Making sure that our kids are consuming enough water is no easy feat. Especially for their growing, active little bodies in the throes of winter. In the winter months, it can get a little bit complicated: explaining to children why they need to drink: when they are not feeling thirsty or even feeling hot. Good hydration and eating habits are just as important to tackle in the winter as in the summer, as hydration boosts our children’s immune systems, and prevents them from getting sick during peak cold and flu season.
In this blog, we’ve come up with some great habits and tricks to help you keep your head up and your kids hydrated through winter. So, here’s a toast: to a few simple tips, to help with your kid’s sips!
understanding water in the body
Having enough hydration is essential for living well and for functioning at our very best. Since our bodies are naturally made up of 70 percent water, it helps us regulate our body’s temperature and digest food optimally. Water also has the power to carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, helps cushion our joints, protects our organs and tissues, and removes waste from our bodies. The benefits of water affect our brain‘s function as well - in boosting our concentration and mental performance.
In fact, staying hydrated is the key to staying heathy and happy, especially in Winter.
This is due to the dry winter air leaves our lungs working harder than usual to warm up, causing even further dehydration in our bodies. What’s even worse for us Mums … is that winter dehydration is often overlooked, and we aren’t always aware of what we need to be doing to prevent our kids from feeling dehydrated as well!
first … the warning signs
Dehydration in a child, especially in winter, can often be hard for a parent to detect. In babies, a parched mouth, lack of tears when crying and making sure they have been wetting up to 6-8 diapers a day is a start. In younger children, pediatricians often cite crankiness, irritability and next-to-no toilet stops as a sign of dehydration. In older children: cloudy thinking, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, poor sports performance, and nausea are also signaling that something is not quite right.
start good habits early
Early childhood is a good time to start shaping good drinking habits and promoting regular water intake. The amount your little one needs depends on a few factors; their age, size, and level of activity. As a general guide, kiddies under 8 should drink between 4-5 glasses of water.
For the bigger kids 9 years plus, a minimum of 6 glasses is recommended (according to betterhealth.vic.gov.au). Make sure water and cups are easily accessible to kids of all ages and give regular reminders throughout the day. Go on, ‘water’ you are waiting for!
start a drinking water goal
A great idea is to invest in a time measured easy-to-carry refillable water bottle for school, with daily times marked on the bottle to follow throughout the day, giving your kids up to two litres of hydration daily. Otherwise, creating a schedule for drinking every two hours helps too: like when their favourite TV show is starting, or right before any physical activity.
Even if you’re not heading out, keep a filled drink bottle handy for kid’s regular sips throughout the day. Let your kids choose their own bottle in their favorite colors, with a favourite character, or picture on it. Our drink bottle is designed specifically for little hands and big thirsts and comes in an array of cool colors for cool cats! Offer water with meals and snacks and encourage drinking after physical activity. Don’t forget to do the same yourself - leading by example helps kids to learn.
make liquid interesting
Venture to the veggie patch and collect some tasty treats to add to your water jug and drink bottles. Try adding slices of fruit like lemon or orange, for fun and flavour. And herbs like mint are a tasty addition too. No veggies in your patch? No problem! Head to the fridge for frozen goodies like raspberries and blueberries! Then serve in colourful glasses with silicone straws, or fun sippy cups .
eat hydrating foods
Water-boosting foods such as green leafy vegetables, milk, oranges, strawberries, lychees, oatmeal, cantaloupe, celery, and yogurt are all a great way to sneak in more water into your daily diet. Also, try to limit your intake of fried and processed foods (such as cake, pasta, pastries, chips, white bread, and pizza) as they draw out moisture from the body, leaving you feeling thirsty afterwards.
eat immune-boosting foods
Kids need immune-boosting foods to fight bacteria in wintertime. So why not bulk up your kid’s meals with protein such as beef? It contains zinc, which is vital in producing white blood cells that combat bacteria in our systems.
Consuming fruits that are rich in vitamin C— such as oranges, pomegranates, strawberries, and raspberries, are another great way to go. Yogurt is also a winning food, as it also contains probiotics – an ingredient that also keeps the digestive system free from disease-causing germs.
Lastly, don’t forget garlic, as it contains allicin, a compound that also fights bacteria and flu-ridden infections.
add milk to their cereal
A great way to start the day for your kid’s liquid intake, is to add milk to their cereal at breakfast time. In fact, you can even choose to give them turmeric milk. This healthy drink is enriched with antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties.
To spice it up you can even add blended dried fruit powder: including almonds, pistachios, cashews, saffron and nutmeg for a boost of healthy goodness!
feed them potassium rich foods
Although bananas may seem like more of a summer fruit, did you know it is quite beneficial for winter as well? Bananas are full of potassium, which helps transport water throughout the body. Other foods which are great sources of potassium are spinach, peas, Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes!
include a bowl of fruit or veggies to every meal
Did you know that best way to manage your kid’s hydration levels is to feed them winter fruits and vegetables with every meal? These food groups are an excellent source of water and can keep your little cherubs regularly hydrated. In fact, many fruits and vegies have a high-water content! Apples for instance, are made of 84% water, and cucumbers made of 95% water.
