The vocal folds need to be lubricated with a thin layer of mucus in order to vibrate efficiently. If the vocal folds are not properly lubricated, your voice may become hoarse or scratchy, or you may experience vocal fatigue or “vocal fry”. The best lubrication can be achieved by drinking plenty of water. Drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol will actually dehydrate or dry out the vocal folds. Caffeine and alcohol pull water out of your system and deplete the vocal folds of needed lubrication. Caffeinated drinks include coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Small amounts of these beverages are acceptable but must be counterbalanced by drinking more water. (Texas Voice Center, 2016) A good rule of thumb (if you have normal kidneys and heart function) is to drink at least two quarts of water daily. Dr. Van Lawrence, a world-renowned Laryngologist, often said, “Drink until you pee pale.” It is important for children and adults to drink enough water every day. (Texas Voice Center, 2016)
The traditional honey bear straw cup, an idea recommended to SLPs for many years, and continues to be a popular method for helping kids learn to drink liquids today. For smaller hands, the 6-ounce honey bear straw cup with the flexible straw will be most beneficial. The tiny size is perfect for a toddler’s grasp and the ideal height placed on the table for a smaller child. Parents can add self-adherent wrap or a few clean wide rubber bands to the bear’s belly to provide added grip. Be sure the wrap and the rubber bands are tight enough that little fingers cannot get underneath and get caught. With such a small cup, it’s easier for kids to “drink it’s all gone” and be ready to refill it throughout the day. The cup is also “see-through” allowing kids to see how much is left before they are all done! Refilling the cup gets kids thinking about drinking water, and that’s the key. (Potock, 2016)
Making infused water is another way to get your child and family drinking more water! Involve your child in food preparation! Adding fruits, herbs, and vegetables to create subtly flavored water is an excellent way to get kids involved in handling new foods, encouraging them to drink more water and also trying a new food. Using kid-safe knives, help kids slice cucumbers, mint, watermelon, and other foods to add to the water. Popular combinations include oranges and strawberries, cucumbers and mint, pomegranate seeds and cantaloupe. Eating more fruits and vegetables that are high-water-concentrated is another way to increase water intake! “Juicy” fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, radishes, and celery all contain water which can help in overall intake. (MacMillan, 2016) Eating these foods will aid in increasing hydration, however, drinking the daily recommended amount of water is the most effective way.
Parents and caregivers should always model good hydrating habits! Remember drinking enough water everyday is the best way to keep your body, and your vocal folds healthy. Kids learn best through modeling, grab your water and enjoy!
Gabrielle Cormace M.S., CF-SLP
MacMillan, A. (2016). 15 Foods That Will Help You Stay Hydrated. Retrieved from Health.com: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20709014,00.html/view-all
Potock, M. (2016, October 13). The ASHA Leader Blog. Retrieved from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: http://blog.asha.org/2016/10/13/5-fun-ways-to-get-kids-drinking-more-water/
Texas Voice Center. (2016). Advice For Care Of The Voice. Retrieved from Texas Voice Center: http://www.texasvoicecenter.com/advice.html