Did you know the human body is made up of 70% water? That’s why dietitians and nutritionists are constantly promoting its benefits and why it’s important that you do the same thing with your own kids.
But in our modern world with fizzy soft drinks and sugar-laden smoothies everywhere you look, it’s easy to see why kids would want to reach for these first. Here’s how to hype-up the H20.
In a nutshell, we need it to survive. Our bodies have lots of important functions and they need water to do many of them, including oxygenating our blood, digesting our food, strengthening our immune systems and rehydrating our bodies. Yep, water’s got a big job to do!
Water is also better for us as it is cheap, almost always readily available, it has zero sugar and kilojoules, and its fluoride content can help strengthen teeth and bones and minimise dental problems. Plus, it’s actually the number-one-best-way to quench your thirst. True!
How much is enough?
The body is an amazing structure that automatically regulates the amount of water in our systems to keep us hydrated. However, when it doesn’t have enough, it can become dehydrated, which can turn nasty quite quickly. A good indicator is the colour of our urine. If it’s a dark yellow, our bodies are holding onto water and it’s time to drink up!
There is no ‘magic number’ in terms of how much water kids should drink every day, however they should definitely be drinking some with meals, when they are thirsty, when the weather’s warm and when they’re exercising.
Are there other options?
OK, so most of us are aware of the nastiest so-called ‘hydration helpers’ out there, which include flavoured milks, soft drinks, cordials, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavoured mineral water. However, fruit juices which often contain added sugars are one of the sneakier ‘healthy’ drinks you should also look out for.
Children actually don’t need fruit juice at all. Better alternatives are whole fruits which are often naturally sweet, contain fibre and lots of vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, contain lots of water. These include things like watermelon, berries, pineapple, mango and stone fruit.
And although water is by far the best option for hydration, milk is also an option for children over two years of age as it helps your child develop strong teeth and bones, and generally contains a significant amount of water. Reduced fat versions are the way to go here as they contain as many nutrients as full cream milk, but are lower in unhealthy saturated fats.
Help! My kids won’t drink water
It tastes bland, contains no sugar and in no way can compete with the fizzy, colourful deliciousness of a beautifully bubbling soft drink, so how can you get your kids to drink more of it?
- Pack a refillable water bottle whenever you go out and when they’re playing sport. Even better, buy them a super-cool version they’ll want to show off.
- Always have cold water in the fridge at home, serve water to everyone with the family meal, and show your child that you actually enjoy drinking water.
- In summer, include a frozen water bottle in their lunch box. Water is actually so much nicer consumed cold, and it will also double up as a freezer block.
- Add some fresh fruit like berries or sliced citrus
- Fill a fun shaped ice cube tray with water and freeze for hot days
- Add fresh fruit and water to ice cube trays or ice block moulds
- Use colourful or curly straws in their favourite cup