As the weather gets warmer and days get longer, it's important to make sure your kids stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause all sorts of problems, from fatigue to headaches to constipation. Water is great of course, but sometimes you want something a little more exciting than just plain old H2O. Plus, to stay hydrated during the summer months or vigorous activities (like long camp days or sports practices), drinking water alone may not be enough. Minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride, are also called electrolytes that are essential for hydration and should be a part of your child’s fluid intake.
In this blog post, I share some recipes to jazz up water with electrolytes and flavor using fruits for you and your family so that you can stay healthy, active, and hydrated.
How Much Water Does My Child Need?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants need about 4-8 ounces per day until they are a year old because they receive hydration through breastmilk and/or formula. To stay well hydrated, children ages 1 thru 3 years old require approximately 4 cups of beverages per day, including water and milk. This increases to approximately 5 cups per day for children 4-8 years, and to 7-8 cups for older children. It is important to keep in mind that daily needs vary by individual and based on factors like weather, illness, and activity levels. Foods high in water content, like many fruits and vegetables, are also great sources of hydration! Some of the fruits and vegetables that are highest in water content include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, grapefruit, cucumber, zucchini, celery, lettuce, and tomato. For vigorous exercise extending beyond 1 hour per day or if your child sweats a lot, consider an electrolyte-supplemented beverage during the hot summer months. While sports drinks have a bad reputation for being high in sugar, there are many new formulas on the market with less added sugar that are specifically formulated with the optimal electrolyte ratios for rehydration. Check your nutrition facts labels.
Benefits of Fruit Infused Water
In addition to being refreshing and fun, fruit infused waters are a great way to get your kids hands on in the kitchen – which has numerous health and nutrition benefits. Don’t be afraid to get your picky eater involved in the process, too! Making these fruit infused waters is a great way to help your child learn to tolerate the sight of, interact with (such as touch), and smell fruits and herbs! Just remember to avoid pressuring them to taste or try the drinks – they will try them when they are ready! According to the SOS Approach to Feeding, there are 32 Steps to Eating. Tolerating, interacting, smelling, and touching foods are all prerequisites to eating. The more you engage kids in these hands-on activities with foods (without the pressure to eat or try them!), the more likely they will be self-driven to try new or less familiar foods in the future.
Let's get mixing!
Basic Recipe for Fruit Infused Water
MUDDLED FRUIT + HERBS + LIQUID BASE + CITRUS + OPTIONAL ADD-INS
MUDDLED FRUIT: Fruit adds a subtle sweetness that kids love plus nutrients (like Vitamin C for immunity!) to water. Pick your fruit (like strawberries, oranges, apples, pears, berries, watermelon, pitted cherries, ripe nectarins or peaches, etc.) and muddle it into the drink! I recommend using a drink muddler for this task, such as this one by Oxo. However, if you have an extra pair of hands and want to have some fun (which kids love!) then just break up pieces with you fingers, forks, and/or until they are small enough bits before putting them into the water.
HERBS: Here are a few of my favorite combinations – just chop coarsely and muddle with fruit before adding liquids. If introducing a new herb to your child for the first time, use a small amount so that they aren’t overwhelmed and scared off by the new taste. This is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the flavors (and health benefit!) of herbs.
Mint + Watermelon
Basil + Peach
Rosemary + Grapefruit
Sage + Blackberry
Lemon verbena + ANYTHING!
Cilantro + Lime + Honeydew
LIQUID BASE: Regular water works just fine for a liquid base. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try some other (more adult-friendly) options below!
Decaffeinated Herbal Tea – We love hibiscus for its gorgeous color and rich flavor. Steep four bags in a cup of boiling water to increase the density of flavor. Our favorite brand is Republic of Tea.
Lemon Water – Add the rind from a lemon to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes then let sit to infuse.
Ginger Water – Peel and coarsely chop 2” piece of ginger and bring to a boil in two cups of water. Simmer for 5 minutes then let sit to infuse.
Coconut Water – coconut water is high in potassium and has a sweet and pleasant taste. This can be a fun liquid based for flavored waters.
CITRUS: Just squeeze in some and include some slices as garnish. Have your child do the squeezing! My kids love using this citrus squeezer (works with limes and orange slices, too!):
ADD-INS (OPTIONAL): Here are some ideas for some optional add-ins. Of course, customize to add your family favorites!
Splash of sparkling water for a little extra fizz
Cucumber – Nothing screams refreshing quite like cucumber! Just peel and process in a blender to purée. About 1/2 cucumber per drink works.
Chia seed – Add chia seed to make a Chia Fresca! This seed holds more than 30x its weight in water and can help maintain hydration long after you have emptied your glass. Try adding 1 teaspoon to your glass and stir well. Let sit for 10 minutes before drinking.
Honey, stevia, or a touch of agave for added sweetness
6 Family-Friendly Recipes for Fruit Infused Water
For sparkling water, use seltzer water instead of flat water. For best results, refrigerate 2-4 hours to allow the base to soak up the flavors! Stir well and optionally strain, discarding the solids/pulp. Suggestions for optional garnishes are below! Pour over ice and enjoy! Most infused water recipes will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 2 days. Have fun experimenting with different combinations and proportions of ingredients!
Strawberry-Lime Cucumber Refresher: strawberry + thinly sliced cucumber + splash of lime + water
Cilantro-Lime Melon Cooler: honey dew + cilantro + matcha green tea (or water) + lime juice + cucumber
Ultimate Aqua Fresca: strawberry + mint + hibiscus tea (or water) + lime + sparkling water
Fuzzy Peach-Basil Chia Fresca: peach + basil + peach green tea + lemon + chia seed
Blackberry-Sage Cooler: blackberries + sage leaf [just one will do] + berry green tea + water
Citrus Rosemary Refresher: nectarine + rosemary [just a few leaves with stem for garnish] + green tea + grapefruit + cucumber
Create your own!
Want more ideas? Check out my Customizable Family Meal Planner for access to 1,000s of deliciously simple recipes! For a FREE 7-day trial, use code: GIFT7
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Hi! I’m Beth Conlon, PhD, MS, RDN
I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a PhD in Clinical Investigation, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, and Mom of 3 little ones. As a pediatric and family dietitian, I use a gentle approach to help children, adolescents, and adults overcome feeding disorders, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Through individualized care, I help clients optimize their health and improve mealtime enjoyment, while healing their relationship with food and body. Get in touch! Contact | Welcome to FTSN!
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