We talk about the importance of drinking enough water, but how much is enough? Mayo Clinic says though there's no hard and fast evidence to support the "8x8 rule" (eight glasses of water with eight ounces daily), it is good mnemonic to help use remember to hydrate. They also remind us that all beverages count toward the water total (although some sources are better than others). I'm a water purist; I've never allowed much soda in my family. I've found that hydration works best when it comes directly from water or a natural vitamin drink. Fruit and 100-percent fruit juice are my alternate choices. Here are ways to get kids to drink plenty of water.
* Order water as a beverage in restaurants. Not only is it healthier to skip the pop, shakes, sugared beverages, caffeine and alcohol it will save big money on the bill. The average restaurant beverage costs at least a buck. Flavored coffee, specialty drinks, beer and wine can add an extra $4-$12 per drink. Caffeinated drinks also contribute to dehydration.
* Serve water at meals. Beverages, including milk, will fill a child up just enough that she thinks she's not hungry. Those drinks don't have enough staying power, though. If her only nourishment is a beverage, she'll soon feel hungry after meals and go looking for snacks instead of healthy foods. Also, water helps food digest better.
* Set out an insulated cooler of ice water. I always wanted one of those refrigerators that had a water dispenser in the door--until I saw what a mess my friend's made. In lieu of that and to save the expense, I found a cheap alternative. I bought a two-gallon cooler with dispensing spout. Every day in summer we refill it full of fresh ice or cold water. Water that sits in plastic containers gets tainted from the receptacle.
* Fill a glass pitcher with water and refrigerate. Kids will often choose water if it's readily available and chilled.
* Give each child a metal water bottle and keep it filled.
* Make homemade ice and juice pops. Fill an ice cube tray or small paper bathroom cups with juice or ice. Place cups in a muffin tin (to keep them from spilling while they freeze. Cover with plastic wrap. Poke toothpicks carefully through the plastic. Serve to children as popsicles. You can skip the toothpicks and use in beverages, too.
* Make vitamin popsicles. Dissolve Emergen'C (a powdered vitamin beverage) in water and freeze this too. Emergen'C is great for warding off colds and healing infections. Kids love frozen treats and it's a good way to make sure they get their vitamins. You can freeze vitamin beverages, too, but using powdered packets is significantly cheaper.
* Freeze juicy fruits. Partially freeze rinsed grapes, watermelon, pineapple, peaches, pomegranate, kiwi, oranges and strawberries for quick hydration snacks. Freezing for short periods of time crisps fruits without making them hard. You can use frozen fruit in juices in place of ice cubes. Throw them in the blender for a few minutes for a vitamin-packed fruit smoothie.