Parents often complain that their toddlers do not drink water, plainly refusing to even have a sip. The first thing that comes to my mind on hearing this is – “what does your child drink then?” Water is essential for all of us, children and adults alike, so if you have a toddler who refuses to drink water, you need to step up, take charge and make sure you raise a ‘water-drinker’.
How Much Water Does A Toddler Need Everyday?
Up until the age of 6 months, babies get all the necessary hydration from breastmilk or formula. As your baby takes the step to eating semi-solids and solids, he also needs to have ample water. Though milk still plays the larger role in your baby’s diet, it should not be more than 24-32 ounces a day, in a cycle of 24 hours.
The rest of the fluid intake should preferably come from bottles and cups of water. A baby in the age group of 1-3 years should ideally have about 1.3 litres of water everyday, which is the Adequate Intake (AI) referred by the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water for children in the mentioned age group. Kids who suffer from constipation may need more.
Note that though diluted fruit juices, soups etc. all are liquid, you must try to make your toddler have atleast 500 mL of plain water.
Benefits of water for toddlers
Water has no nutrients, but it is important for your child’s health and well-being. Some of the benefits of drinking ample water are-
- Water aids digestion, absorbing the nutrients from food
- Water prevents constipation, urinary tract infections and other ailments
- It is water that make the proper blood circulation in the body possible and also maintains body temperature
- It also helps transport nutrients and oxygen to cells
- The joints are cushioned with water and it protects other organs and tissues
- Water is the main key that maintains electrolyte balance in the body
10 Tips To Make Your Toddler Drink More Water
As kids grow, parents tend to offer juices and other beverages – which is unhealthy (loaded with sugars) and do not provide children the necessary benefits that only water can offer. Moreover, if the milk intake is high, toddlers may refuse water because they hardly have room for it. Though juices do provide the necessary hydration, they contain too many calories, sugars and can cause dental problems. So the best bet is- water!
1. Ignore the tantrums
The next time your child demands juice, offer her a cup of water. There will be resistance, there will be tantrums, but eventually, the thirst will take over and your munchkin will drink some water. Giving in at the slightest tantrum only sends in the wrong message.
2. Play with cups
Get a cup or sipper that she may like to drink from. Better, take her shopping with you. Play around with different shapes, sizes and colours to finally find a fit. Slowly, but gradually, she will accept that she has to drink water.
3. Make your baby’s food a bit runny
If you are worried about your child’s water intake, you can try giving her water by making her food a bit runny. You could make soups, or purees that are slightly runny. Or cooked rice that are soggy. She will get some water content out of these runny foods.
You can also make her have fruits that have higher water content such as cucumbers, tomatoes, pears etc.These are examples of foods that naturally contain high water content. Cut them up for her to nibble, or make them into purees and serve her.
4. Offer her water when the mood is good
Never attempt anything with a toddler who is not feeling good. Offer her the sipper or the cup when she is playful and cheery, not when she has already been refused something she has been insisting on. Mind the timing.
5. Be a role model
Now if you are yourself a bad water drinker, you cannot expect your child to drink water! Children are great at copying. So make sure she sees you sipping water quite often, and everytime she sees you, make it a point to offer her a cup. Atleast 2 out of 5 times she is likely to drink. The more she sees you and other family members emphasise on water, the more she will be tuned into it.
You can take it a notch up by playing water drinking games. Both of you can keep bottles and see how finishes first. The one who does, gets a reward like a bite off the apple pie or a cookie.
6. Offer water during and after meals
Offer your child water after every two-or three bites during the meal. She may refuse at times; she may have at other times. When she seems distracted, offer her the sipper. However, make sure that the water intake does not interfere her intake of food. Offer her the sipper after meals as well, when she has been fed and is not hungry anymore.
7. Make it accessible
If children have their own water bottles, own cups and glasses and access to water dispensers, they will take an interest in having it. Fetching you own water bottle to drink can be fun for a 3 year old. Trust me, my daughter empties her water bottle so that she can refill it on her own through the dispenser. And I make sure the dispenser is always in her reach.
8. Be patient
Toddlers can be difficult. Keep trying and do not get tempted to give her juice or other beverages because once you do that, you will have to try harder to get her to drink water again. Always make sure that the water cup is within her reach and sight. The intake may be low at first, but it will gradually pick up.
Skipping the math, we suggest you let your child’s thirst be the guide. Watch the colour of your child’s urine – the yellowness indicates that he needs more water while clear urine is a sign he is adequately hydrated. So basis the cue, inculcate the habit of drinking water from early on. It is always easy at a younger age.
And also be thankful that you and I have access to clean drinking water. Make sure your child understands it to and learns never to waste water. Be grateful for all that God has given us, for all that we take for granted.