13 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Drink Water

Image: Shutterstock


Water helps regulate our body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, and protects our internal organs and tissues. The body loses water throughout the day through sweat, urine, and even our breath, and thus, the water lost from the body has to be replaced to avoid dehydration.

It is crucial that children drink a decent amount of water every day. The amount of water a child requires may vary based on their age and sex. So, you may want to know the answer to the question, “How much water should kids drink in a day?” Read on as we share all the details you need to know about a child’s daily water requirement.

How Much Water Should A Child Drink?

Every child’s body needs a certain amount of water each day, and both over-hydration (hyponatremia) and dehydration can be harmful to their body (1). As per the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the following are the recommended daily water intake for a child based on their age and sex (2).

AgeSexTotal Water Intake (Liters)
4 to 8 yearsGirl/Boy1.7
9 to 13 yearsGirl2.1
14 to 18 yearsGirl2.3

Apart from plain water, children can also consume healthy beverages, fruits, and vegetables that add to their total water intake in a day.

If your child spends time outdoors participating in any physical activity, especially in the sun, they will need to drink more water depending on how much they sweat. Ensure they drink water before, during, and after the activity.

How Do I Know If My Child Is Hydrated?

Dehydration in children happens when they lose excessive amounts of water and salts from their bodies and do not replace the fluid that has been lost. To check if your child is well hydrated, watch out for the following signs.

  1. Observe how often your child urinates and the color of their urine. If they pass urine at regular intervals, and the urine color is clear or light yellow, you need not worry. But if they hardly urinate and the color of their urine is dark yellow, you can assume it’s dehydration (3).
  1. Alternatively, you can also try the pinch test, wherein you gently pinch the back of your child’s wrist or hand and notice how their skin reacts. If the skin comes back instantly to its original shape, it is a sign of good hydration. If it indents and takes a while to come back to its original shape, it can be an early sign of dehydration (4).
  1. You could also look for the following common signs and symptoms of dehydration in children (5).
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Crying without tears
  • A high fever
  • Being unusually sleepy or drowsy
  • Irritability
  • Eyes that look sunken
  • Lack of urination

13 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Drink More Water

Children often forget to drink water, and it can be challenging to get them to drink water on their own. Here are effective ways in which you can encourage your child to drink water.

  1. Carry a few bottles of water with you at all times when traveling with your child. Keep one bottle in your vehicle and another bottle in your child’s backpack. Send them to school with their reusable bottle so they can drink anytime they feel thirsty.
  1. Make it a habit for your child to drink water. If they start this good habit from childhood, it will benefit them even in adulthood. You can fix a time for drinking water, such as a glass early in the morning, one glass an hour before sleeping, and so on.
  1. Try to keep them away from unhealthy sugary drinks, and let water be their first option to quench their thirst.
  1. At home, allot a bottle separately for your child, and tell them they have to finish up the bottle by sipping water frequently throughout the day. Praise them each time they hand you their empty water bottle by the end of the day.
  1. Make their water look tempting by adding colorful berries or lemon in the water jug or their water bottle.
  1. Get them a fancy water bottle, mug, or cup, and place it in a place easily accessible to them, such as the refrigerator or their study table. This way, they will be reminded to sip water each time they see it.
  1. Add some color to their water. You could do this by using ice cubes that come in different shapes, such as stars or hearts. Add some mint leaves or some colorful fruit juice to the ice cubes, and place them in their transparent bottle or water pitcher.
  1. Set a family goal of drinking water each day, and calculate the total amount of water consumed by each member at the end of the week. Award the person who meets their water-drinking target.
  1. Lure your child to drink more water by getting them a cool-looking straw. This will make drinking water more attractive to them.
  1. When children are taught actions that most adults do, they feel excited to do it more often. So, you can teach your child to use the water dispenser in your house. Show how you trust them with such a responsibility, and they will do it happily and drink water too.
  1. If your child acts fussy when you offer them water, add ample amounts of fruits and vegetables high in water content to their diet.
  1. For tech-savvy children, install a reminder app that buzzes at regular intervals to remind them to drink water throughout the day.
  1. Lastly, lead by example and sip water regularly yourself, so they watch you and pick up the healthy habit.

Label the water bottle with different hours of the day so that a specified amount is finished by that time. This helps to keep a goal for each hour and ensures that the child is drinking enough in a day.

When you keep water accessible and visible in your house, it becomes easier for children to develop the habit of drinking water. If possible, sit with your children and explain to them the importance of water to their health. Also, ensure that they do not overdrink water.


MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Hydration In-Depth; Boston Children’s Hospital
2. Dietary Reference Intakes; National Academy of Sciences
3. 10 Colors That Suggest Urine Trouble; UC San Diego Health
4. Dehydration; LabTestsOnline
5. Dehydration; MedLine Plus


Recommended Articles: