice and avoid the juices that are heavy on corn syrup. peg