The Magic Elmo Straw
To say my son is opinionated is an understatement. He turned two just a few months ago and has blossomed into a full-fledged, walking and talking bundle of opinions. This behavior, appropriate as it may be, has made meal times challenging to say the least. Combine this quality with the barely-can-sit-still, too-busy-playing mindset of most toddlers and preschoolers, and regular fluid intake also becomes a major stalemate. While there are times when Aidan eats nothing, I try not to worry about it because I know there will always be another meal. I do, however, worry when he does not want to drink, particularly as the weather gets warmer.
Why worry about fluids? Well, to start, little kids do not have the same thirst sensation that adults do. You can’t always count on a toddler or preschool to drink because they are thirsty. Little kids also are not able to thermo-regulate their bodies the way the adults and older kids can which means their potential to overheat is higher. These factors make dehydration a big concern for younger children. Adults have to constantly offer fluids and try to stay on top of what their kids are drinking, especially during hot weather or vigorous activity. If you’ve ever tried to get your kid to stop running around the playground long enough to take a few sips of water, you’re probably thinking, easier said than done.
Enter my secret weapon; the Elmo straw. I can’t say that I knew ahead of time how amazing the Elmo straw would turn out to be. Aidan got it in his goody-bag at a birthday party and insisted on using it when we got home. It became pretty obvious in just a few minutes how valuable the Elmo straw would become. Something about that twisty piece of colored plastic makes him so happy and willing to drink milk, water, juice or anything else that is needed. I probably could give him mud in a cup and he’d happily drink it as long as he could use his Elmo straw (haha!). This is my key to keeping him hydrated. The added bonus is that he will suck down all of his milk at meals without a single word of protest. These days that’s practically a miracle. Particularly on nights when he doesn’t want to eat anything else on his plate, I can count on him getting some nutrition by drinking his milk.
If you are struggling to get your little one to drink enough, maybe you need to find your child’s Elmo (or Dora, or Buzz, or whoever…) straw. Normally I don’t advocate for gimmicks but I will say that every once in a while having something that makes life easier and keeps your little one happy helps us all maintain a little sanity.