Home Health I'm a nutritionist – this simple fix will make children less moody

I'm a nutritionist – this simple fix will make children less moody

All children can be stroppy, but if yours seems more irritable and tired, or is just harder work, than usual, it could be down to a lack of water. Unfortunately, getting kids to drink can feel like an ongoing battle for many parents, but it’s one that it is worth persisting with.

Child nutritionist Zoe Griffiths says: “Thinking about whether your child has had enough to drink is up there on the list of things parents worry about daily, alongside getting them to eat a decent amount of fruit and veg, or controlling how much screen time they are having.”

But it isn’t just moodiness that is helped with a good glug. “Staying hydrated is important for children’s bodies. Fluid intake is essential to transport nutrients, remove waste products in urine, regulate body temperature through sweating and lubricate and cushion  joints.

“Drinking enough also helps to prevent constipation which is a common problem in young children.”

So how do you ensure your little one is quenching their thirst, without resorting to sugary squashes and fizzy pop?

Have a routine: “Try to encourage your child to take a drink at regular intervals throughout the day including mealtimes, snack times and during activities,” advises Zoe, who is working with Cumbrian natural mineral water brand Aqua Pura.

“If a drink is always sitting next to them at supper, reaching for it becomes automatic, rather than something you have to keep -reminding them about.”

Aim high: “Children like to feel in control and responsible for tasks, so talk to them about the importance of staying hydrated and suggest that they aim to drink six to eight cups of water per day, so they have a ballpark target to work towards,” says Zoe.

Lead by example: “Let your child see you drink water. Children idolise the adults in their lives and will copy what you do, so if you are drinking water, they will too,” Zoe adds.

Help yourself: “Encourage slightly older children to help themselves to water,” says Zoe.

“Place cups by the tap and have a bottle or jug of water on the table at mealtimes. If you have a drink of water in reach of your child at all times, they can sip when they want. It encourages independence and makes them more likely to self regulate.

“Children love quirky straws or bottles and using them can -encourage them to drink more. Sometimes an item with their favourite character on is enough of a motivation to help them increase their water intake.”

Experiment with flavours: “Often little ones say that water tastes boring, so experiment with infusing water with different flavours like orange and lime slices, berries or mint and cucumber,” suggests Zoe.

“It’s possible to boost your water intake via fruits and vegetables – we get about 20 per cent of our daily intake from our food, so try enticing children by getting creative and making fruit smoothies with them, but it should be limited to 150ml a day because of the sugar content. Or how about making fruit ice cubes by freezing blueberries or lemon slices into water filled ice cube trays?

“Fruit and veg like watermelon and cucumber are naturally high in water so make a great snack to help stay hydrated on hot days. Milk is also a healthy, hydrating choice and will help top up their calcium intake while you’re at it.”

Everywhere you go: “Try tasking children to fill up their own water bottle to take with them when they leave the house, or keep bottles of water in the boot of your car so you’ve always got plenty of liquids to hand. It’s all about building healthy habits,” says Zoe.


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