Water is extremely important in the daily diet – for both adult and child. But what to do when the youngest household member unwillingly reaches for a glass of water, at the same time glancing towards the colourful, sweet drinks? How to make your child voluntarily choose water as soon as they feel thirsty? Iwona Gryszkin, MSc, a dietitian from the Gryszkin Diet Clinic, reveals several clever ways.
One has to drink water – this is obvious. It is necessary for correct functioning of our entire body, which needs it more than food. However, whilst to the adults logical and substantial arguments will speak – even if they does not like the taste of water – the matters are more complicated in case of a child. What does it mean that one must, when the lemonade or juice taste a lot better, and are at the same time colourful, sweet, and occasionally with bubbles? How to convince the little one not to cover their mouth when we give them a glass of water and lead to the situation when he voluntarily reaches or asks for a bottle of crystal clear liquid? – Many children do not like the taste of water, and there may be several reasons for such state of affairs – notes Iwona Gryszkin, MSc, dietitian. – In many cases, unfortunately, it’s the adults’ fault, because we did not instil into a child the habit of reaching for water, administering juices and colourful drinks. Moreover, we must remember that our children learn from us – thus if the child does not see the parents drinking water, no wonder it chooses different liquids.
Example comes from above
The first basic principle is to teach the child proper habits from an early age – the colourful drinks should be an exception from the daily diet, and not the other way round. We should also pay more attention to how our diet looks like, as the child naturally adopts all behaviours of adults. On the one hand, through imitation the child learns about life; on the other – he or she wants to feel “grown-up”; therefore, they try to do the same thing as parents. A bottle of water should always be within reach – such “familiarising” oneself with the product is also very important. If water accompanies us in every-day activities, during walks, meals and always standing on the table – the child will learn and finally reach for it on their own. It is best to supply the house with water appropriate for both adults and the youngest ones. A good example here is recommended by the Child’s Health Centre natural spring water of low minerals content, Mammy and me. An appropriate level of mineralisation makes this product safe to use each day by people at different ages – including children and, for example, pregnant women or those in the period of lactation.
Learning appropriate eating habits from the earliest years of life is the simplest and most desirable solution. But what if we neglected it at a young age and now it is hard to convince the child to drink water? – Eating and drinking is associated by the child with pleasure; the little one most willingly reaches for those products that simply taste good. Hence their favourites are the sweet, colourful drinks, or simply those in beautiful packages. – claims Iwona Gryszkin, MSc. – Therefore, learning to drink water should be associated with something pleasant. However, if the taste of water does not bring pleasure, parents may use a few tricks, which will bring such associations. One of the methods is affecting the sense of sight. Water can be served in colourful cups – if the child has a favourite, it is good to pour a crystal clear drink into it. Serving water in a glass one may add slices of citruses or strawberries, and the whole thing could be decorated with colourful straws – such decorations will intrigue a child and encourage taking a few sips of water. If the child is fussy over the taste, one may add a few drops of lemon, orange or clementine juice. What’s very important – do not add sugar! Such action will not encourage the child to change the habit, and will just cement the conviction that only sweet drinks are good. Reaching for flavoured waters is also not a solution – it is often a bigger mixture of sugars and chemical additives than many fruit drinks.
Healthy habits should be instilled in children from the youngest age. So if we neglected it at the beginning, there is nothing to wait for – it is best to implement new rules immediately. In case of the youngest ones, we should stick mainly to one golden rule – be an example. If we do not show that water is healthy, good and should be a basic component of a daily diet – it will be futile to expect that our offspring will develop positive habits themselves.