Ways to get your child to choose water
Water does taste different depending on where it is sourced. Water from natural springs, wells, boreholes, ’the tap’ and bottled water, which has undergone various forms of filtration and purification, will all taste different. This may lead to a familiarity and/or preference which once established, could make it difficult for anyone to drink water from another particular source. This can be a problem, especially if the water that is the most available is not what is preferred.
The constant availability of sugar-sweetened beverages at home and school can also lead to a preference for these. Marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages on television, social media platforms, billboards and sport promotions increases the awareness of such beverages, further increasing the likelihood of these being made available to them at home, schools and sporting events. When children see their parents and other family members consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, they would want to have what everyone else is having.
To overcome these challenges, it is important that you limit the availability of such beverages in the household. This means that all family members would only be able to choose water to quench their thirst. If the taste of water is an issue, natural flavouring like mint or moringa tree leaves, slices of lemon, lime or strawberries can be added to the designated drinking water to bring about a more acceptable flavour without impacting the energy density. The taste change will also be mild enough to not create a preference for sweet drinks.
You can also test to see if the water is more acceptable at a particular temperature – icy cold versus room temperature. Whichever flavour or temperature water that your child prefers, make sure that it’s available in that – form both at home and at school. Water bottles are easily available, and flasks keep water at whatever temperature you poured the water at. Personal water bottles are also a hygienic and safe way to keep your child hydrated when they are away from home.
As a parent, continue to model good choices by opting for water at restaurants, and rather choose a bottle of sparkling water to share when you feel like something fizzy to drink.