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10 Playful Tips When Your Child is Sick

Oh my, children can be a handful, especially when they’re sick.

Often times they refuse to drink anything. And staying hydrated is important for feeling better and getting healthy.

What can you do?

I remember one time when my strong-willed daughter was sick. I kept giving her lots to drink, but the sippy cups and water bottles sat on the table untouched. She felt miserable and my constant nagging didn’t help the situation.

Now what? She refused to drink anything. I called my mom, a master at playful parenting, who said three little words: “Make it fun!”

Of course! Whenever I didn’t want to do something, my parents turned the challenge into a game. It was like magic and I’d willingly cooperate. Poof, the power struggles disappeared.

You can even use playful parenting during stressful times, like this coronavirus crisis. If you need help keeping your family sane and maintaining peace inside the house, read my article featured in a parenting magazine: Keeping Your Cool During Coronavirus Quarantine.

Let’s get your sick child drinking liquids to feel better!

Please note that I’m not a health professional. I’m a mom sharing my experience, so this info is not meant to take the place of your doctor’s advice.


10 Playful Tips When Your Child is Sick

1. Play a Game

Kids love games, so create a game where the drink is the reward. Find something that your child loves and incorporate that into a game. For instance, everyone takes a drink each time someone:

  • Lands on a certain color square in a board game
  • Says a certain word during a TV show/movie (like “Simba” during The Lion King)
  • Rolls a certain number on the dice

This trick even comes in handy when I get sick. One time with a bad cold, I was watching a football game and noticed that my water bottle remained full. Time to implement a game! I decided that each time the announcer said the quarterback’s name, I’d gulp some water. Ready, set, go! Oh my, this was a star quarterback, so I heard his name every few minutes. Before too long, I had finished the entire water bottle… and another… and another. The game worked and my sore throat soon felt better.

2. Make a Party Platter of  Fruit and Veggies

It can get tiresome drinking all day long. To shake it up, give your child liquids through food. Did you know that many fruits and vegetables have over 90% of water content?

That’s a lot!

This includes yummy treats like watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, tomatoes, pears, pineapple, lettuce, and broccoli. You can even cut the pieces into interesting shapes and arrange everything on a pretty plate. Now it’s like party food!

Your child won’t even realize they’re drinking liquids.

3. Set a Timer

Set a timer to remind your child to drink and turn the activity into a game.

Ready? Go!

Get excited and jump around when the timer buzzes, let them turn it off, praise when they drink and have them help reset it for the next drinking schedule.

Related Post: How to Get a Child to Listen and Follow Directions (Simple 3-Step Process)

4. Buy Really Cool Straws

Find fun straws and save them for when your child is sick. These become a novelty and more exciting, thus your child will be more inclined to drink. Also, people tend to drink more liquid with a straw.

5. Designate Special “Sick Time” Cups

Ooh, get special “sick time” cups with your child’s favorites characters or colors. You can also buy them together ahead of time, making a big deal about the purchase. At home, find a designated spot in the cabinet.

6. Make a Smoothie

Yum, everyone loves smoothies! For fun, have your child order the smoothie, like they would in a restaurant. Then drag over a chair, so they can watch up close as it mixes in the blender.

7. Offer Popsicles

Kids love popsicles! And they’re even more delicious when your child makes them. Just pour your favorite drink into a popsicle mold and add a popsicle stick or spoon for the handle.

Don’t have a mold? No problem. Use an ice cube tray, baking muffin pan, paper cup, plastic container, or even a recycled yogurt cup.

8. Make Flavored Ice Cubes

Spiff up drinks with flavored ice cubes. Use regular ice cube trays or buy decorative ones for festive shapes. Put in treats like berries, mint, Gummy bears, and other things that your child likes.

You can also fill the tray with orange juice, coconut water, or other tasty liquids.

9. Serve Frozen Watermelon

Next time you have a watermelon, make sure to save pieces in the freezer. So they don’t stick together, place them on a cookie sheet, freeze, and then store in a container. You can even put watermelon pieces in the cup to liven up a drink.

10. Use Small Cups

Why? Because it’s easier and more rewarding for the child to finish each drink then staring at a large daunting cup.

Make Parenting Easier—and More Fun

Learn playful ways to stop struggling with your child with an entertaining, easy to read book, Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It. 

Written for busy parents, this creative approach is shared through amusing short stories with an encouraging down-to-earth tone. An Amazon #1 New Release in 7 parenting categories, this book shows how to put the fun in parenting.

Check out the glowing 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Take a peek and look inside to read snippets and see the table of contents.

Free Printable Tips Sheet

Make sure to download a free printable playful parenting tips sheet with quick to implement ideas. Hang it on your fridge or carry it with you as a reference when you need some “you got this!” support.

Do you have any tips for getting your sick child to drink liquids? Please share your ideas by commenting below.

Posted in Parenting Tips


  1. Sarah

    These are great tips. My daughter is sick and is barely drinking anything. I like your game idea. I’m going to play her favorite movie (The Lion King) and we’ll all drink when we hear Simba’s name. I love it! She’ll be drinking tons. Thank you!

    • Karen

      Thanks Sarah! I’m sorry your daughter is sick, but I’m thrilled that you can use this idea. (It’s also my favorite 🙂 ) I hope she feels better soon. Here’s to parenting playfully!

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