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What to do When Your Child Won’t Drink Plain Water


Have you ever felt the effects of mild dehydration? Symptoms are typically headaches, lethargy, poor concentration and of course, feeling thirsty.

We all know it’s important to stay hydrated, particularly during the summer when it’s hot.

Children can suffer mild dehydration more easily than adults due to their activity levels, being distracted or not liking plain water. 

Inadequate hydration can have serious negative effects. In children, it can lead to poor cognitive and emotional function. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, poor concentration and poor physical performance. 

Access to water is vital for children and this can often be a problem at school. 

In a UK study involving 104 schools, 69 of them had at least one drinking fountain, but 35 didn’t! 

So it’s vital we help our busy kiddos stay hydrated at home, at school and on all their other adventures by making sure they always have access to water. 

Plain water is best, as most other drinks contain added sugar, which isn’t ideal for kids. Increased ingestion of sugary drinks has been linked to childhood obesity and blood sugar issues.

What do you do if your child refuses to drink plain water? 

While they are young, it’s best to give your baby plain water once they move on from milk, instead of juice or flavoured drinks.

We often assume children want sweet things all the time, but actually most children will drink plain water if that’s all they are offered once they move on from milk.

If you have regularly given your child juice or flavoured drinks and now they won’t drink plain water, don’t worry. It is possible to wean them off.

You can try gradually diluting their juice with more water, or trying one of these delicious ideas below.

Eating fruits and vegetables that have a high water content (such as cucumbers and watermelon) are great for hydrating the body. They also contain electrolytes, which also play a huge role in hydration.

Electrolytes are essential minerals; sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorus.

Electrolytes are responsible for directing water to the areas of your body that need it most and they also help maintain optimal fluid balance within cells.

Electrolyte minerals are found in lots of different foods and are easily obtained from a balanced diet. Salt has been given a bad rap over the years but a good quality salt is actually a great way to get electrolytes.

It’s okay for kids to have a little salt. Although it’s better for them to have a sprinkle of good quality mineral-rich salt with their dinner than eating salty, processed foods. 

Standard table salt is mostly just sodium and doesn’t have many minerals but if you choose Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, you can be sure you’re getting minerals as well. 

Try these five drinks for the whole family to stay hydrated during the summer.

Besides taste, these are also great options to add more vitamins, minerals and fibre into your child’s diet (and your own!).

  1. Eat Fruits and Veggies Especially watermelon, cucumber and celery which all have a high water content and contain electrolytes.
  2. Spa water Chilled water with sliced lemon, lime, cucumber, strawberries and mint.
  3. Iced herbal tea Make a small cup of any (or a blend) of your favourite herbal teas then leave to steep. Top with cold water and ice.
  4. Chilled water with a squeeze of orange
  5. Celery, cucumber, ginger and lemon smoothie. Blend in a blender then pour over ice.

Enjoy this gorgeous weather and don’t forget to stay hydrated!


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