Getting Kids to Drink More Water

With the onset of the warm months it is important for everyone to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. This is especially true for children, who can become overheated and dehydrated very quickly.

Take our own situation for example. After a round of visits to the doctor for a urinary tract infection a month ago, we have been super-vigilant with our 3 1/2 year old’s elimination habits – making sure she wipes properly, etc. But when she complained that her girl parts hurt a week ago, I was convinced she had contracted another UTI. Off to the doctor we went and submitted a urine sample for testing. The results came back negative for a UTI, but the doctor advised that her pH levels were higher than they should be and to encourage her to drink more water.

In a nation where soda and fruit juice are so prevalent, we have been making a conscious effort to no longer stock soda and limit access to fruit juices – presenting milk and water as choices at meals. That has worked reasonably well, but I found that our daughter was choosing milk over water pretty consistently. How could I make water a more pleasant alternative? The answer came to me this past week as we prepared to teach a cooking with fresh herbs class – “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Cultivating and Cooking with Fresh Herbs.”

My husband Dave had made a mint syrup to add to the iced tea we would be serving at the event. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • large handful of mint leaves (approximately 1 cup)

Put mint leaves in food processor w/1 tablespoon sugar (as an abrasive) and 1-2 tablespoons of water. Blend until mint is finely minced. Bring the water and mint leaves to a boil in a small saucepan, add remaining sugar. Boil for 2-5 minutes or longer if you want the syrup thicker. Strain syrup through a fine sieve to remove any particulate matter. Store in a closed container for up to two weeks at room temperature or up to twelve months in the refrigerator.

Add just 1/2 teaspoon of mint syrup to a cup and add 6-8 ounces of cold water. This will give the water a clean, minty taste. Our daughter loves the taste of it and asks for it regularly. The amount of sugar (when you consider that you are only adding 1/2 teaspoon is negligible to the benefits that drinking the water gives her. Also, mint helps digestion!

My husband also made a ginger syrup for the more ‘adult’ tastebuds…the only difference is he substituted a ‘hand’ of fresh ginger (finely chopped) for the mint. If you don’t feel like making your own, try a Torini syrup in a flavor your child will enjoy. Just 1/2 teaspoon will flavor the water and make water a far more appealing choice!

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