You can even include bowls of fruit or veggies: such as watermelon, strawberries, oranges, celery, and tomatoes with every meal. This way, you’ll know exactly how much water your child is consuming, even if it is hidden in foods.
give them warm fluids
Why not try giving them warm fluids, to sooth your kids and keep their inner body temperature optimally balanced. Warm water with lemon, green tea, cinnamon tea, kid-friendly herbal tea, or even a hot cocoa perhaps? These are all good for the body and for the soul! Serve in our insulated drink bottle to keep warm and cosy for hours or get out the tea set and have an afternoon tea party!
make some flavoured homemade drinks
Coconut water, fruit juices or smoothies are great snacks choices to keep their hydration going. In this way, not only are you keeping kids hydrated, but you are ensuring they hit their servings of water at each meal - especially if kids in winter often don’t feel thirsty and then forget to drink water!
Juices made from Apples, Oranges, Pineapple, Carrots and Beet root will invigorate your child’s health with nutrition and boost their immune system.
Serving drinks at room temperature is also a good idea, as it keeps the body at an ideal, steady temperature, as opposed to cold drinks that make the body work harder to adjust to, which means that the energy expended to do this will make us lose heat faster, instead of retaining it for warmth.
make some soups
Making warm soups and broths is a great, comfort-driven way to keep your kids hydrated in winter. Not only do they warm up the body, but they also contain a healthy amount of salt that help the body retain water. Great ideas for soup-making are Tomato soup, Lentil soup, Spinach soup, Pumpkin soup, and Chicken soup, as they have the most flavour and for their nutrition value.
breastfeed more often
Looking for a convenient way to hydrate your newborn baby? Why not simply breastfeed more often. Frequent breastfeeding is not only an instant way to keep your baby hydrated, but it will also give them the right number of antibodies to increase their immunity in winter!
make lukewarm baths
Although it’s tempting to draw a hot bath in winter, choosing a lukewarm bath instead has a few healthy benefits. Rinsing your face and hands in lukewarm water avoids stripping away the oils we need on our skin to stay hydrated. Another great way to keep the moisture on your kid’s skin, is to use a moisturizing lotion purely designed for the cold winter months. You can find lotions made of natural ingredients designed for winter: like lavender, chamomile, and jojoba.
avoid excessive bathing
Though bath time can be a precious time for a fulfilling mother/baby connection, it may help your baby’s skin by cutting the time shorter, to avoid over-washing your baby. This is because it can create dry skin and irritated conditions like eczema. To combat this, It helps to avoid fragrant skin products, by using a plain, unperfumed sorbolene cream instead of soap.
use a humidifier or evapotranspiration
What we don’t realise in the cold winter months, is that by using our heater or fireplace excessively, it can become dry inside our homes, and then dry out our children’s sensitive skins. By purchasing a humidifier, it can create moistness and reduce the dry air in the room.
Or, instead of a humidifier, you can place a few indoor plants in your child’s room, creating a process called ‘evapotranspiration’: a process whereby water from the plant’s soil makes its way up through the roots and stems of the plants, and then lastly up to the leaves, where the water evaporates into the air through the pores on the leaves. Peace lily, Snake plants, Jade plants, Boston fern and English ivy are some of the many plants you can invest in for this purpose!
let your kids play outdoors and in layers
It may seem safer to keep the kids indoors on a cold winter’s day, but the truth is, playing all day in a heated house can dry everyone out. Instead, let your children play outside in the sunshine, and let the cold air’s moisture penetrate naturally into your child’s body.
Fresh, cold air can be refreshing and so beneficial to your child’s health – as long as your kids are dressed warmly and in layers.
Despite what we may think about the coldness of winter, dressing your baby or toddler in a heavy-duty woolen winter coat or wrapped in a heavy blanket may not necessarily keep them as warm as you think, and may even cause sweatiness and itchiness to occur.
Sweating may reduce their body’s ability to regulate temperature, and your body may have to work harder to cool the body down. So instead, dress them in layered, breathable clothing. This helps absorb your child’s perspiration, and helps keep their bodies warm, insulated and above all, hydrated.
Winter is a season for fun and togetherness. For families to stay happy, healthy, warm, and cozy. Much like your car requiring extra fuel to stay energized on the road, it is up to us to teach our children about filling their bodies with the right nutrients and proper hydration it takes to fight off wintry viruses and infections. So, when the cold strikes in wintertime, don’t hesitate to boost your family’s vitality: by hydrate mindfully, adequately, and thoroughly.