It’s summertime and parents oftentimes worry about their kids staying hydrated. This is especially true for children who hesitate or refuse to drink water. Is there such a think as a picky drinker?

We are all familiar with the term picky eater. Although it’s not my favorite term to describe a child who is struggling to eat, it is a common term parents use to describe the feeding difficulties they are experiencing. Parents also use the term picky drinker to describe a child that refuses to drink water, but will drink milk, soda or processed juice. Some parents tell me that their child rejects all fluids throughout the day. This generally leads to hospital visits for IV fluids and a referral for feeding therapy. To avoid this drastic measure and help a child that doesn’t like the taste of water, try some of my tips:

Veggies to Help Hydrate: Eating vegetables like iceberg or romaine lettuce will help hydrate your little one (both are primarily composed of water). If you have a hesitant eater that hasn’t yet learned to eat lettuce, discover how to introduce lettuce to your kiddo here. Other green veggies that are packed with water are green peppers, cucumbers and celery.

Fruits to Help Hydrate: Whenever it gets warm outside, I crave watermelon. And I make sure that my pediatric clients learn how to eat this nutrient-rich fruit too. Since watermelon is 90% water, it is a perfect fruit for our kiddos after swimming, a picnic or a hike. Some of my other summertime favorites are mangos, cantaloupe, honeydew and, of course, oranges. They all have hydrating juices, which is why you see them at soccer games and other sporting events. Introduce these fruits in a colorful fruit salad or try my childhood fruit bomb recipe. It’s the bomb!

Feeding Tools to Help Hydrate: Since hot temperatures can dehydrate children faster than adults, it’s important to make drinking water fun. Try some of these therapy hacks for making your child beg for more water!

  • Water Dropper: In feeding therapy I squeeze a fresh lemon, lime, orange or cucumber into the Happy Bowl and suck up some of the juice with a water dropper. Then, I ask the child “Should we put one drop or four drops in the water?” Usually they say “one.” The next time I ask if we should put “two or four drops?” You have created a slow and steady method plus healthy infused water that your child will enjoy!

  • Ice Cube Trays: Juicing watermelon or oranges can make a lot of sweet tasting water. I fill fun shaped ice cube trays with the juice, freeze them and then ask the child “Should we put one or four ice cubes in the water?” The next time we do this activity, I ask if they want to pick the ice cube shape. Usually, they say yes and want several ice cubes in their water! Trying this activity with your child results in drinking water with fresh ingredients that have vitamins and electrolytes, which are critical for keeping dehydration at bay!
  • Squirt Guns: I fill up squirt guns with infused water and squirt my kiddos with it. I also squirt a little into my mouth and show them how goofy it is. Next thing you know, they are opening their mouths and drinking it too! Give this a try and see who is the coolest parent on the block? YOU are!
  • Medicine Syringe: I fill a medicine syringe (without the needle) with some infused water and have the child squirt it into my mouth as a game. Next, ask your child “Should we do one squirt or four squirts into your mouth?” When you get permission, place the syringe between the gum and the back teeth and squirt slowly. Kids LOVE this game! (Be sure to squirt slowly at first, because squirting too fast may scare them or cause them to gag).

Having your kids stay hydrated will help their picky eating, speech and digestion to boot! Water fuels your child’s salvia, which aids in their speech development and contains enzymes that help digest food. When a child is able to express themselves verbally and is not experiencing diarrhea or constipation you have a child willing to try new foods and liquids! What are some of the ways you get your child to drink water? What are some of the tools you use to make drinking fun? #ezpzfun #pickydrinker #toddler 

Happy Feeding!

Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz

Dawn Winkelmann, a.k.a “Ms. Dawn”, has treated thousands of kids across the globe by helping families overcome picky eating stages and food refusals, while adding new foods into their diet. Her high success rate is attributed to Ms. Dawn bringing her education, experience, sense of humor and her favorite feeding products to the family dinner table.

You will find Ms. Dawn’s expert feeding advice to be positive and fun for the entire family! She adapts complicated feeding/swallowing research and makes it practical and easy for parents! Get ready to learn the science behind your favorite feeding products and ways to bring happy family mealtimes back!

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