4 Easy Ways to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

This is the time of year when parents worry about keeping their kids hydrated and preventing them from getting over-heated.  And water is typically all it takes – fancy sports drinks aren’t needed unless your kid is a star athlete. (Then read this blog post about what they need before, during and after sports).

Drinking enough water and avoiding sugary drinks are two of the most important things you can do for your child’s growth and dietary health. Water keeps our bodies functioning properly – all the way down to the cellular level. And over-consumption of sugar, which is in juice, sports drinks and soda, is linked to many diseases later in life and should be limited.

Parents often ask me how much their kids should be drinking each day. It’s different for every kid, and it can change for the same kid based the activity level and environment. The best way to judge if your kids are drinking enough is to look at their urine. If it’s dark yellow, they’re not getting an adequate amount to stay hydrated.

In general, here’s a quick, easy way to figure out daily volume for kids. I multiply six ounces by the child’s age in years. I usually max them out at 12 years, or 72 ounces. But more is not bad. And remember, infants under 1 year of age do not need extra water!

In my experience, kids typically aren’t drinking enough each day. So how can you help them drink more? Here are a few suggestions I relay to my patients and families:

4 Easy Ways to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water


1. Limit their choices

In an ideal scenario, children will drink water because it’s the only thing they’re used to drinking besides milk.  Try to avoid giving them juice, soda, other sweetened beverages, or only as a treat on special occasions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their recommendations related to juice. Children under one year of age should not drink any juice. For older children, the maximum daily intake of 100% juice products should be 4 ounces for children ages 1-3 years, 4-6 ounces for children ages 4-6 years and 8 ounces for those 7 years and older.  There is also a very strong case for watering down the juice that children receive as well.

2. Make it fun

Drinking it doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to be flavorless.  What we’re trying to prevent is added sugar, not added taste.  Add fresh fruit to their water!  Oranges, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, are all good choices.  You can add them straight to the water for taste, or freeze them in ice cubes for a splash of color and a delayed burst of flavor!

3. Have it readily available

Children love independence.  Allow them to get it themselves – either by a water dispenser on your fridge or in easy-to-reach dispense jugs on your counter. Kids who are too young to get the water themselves may enjoy having their own water bottle that they can grab off the table. You may just need to help them fill it up.

4. Be a good example

If they see you drinking water, they’ll be more likely to do so as well.  Everyone in the family can have their own water bottle to fill up throughout the day.  If you’ll be out during the summer – freeze them overnight and you’ll have ice water ready, which will stay cooler outside.

To learn more about our Division of General and Community Pediatrics, or to schedule an appointment, please call 513-636-4506.

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Jill Klein, MD

About the Author: Jill Klein, MD

Jill Klein, MD, has been a pediatrician with the Primary Care Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s for six years. A native of Cincinnati, her main areas of interest are childhood obesity and mental healthcare.  

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  1. Lisalfranks September 23, 21:17
    I have eliminated about 99% of the soft drinks that I used to crave, and replaced it with tap water kept in the refrigerator. I never drink sports drinks and have included more fresh fruits for hydration, such as watermelon, peaches, and pineapples. I feel better inside for all of these changes, and I try to influence my son and grandchildren to do the same.
  2. […] them milk or water instead of adding other drinks) and add fruit for a little more flavor! Click here to read more tips on this from Cincinnati Children’s […]