There is something about children and water. While a small percentage of them love it and have it in abundance, the majority of them couldn’t care less.
On most days, my daughter does not drink enough water. When she’s at home and right under my nose, I’m a typical nagging parent making sure she’s sufficiently hydrated. However, one thing I have no control over is that big, bottle of water that goes to school with her and comes back virtually untouched.
However, when you live in Dubai where summers can be extremely harsh, you are left with no choice but to deal with this seriously. Having done a series of experiments in this direction, here are some of the ways in which I try and get enough H20 into her system everyday.
- Making the most of the morning hours: Her day begins with a glass of lukewarm water. One of the obvious advantages of this is the smooth bowel movement that ensues right after. This is generally followed by a milk-based breakfast such as cereal, oatmeal, rice-flakes or muesli. Here, milk takes care of the hydration bit besides being a great source of protein, carbohydrates and calcium in itself. Once she’s done with breakfast, I get her to drink a few sips of water again more as a mouth-cleansing ritual. These last few sips before rushing to school are basically a bonus, if it happens, it happens or else I don’t push it.
- The yellow-pee game: Ever since my almost-6 year old was a baby, we used to play this game. Every time she would pee, I would ask her to check the color and say it out loud. In following this process over the years, it will be safe to say that we’ve managed to develop our very own shade card for the color ‘yellow’ 😉 However, through this simple, mindless game that we both enjoy, she also has it ingrained in her system by now that the darker her pee, the more water she needs.
- Fruits and veggies with high-water content: This really is the simplest solution. Irrespective of how many glasses of water she drinks in a day, I ensure that she consumes vegetables and fruits that are high in water content every day. Think cucumber, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, sweet peppers, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, peach, pineapple, orange, apple, apricot, plum, grapes and banana. The beauty of this list is that it is so extensive – even if the child is a fussy eater, there must be something in this list that they enjoy!
- Fancy cups and bottles: One thing I’ve learned over the years is that children are attracted to fancy equipment just as bees are attracted to honey. Hence, in her growing up years and even now, a certain section of our monthly budget is allocated towards quirky cups and bottles. So while I recently got rid of the ‘Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Winnie The Pooh’ range of cups and bottles (which she used when she was much younger), I supplemented our collection with the likes of Dora, Elsa and Tinkerbell. Jokes apart, there is a different kind of thrill in playing games such as ‘Drink till you reach the end of Elsa’s hair!’.
- Think substitutes: Of course there are days when my daughter has flatly refused water, milk or even water-based fruits and vegetable. These are called roadblocks. However, to tide over those days, I pull out my secret resources – cold water, flavored ice cubes, ice lollies, fizzy water, fruit juices, juice milk and laban. While there is no true substitute for plain water, it is on these days when some liquid is better than no liquid at all.
- Practice what you preach: After all the gyan I have provided on the subject, I have a confession to make. In the rut of parenting, housework and other responsibilities, I was never drinking enough water myself. What a miserable example to set in front of a growing child? However, in monitoring her daily intake, the realization struck me one day. Things have changed for the better since and we’re a much healthier, happier and hydrated family now!