Good health in childhood puts in place the foundations for lifelong wellbeing – an essential part of which is establishing the practice of drinking plenty of water from an early age. But some parents have more luck than others at getting their children to drink enough and stay hydrated.
While there are plenty of tricks that can be employed to encourage your child to consume enough drinking water, it is worth taking the time to explain why hydration is so important to children.
Make the science simple
Water makes up 70 percent of a child’s body – explain that they are ‘more special’ than adults as they have more water in their bodies than grown-ups and need to take care to keep their water levels topped up.
Fuel the body like a machine
Fill up a glass of filtered drinking water and explain it is this simple substance that keeps their body working just like fuel for a car. Just as cars need to be filled up at the garage to keep moving, children need to refuel to keep moving with glasses of filtered drinking water.
This water travels around the body to keep every little bit working – keeping hands and feet moving, eyes open and their mind thinking.
Soak up the science with a practical demonstration
Use a dry sponge to show how water can bring physical change. Soak the sponge with water and get your child to explain how it feels – soft, heavy, bouncy, full of life, wet – and explain that only when water is added can it do what it is meant to properly.
Encourage your child to squeeze the water out of the sponge and describe what happens as it loses water – it loses its bounce, feels rough – and doesn’t work properly. Discuss how human bodies lose water too and how that happens – going to the toilet, running around and sweating, getting too hot.
Explain that, just like a sponge, unless we replace the fluid loss by drinking more water, children too can lose their bounce and struggle to do their job of having fun because they will feel tired and flat – just like a dried sponge.
Finally, leave the sponge out somewhere to dry out naturally and get the children to check how it’s form changes and talk about how dry and tough it becomes. Explain that without any outside pressure the sponge will still lose water as it dries out naturally. Tell them this is just the same as the human body, which will still lose water even if children are not running around using it up.
For a final flourish pour water onto the dehydrated sponge and watch together as it fills with water and recovers its bounce – explain to your children that they are just the same but that drinking water in little bits is the best way to stop their bodies drying out and becoming dehydrated.