Self-Service Water Station for Kids: fruit-infusion optional :)

Montessori inspired self-serve fruit-infused water for preschoolers

Since it has started warming up, Luke (4) and Lilah (2) have been asking me to give them water to drink all. the. time!  Ordinarily they aren’t big drinkers, usually drinking only at meal and snack times.  When we are out and about, we use Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles which hold a decent amount, but at home, we use kid-size glasses, and they can polish off a glass of water and want a refill or two within minutes.  I thought it’d be really nice for all of us if we switched to more of a Montessori style, serve-yourself, independent system when it came to water.

So, I started thinking.  We have a water dispenser on the refrigerator, but it is INSIDE the door and higher than their heads, so that wasn’t a great option.  Refilling at the kitchen sink would involve the kids moving our anti-fatigue kitchen mat out of the way, pushing the learning tower over there, and climbing up and down on the learning tower (pretty high) with a glass in their hands.  Also, not the best option.  Leaving a pitcher of water on the table would work great except that any pitcher with enough volume to hold them over for a few hours would be too heavy for them to lift and pour from without making huge messes.

So, yesterday, after some Facebook discussion with my awesome readers, some IM’ing with my DH, and a little online research, I forwarded DH a 20%-off Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon and he came home with this:

Bed, Bath, and Beyond water dispenser

Now, ordinarily I would have wanted a glass dispenser since we try to avoid most plastics in the kitchen, but with L&L pulling on the handle of a contraption which is large, heavy, higher than their heads, and perched on the edge of a table, I figured BPA-free plastic was going to be a safer choice. 🙂   

If you’re looking for a smaller or cheaper dispenser, one reader on Facebook said they have BPA-free lemonade jars with spouts in spring colors at Walmart right now for ~$5, so there’s another option. 🙂

We washed our new drink dispenser and filled it with water last night before bed to let the kids practice.  I modeled how to fill a cup while the kids watched and then let them practice several times.  We watered our newly potted plants with the water instead of just dumping it out!  Lilah made a few dribbles and spills while filling her cup, but we keep clean-up cloths in baskets within easy reach and she cleaned up her mistakes.  

Practicing last night showed me Lilah wasn’t quite tall enough to do it with ease (hence the dribbles!), so this morning I added one of our little stools from Ikea to the setup and that made it perfect!

water dispenser set up with stool 

I put the kids’ glasses on a pull-out shelf in a lower cabinet right beside where we put the water dispenser.  If you’re interested, here are Lilah’s ~3-1/2 oz. glasses.  Here are Luke’s 5-3/4 oz. glasses.  Lilah is just starting to transition to using Luke’s glasses now.  We started both of them with the smaller version first, from around 18 months old.

Glass cups stored on pull-out shelf in cabinet

the whole self-serve water setup
The whole setup

To make this a little more special, my plan is to sometimes add fresh/frozen fruit to the water.  Today we added organic strawberries because we have TONS of them we put up in the freezer!  I let them defrost in the fridge overnight first.

Strawberry Infused Water in the drink dispenser

We also bought some organic lemons and oranges to try later in the week.  It didn’t take long at all for our water to start tasting like the strawberries.  So good and refreshing!  Others on my Facebook page also suggested that cucumbers and pineapples make refreshing “infused” water…separately, of course! 🙂 

This particular drink dispenser has a basket for the fruit you want to infuse, but I’m sure you could just throw it in to a normal dispenser and it’d work fine, too.  

Organic Strawberries in the Fruit Infusing Basket
Why infuse your water?  Well, it’s basically like flavored water that you might buy at the store, but without all the yucky stuff found in the commercial varieties.  It’s also a better option than juice because it’s not loaded with sugar!  It smells great, looks pretty, and is a nice alternative to plain water, because well, sometimes plain water just isn’t what you want.  This might be a good way to get your kids to start drinking more water if they aren’t big fans to start with.

We’ve only had our water dispenser set-up for a few hours now, but L&L have already filled their glasses at least 3 times each, with NO spills at all!  So glad we practiced last night!!!

Preschooler fixing his own drink Using fine motor skills to fill his cup

The “rules” are that L&L are to get a clean cup when they’re thirsty in the morning, fill it up, and then keep their cup at their spot at the kitchen table for the day, reusing it over and over as they become thirsty.  Here’s Lilah getting her first cup of the day:





They are very excited about being able to refill their own cups, and, like Lilah said, “The water really does taste like strawberries!”  Of course, they both like plain water a lot anyway, so the fruit-infusion is just for a little change-up.  Most days we’ll probably just have plain water, or maybe a few lemon slices thrown in.

Here are a few more pics of subsequent water refills:




I love that this setup is going to give L&L another avenue for independence and fine motor practice!  I’m hoping I’ll get back to drinking more water, too, as I have been on quite the coffee and tea kick lately.  I figure this dispenser will be great for any parties we might host in the future, too! 

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