Water is essential to life and is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. It increases energy and flushes out toxins, making it crucial to your health and well-being. However, most kids fail to drink enough of it, and getting them to consume more might prove difficult. After all, chocolate milk and soda are much more appealing than flavorless H2O.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make drinking water just as fun. Encourage your kids to develop good hydration habits and lay the foundation for a healthy life with these simple ideas.

1. Use a Special Cup

Sometimes, all it takes is a special cup to get your kids to drink more water. Let your littles pick out their own bottle or sippy cups that sport their favorite colors and cartoon characters. Monogrammed water bottles and ones that feature time markers can also encourage your children to keep chugging away all day.

kids decorate cup

If you’re the crafty type, you could even whip out the markers, stickers, and paint to decorate your own cups. Odds are your kids will be more apt to pick up a personalized bottle instead of a plain old plastic one.

2. Infuse It With Flavor

Most kids would rather drink juice, soda, and other sugary beverages instead of water. However, if it’s a flavor your children are missing, try infusing your water with fruit and veggies. Use combinations like apple, lemon and carrot or apricot, raspberry, and mint to add some zest to your H20. More subtle combos like cucumber and lemon are ideal for younger tikes who are just beginning to expand their flavor profile.

3. Freeze Fun Cubes

Water always tastes better when it’s icy cold, but that doesn’t mean you have to use traditional square ice cubes. Pique your kids’ curiosity and make water fun with unconventional ice cube molds. Make everything from crystal clear jewels to Queen Elsa’s castle so they can watch them bob around as they sip. Some molds even allow you to freeze stars and other shapes at the end of a straw to further incentivize hydration — and imagination.

4. Sip With Silly Straws

If you grew up using Crazy Straws, you know how much fun they are to drink out of. Whether you’re sipping apple juice or almond milk, wild and wacky siphons make the experience way more fun, and your kids will probably agree.

Look for silly straws shaped like glasses, helmets, and even animals to make hydration more enjoyable. Connectible straws can also provide hours of fun and encourage your kids to drink water before, during, and after playtime.

5. Establish a Reward System

Upping kids’ water intake can help them maintain healthy saliva levels, lose weight and even improve academic performance. However, most of these benefits are intrinsic and may take a while to notice. Thus, the promise of good health alone isn’t enough to motivate children.

Instead, you must rely on extrinsic motivators like stickers or screen time to incentivize water consumption. Establish a reward system in which your kids must hand you empty bottles to receive points or prizes. Whoever gets the most by the end of the week can win a grand prize or choose a fun activity for the whole family.

6. Eat Hydrating Foods

OK, this tip isn’t exactly helpful if you’re trying to get your kids to drink more water. However, serving and eating foods with a high water content can improve hydration — and boost nutrition — just as well. Choose items that contain at least 85% water, like celery, pineapple, spinach, and apples. Then, serve them raw or blend the ingredients to create a thirst-quenching smoothie. Top with whipped cream or sprinkles to make the concoction more kid-friendly.

7. Teach Autonomy

Maybe your littles aren’t drinking enough water because they’re strong-willed and independent. They don’t like asking for help to make ice or refill their bottle, so they forgo drinking water altogether.

In this case, it’s important to empower your kids to take charge of their health by teaching them how to make ice water themselves. Encourage autonomy and independence by showing them how to use the ice dispenser and sink. Place a stool in the kitchen so they can reach, and keep their cup in a particular spot so they can grab and go whenever they please.

Setting a Good Example

Parents are responsible for modeling the kind of behavior you want to see in your kids. If you want your children to drink more water, you should, too. Set a good example by carrying a water bottle wherever you go. Let your kids see you sip H20 at dinner, after working out, and throughout the day. If there’s any merit to the phrase “monkey see, monkey do,” you won’t have to wait very long before they start mirroring your good habits.