How to Get Kids to Drink More Water

A kid drinking out of a reusable water bottle

Last Updated: 9/2/2020

Raging hormones or the terrible twos might not be the only cause of your child’s grumpy attitude. You have probably heard of being ‘hangry’, but did you know that a child not drinking enough fluids is also likely to be tired and cranky throughout the day? Chronic dehydration can impact your child’s mood and other neurological functions, like their ability to learn and retain information.

If you’re wondering exactly how much water should kids drink, take a look at the chart below. The Child Health Oversight Committee (CHOC) says the recommended amount of daily water intake varies with age and sex. Older children, especially teenage boys, need more water than younger children. There’s an easy formula to determine how much water should kids drink. The CHOC says children should drink the number of 8-ounce cups of water equal to their age. The maximum amount of water is 64 ounces for children over 8.

Age in Years Number of 8 oz cups
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 and older 8

Now that we’ve answered the question of how much water should kids drink; the real challenge becomes figuring out how to get kids to drink water. A study from the Harvard Chan school’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences suggests over half of adolescents in the United States experience chronic dehydration. Water plays a role in physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a cross-sectional study of children and teenagers ages 6-19 which revealed that 54.5% of the researched population was mildly dehydrated. More than a quarter of the children and adolescents in the study reported drinking no plain water at all. Mild dehydration does not indicate an immediate medical concern. However, if a child is not drinking enough fluids, he or she is likely to experience low energy and possible short-term memory loss. Eventually, this can lead to chronic dehydration.

If a child is not drinking enough fluids, it might seem reasonable to replace water with a sweeter more flavorful beverage to make it go down easier. There are a lot of sugary drinks specifically targeted towards kids such as Capri Sun and SunnyD. Kids sipping on water in the lunchroom may see their peers drinking from colorful juice boxes and feel like they are missing out. However, those kids gulping on delicious flavors are actually more likely to experience chronic dehydration since drinks with lots of sugar reduce the amount of fluid a body can retain.

If you’ve ever told a kid to drink more water, you know keeping them hydrated is more challenging than simply handing them a glass of plain H2O. Here’s how to get kids to drink water when they are reluctant to do so.  

1. Serve Fluid Filled Foods

Is your child not drinking enough fluids? Try supplementing drinks for something more solid. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups along with other healthy drinks like tea can be a great source of hydration.

2. Work With Your Child’s School

School will also influence how much water kids drink. Some schools are not able to provide clean tap water because of older plumbing or lack of filtration. Administrators can make sure they provide clean and filtered drinking water in the cafeteria and throughout the school campus without stretching their funding by switching to a Quench bottleless water cooler or sparkling water machine (see below).

3. Steer Your Children Away From Sugary Drinks

While the consumption of most fluids can improve hydration, sugary sodas and drinks often contain caffeine, a natural diuretic, which drains your body of fluids. Not to mention the added calories can negatively impact other aspects of physical health. It’s best to stick with water for children when you want to keep them well-hydrated.

If you work for a school, camp, or daycare, look into a flavored and sparkling water machine like an Elkay Smartwell or a Bevi. A flavored and sparkling water machine can satisfy sweet tooth cravings without the added sugar or calories. Need tips on how to get kids to drink water at home? Click here.

4. Purchase Your Child a Reusable Bottle

Figuring out how to get kids to drink water can be tricky. Turn it into a game. Get your child used to carrying a reusable water bottle and challenge them to drink a certain amount of water each day. Every time they meet their weekly goals, offer them a small treat like 10 extra minutes in front of the television. Reusable bottles are a great way to track water intake since most have measurement markers on the side of the bottle. This can be a fun activity and a great way to curb chronic dehydration… it’s a win-win!

5. Talk to a Doctor  

Quench Water Experts love H2O and know it can help improve your and your child’s everyday life. However, if you’re still worried about your child not drinking enough fluids and you want a more in-depth analysis of their hydration levels, talk to a medical professional or schedule an appointment with a pediatrician.  

Next time your teen is giving you attitude or your toddler is throwing a tantrum, try calming their nerves by getting some H2O in their system. Water is the magic ingredient that can give children the energy and brainpower they need to think clearly and get through their busy lives filled with school, sports, extracurriculars, and more.

About Quench Water Experts:
Our mission is to keep people healthy and hydrated in schools, daycares, camps, gyms, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other businesses across the country. Quench is your go-to source for point-of-use (POU) workplace water coolers. When you head to work or visit a local business, you can rest assured the Quench Water Experts will be there to supply you with the filtered, great-tasting water you’ll love. Learn more about Quench and our water services here.