Use Sweeteners to Get Your Kid to Drink H20? Stop this Bad Habit

I was very concerned when I read a question from a reader on the CafeMom forum discussion saying that she flavors the water she gives her 2 year old daughter with Crystal Light to get her to drink more water. I don’t advocate using it because products like Crystal Light contain artificial sweetener, which may not be very healthy for young kids. Parents all over the world give their kids juices either because they think they are healthy or because they have given up with trying to give plain water.


Of course getting your child to drink more water can sometimes be a challenge and I am in the midst of that very battle myself with my 1 year old. Juices can give the impression of being “healthy” for kids, but in reality, most juices contain a lot of sugar and very little nutritional benefit. I really believe that introducing water early on is very important. When I posed the question to a pediatrician friend about how to get my son to drink more water, he wisely replied “Don’t worry- he will drink when he’s thirsty. When he wants to drink, be sure to give him water.”


I am at the point where I am transitioning away from bottles, and I find that my son knows what he’s getting to drink based on what sippy cup we are using. I persist with primarily giving him water, but I make sure to use different cups for different drinks. When I occasionally give him watered-down juice (3 parts water to 1 part juice) I am careful not to use the same cup that I use for plain water. If you feel you absolutely need to use a flavoring, gradually add less and less over time to the cup until you are only giving your child water. When you are dealing with an extreme situation like preventing dehydration, these rules are more relaxed and use your discretion (and your pediatrician’s advice) about using products like Pedialyte.


What do you do to get your kids to drink more water? Feel free to join in on the conversation in the comments section. I’ll respond and let you know my thoughts on your tips.


One Response


I like your idea of different cups for different drinks. We don’t give much juice and my son does fine with water but when i want to make sure he gets some liquid in quickly, my son loves it when we share herbal iced tea (passion fruit from starbucks is our favorite). I order one and get a small cup of ice/water for him, and I just add a little of the unsweetened tea. It turns pink and looks like mommy’s, and he loves it. No caffeine or sweetener so it seems like an okay choice.

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Dr. Gelman lives in midtown Manhattan with her husband Shimon Shkury and her son Ariel Moshe who was born in July 2009. Dr. Gelman is dedicated to providing pediatric dental care in a warm, nurturing environment. She looks forward to welcoming you to her practice!