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6 ways to encourage your toddler to drink more water


Launching of "Drinking Water Week"

As mothers, we do wonder whether our kids are drinking enough water. Frequently asked questions include, "How much water should my toddler drink?" "How can I get my toddler to drink more water?"

I'm glad to learn that the first-ever "Drinking Water Week" is happening in Malaysia this 18 to 22 May 2015. This meaningful event is launched by 3M Malaysia in collaboration with Julia Gabriel Center, a child enrichment center at Citta Mall, Ara Damansara.

The aim: to advocate cleaner, clearer and better tasting drinking water and better drinking water habits to improve the health & well-being of Malaysian families.



Recap of the launch

Top left: Lewis Wong, General Manager of 3M Industrial Group passing the product donation mock cheque to Wong Pau Lee, Center Director of Julia Gabriel Center and Chiltern House Preschool, at the first 3M Drinking Water Week Donation Ceremony.

Top right: Jean Lee, Advanced Application Engineer of 3M Purification showing parents the efficiency of 3M water filter through a 3M Clean-Trace Surface ATP hygiene test.

Bottom left: Indra, well-known consultant dietitian alongside Jean Lee, empowered parents on achieving cleaner, clearer and better tasting drinking water.

Bottom right: Julia Gabriel Center's teachers are advocating cleaner, clearer and better tasting drinking water through a PlayBear performance.


Indra Balaratnam, the well-known consultant dietitian.

Importance of water session with consultant dietitian, Indra Balaratnam

My favorite session was the informative engaging session conducted by invited speaker Indra Balaratnam, one of Malaysia's well-known consultant dietitians. The fun and engaging parenting skill session showed us how to encourage our children to drink more water and get more fluids in their daily diet.

She started off with an interactive session of guessing the water content of different organs in our body. Our blood has the highest water content, 92%; followed by our lungs, 90%.

Then, she continued with the seven factors that influence how many glasses of water we need to drink daily:

  • Age: Children from 1-17 years should drink 1.3-2.1 liters of water per day. Adults should drink 2.3-3.7 liters.

  • Gender: Men need an average of 13 cups a day, whereas women, an average of 9 cups a day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need to increase the amount of water to about 10-13 cups daily.

  • Height & weight: Those with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) should drink more water.

  • Exercise intensity & duration: Those who exercise a lot need to drink more water.

  • Environment: You should drink more water when the weather is hot or when you're out and about.

  • Illnesses: Sick people should drink more water to replenish water loss from their body due to illnesses.

Credit: Healthworks.my
Credit: Healthworks.my

Check your pee!

Indra commented that we can monitor the color of urine (ourselves and our kids') to see if we all are drinking enough water.

"If the color of your urine is very yellow and murky, you are not drinking enough water. It should be a very light, pale yellow. If it's dark yellow or orange, you are not drinking enough; you need to drink more water. If your urine is clear and looks just like water, it could be you are drinking too much water and you need to slow down a bit," said Indra.



6 ways to encourage your toddler to drink more water

#1 - Be a good role model yourself

In this case, the golden rule of parenting applies: Be a role model; practice what you preach. Children often copy what we are doing, so we as parents need lead by example. We drink, they drink.

#2 - Let your child have his own water jug at home

Let your child choose the water jug/bottle that he likes. Or, you can give them those with their favorite cartoon characters.

#3 - Use a reward chart

This works well with children who understand the concept of rewards. You can stick a reward chart on the wall and every time your child finishes his portion of water, give him a star and ask him to stick it on the chart.

#4 - Keep bottles of water handy and when they go out to play

Keep water bottles around the house - not just in the kitchen but also in the bedroom and the living room. Children tend to ignore thirst. But if there are bottles of water within reach, he will most likely reach for it when thirsty.

#5 - Designate your child to set out the table with water for every mealtimes

This is a good way to inculcate the habit of drinking water. Start young, be consistent, be persistent. They will eventually get the idea of drinking water on their own. Just don't give up half way.


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#6 - Introduce a variety of fluids to your child

Point #6 is based on my own research and experience. There are a few sources of fluids for proper hydration: plain drinking water, clear soups, milk, yogurt, freshly squeezed fruit juices, and juicy fruits and veggies.

  • Plain drinking water: If your child doesn't fancy plain drinking water, you can try adding lemon, lime or orange slices to add natural flavor to the water.

  • Clear soups: Soups offer nourishment and most children love soups. Cook a pot of nutritious soup and your child will oblige willingly to take in his fluids.

  • Milk & yogurt: Milk is also a healthy choice, but milk intake should be limited to 16 to 24 ounces per day. Yogurt is also a very good healthy alternative.

  • Freshly squeezed fruit juices: Preferably homemade, without added sugar and without straining. As pure as possible. My 21mo toddler loves pure orange juice, juiced with a humble manual fruit juicer. :)

  • Juicy fruits and vegetables: They contain 90-99% water, e.g. watermelon, cherry tomatoes, oranges, pear, cucumber, lettuce, grapes, peaches, and strawberries.

  • Remove fizzy drinks and bottled juices from your child's meals because they contain high amount of sugar that leads to tooth decay and obesity.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coke, coffee, and tea because these drinks draw water from your child's body, causing dehydration. I believe we don't feed these to younger children, but make sure you don't introduce them to your older children as well.

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Other related info from the web

Source
The chart above shows approximately how much water kids of different ages and genders need daily for proper hydration.


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