There is often so much pressure on us to get our kids to drink enough water (and on us to drink it too!) that I wanted to share some hydrating foods that you might already be serving regularly. Which means, you probably don’t have to worry so much about actual water intake!

hydrating foods on countertop

Hydrating Foods

Did you know that most produce is over 90% water content? I didn’t either! But it’s so reassuring to know this because it can greatly reduce the pressure we feel to push cups of water.

Our bodies do need water to function well—and I definitely recommend making it available so the kids can easily access it when they’re thirsty and while they’re eating.

But honestly, I don’t think that we need to be counting cups unless we’re noticing issues (particularly on hot days) such as sluggishness or very dark colored urine. By simply making water available in a sippy cup or water bottle throughout the day and at meals and snacks, the kids will usually hit the recommended amounts.

(Plus, drinking enough water and staying hydrated with hydration foods can often help reduce issues such as toddler constipation.

Speaking of which, here are the actual recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • “At around 6 months, babies can be introduced to water. They only need about 4-8 ounces per day until they are a year old because the rest of their liquids are coming from breastmilk or formula.”
  • “To stay well hydrated, children ages 1-3 years need approximately 4 cups of beverages per day, including water or milk. This increases for older kids to around 5 cups for 4-8 year olds, and 7-8 cups for older children.”
  • “It should be noted that these amounts vary by individual and may need to be adjusted depending on levels of activity and environmental conditions like heat and humidity.”

TIP: Note that they include milk in their liquid recommendations, so count the milk your child drinks.


Hydrating Fruits, Veggies, and Drinks

Here are some examples of foods that contain high water content. Many of these probably already show up in your shopping cart!

  1. Bell Pepper
  2. Blueberries
  3. Broccoli
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Carrots
  6. Celery
  7. Cucumber
  8. Grapes
  9. Flavored water (like Hint)
  10. Honeydew
  11. Infused water (like adding crushed fruit or cucumber slices)
  12. Juice (or water with a splash of juice for flavor)
  13. Lettuce
  14. Milk
  15. Oranges (or other citrus)
  16. Peaches
  17. Pear
  18. Pineapple
  19. Popsicles
  20. Sorbet
  21. Strawberries
  22. Tomatoes
  23. Yogurt
  24. Watermelon
  25. Zucchini
Image via Shutterstock

Signs of Dehydration in Kids

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these are the signs of dehydration to keep an eye out for in little kids:

  • Fewer than normal wet diapers
  • Less urination or dark urine (urine should be very light yellow, almost clear)
  • No tears when crying
  • Dry lips or mouth
  • Sleepy and irritable
  • Flushed skin
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

TIP: Always call your pediatrician with medical concerns.

How to Help Kids Drink More Water

If you find that the kids really don’t like drinking water, you can try:

  • Flavored waters (such as Hint).
  • Adding a splash of juice to their water.
  • Adding crushed up fruit, mint, or slices of cucumber, or a squeeze of lemon or lime to it (which also adds vitamin C).
  • Letting them pick out a special cup or fun straw.
  • Put water in a reusable pouch for a novel way to serve it.
  • Letting them play with water in the sink (they’ll often drink some!).
  • Keep their bottle or cup nearby so they can drink as they’re thirsty.

TIP: Of course I should mention that my kids often prefer to drink out of my water bottle, so that may help too if you get super stuck!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much water does a toddler need to drink?

Kids aged 1-4 need about 4 cups of liquids a day, whether that’s breastmilk, water, milk, or other drinks. (Hydrating foods can go towards that goal too, and generally speaking, this is not something you need to track carefully unless there’s a medical issue.)

How can I help my kids drink more water?

Keeping their water bottle in reach can be a simple way. And if they don’t like plain water, consider adding some crushed fruit, a splash of juice, and offering some of the other hydrating foods and drinks listed above.

How do I know if my kids are dehydrated?

The easiest symptoms of dehydration to recognize in kids include fewer than normal wet diapers, less urination or urine that is very dark in color (it should be very light yellow), no tears when crying, dry lips or mouth, sleepy and irritable, and/or flushed skin.


Hydrating Food Recipes to Try

If you want a few other ideas to add more hydration into the mix, these are delicious options.

Easiest Watermelon Juice (to Share with the Kids)
This is a perfect way to use up some of a giant watermelon and is also a wonderful way to help the kids stay hydrated in the warmer months. You can scale the recipe up or down to make more or less as you like.
Easiest Watermelon Juice (to Share with the Kids)
Best Flavored Milks
Pick one flavor variation at a time or see the Notes for a few additional ideas!
Best Flavored Milks
flavored milks in grid of four images.
Easy Fruit Cups
Transform diced fruit into delicious homemade fruit cups that rival store-bought in terms of flavor and cost. You can make more cups or less, according to your preference.
Easy Fruit Cups
Fresh Watermelon Sorbet
Transform fresh watermelon into the most refreshing sorbet with one simple technique. It's a great dessert or hydration strategy to share with the kids!
Fresh Watermelon Sorbet
Easy Grape Pops (with Fresh Fruit!)
I like to make these with red grapes. Choose seedless to avoid seeds in the blender.
Easy Grape Pops (with Fresh Fruit!)
Favorite Healthy Toddler Smoothie (with Veggies!)
Learn to customize yummy smoothies for your toddler by starting with one simple recipe, then adjusting based on which fruit and veggies you'd like to use.
Favorite Healthy Toddler Smoothie (with Veggies!)
Easy Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt
Learn how to make the best fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt with all kinds of fruit flavors—and with less sugar and for less money than buying it at the store. Scale this up or down according to how many servings you're planning to make. The directions here are for one small toddler-size serving.
Easy Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt
Green Smoothie Freezer Pops
If you want to make more pops, simply double the recipe! If you have a toddler who’s super sensitive to textures, use mango instead of kiwi for extra creamy results.
Green Smoothie Freezer Pops
10 No-Cook Homemade Baby Food Recipes
You'll choose ONE ingredient to blend up—a fruit, a veggie, or beans. See the list below. You can make enough for a few days or make a double batch to freeze more baby food for future weeks. The nutrition information will vary based on which ingredients you use.
10 No-Cook Homemade Baby Food Recipes
no cook baby food purees in small bowls
Quick and Easy Pineapple Puree
Feel free to double this recipe to make a larger batch.
Quick and Easy Pineapple Puree
pineapple puree in blue bowl

Best Tips for Hydration

  • Keep water accessible in a sippy cup or bottle throughout the day and at meals and snacks. Take it with you when you go to the playground or out to play.
  • Don’t worry about counting cups, unless there’s a medical issue at play, but aim to serve and offer drinks regularly.
  • Keep some of the hydrating foods listed above in the mix, including water-rich foods like vegetables, salad, soups, fluids and drinks, melon, smoothies, bell peppers, broth, summer squash, leafy greens, citrus fruits like orange and grapefruit, lettuce, plain yogurt, and more.
  • If the color of the kids urine is darker than usual, offer additional liquids throughout the day.
  • Remember that hydration is key for lessening any struggles with constipation.
  • If you struggle with helping the kids do any of the above, try offering a popsicle in the bathtub or buying fun paper straws. Novelty can often help!
  • You may also like my favorite Drinks for Kids, the Best Sippy Cups, and my full explainer on When Babies Can Have Water.

Chime in below with any comments, questions, or feedback!

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