It’s getting hot outside, and parents often worry about their kids staying hydrated. This is especially true for children who refuse to drink water or only take a few sips throughout the day. Is there such a thing as a picky drinker?
We are all familiar with the term picky eater. Although it’s not my favorite term to describe a child who is struggling to eat, it is a common term parents use to describe the feeding difficulties they are experiencing. Parents also use the term picky drinker to describe a child that refuses to drink water (but will drink milk, soda, or processed juice). Some parents even tell me their child rejects all fluids throughout the day. This generally leads to hospital visits for IV fluids and a referral for feeding therapy. To avoid this drastic measure and to help a child that doesn’t like the taste of water, try some of my tips for picky drinkers.
Eating vegetables like iceberg or romaine lettuce will help hydrate your little one (both primarily contain water). Other green veggies packed with water are green peppers, cucumbers, and celery. I like to place them in the ezpz Play Mat with some dip in the middle to help increase the likelihood of eating it!
Whenever it gets warm outside, I crave watermelon. So, I ensure that my pediatric clients learn to eat this nutrient-rich fruit. Since watermelon is 90% water, it is a perfect fruit for our kiddos after swimming, a picnic, or a hike. Some of my other summertime favorites are mangos, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, and, of course, oranges. They all have hydrating juices, which is why you see them at soccer games and other sporting events.
USE FEEDING TOOLS
Since hot temperatures can dehydrate children faster than adults, it’s important to make drinking water fun. Try some of my feeding therapy hacks for making your child beg for more water!
Squeeze fresh watermelon, orange, lemon, and lime into glasses and have a child try the infused water from a water dropper. It’s such a new experience, and they love trying each rainbow color!
Ice Cube Tray
Using a juicer to juice watermelon or oranges can make lots of sweet-tasting water. Fill fun-shaped ice cube trays with the fresh fruit juice, freeze them and ask the child, “Should we put one or four ice cubes in the water?” Usually, they start with one ice cube, but the more you practice, the more adventurous they get, the more adventurous they get! Try this activity to get your child to drink water with added vitamins and electrolytes (from the fruit) that are critical for keeping dehydration at bay!
Fill a medicine syringe (without the needle) with some infused water and have the child squirt the contents into your mouth as a game. Next, ask, “Should we do one squirt or four squirts into your mouth?” When you get permission, place the syringe between the gum and the back teeth and slowly squirt. Kids LOVE this game! (Be sure to squirt slowly at first because squirting too fast may cause sensory discomfort or cause them to gag).
Fill squirt guns with infused water and squirt your kiddos with it. Squirt a little into your mouth, too, to show them how goofy it is. Next thing you know, they are opening their mouths and drinking it independently! So give this a try and see who the coolest parent on the block is. It’ll be you!
Having your kids stay hydrated will help their picky eating, speech, and digestion too! Water fuels your child’s salvia, which aids in their speech development and contains enzymes that help swallow food safely. When a child can express themselves verbally and is not experiencing diarrhea or constipation, you have a child willing to try new foods and liquids!
What are some of the ways you get your child to drink water? What are some of the tools you use to make drinking fun?