How to get your child to drink more water

Expert tips and advice

December 12 2018

It can be difficult to encourage adults to drink enough water, let alone our children. While they don’t need two litres a day, it is very important to put steps into place to ensure your baby and toddler are drinking an adequate amount of water every day. This ensures your child won’t be dehydrated, helps maintain healthy teeth and sets up good habits for life.

Children are active and their little bodies lose water through breathing, sweating and digestion. It might be an uphill battle, especially for willful toddlers who one day just won’t drink water, but there are many ways to creatively offer more h2O into their days.

How much should your baby/toddler drink?

Before 12 months your baby gets all she needs from breastmilk and formula, but from 6 months you can start to offer sips of water. This helps your child get used to the taste of water as well as the action of drinking from a cup or straw.

Between 9 and 12 months you should encourage more drinking, but really only a few sips a day.

After your child’s first birthday she can drink tap water freely, so long as it’s not disrupting meals or milk feeds.

You’ll know if your baby or toddler isn’t getting enough water if she is producing drier than usual nappies, has dry or cracked lips or appears weak. If you’re concerned she is dehydrated, speak to a doctor.

When should I seek extra medical advice?

As long as she is feeding well dehydration is unlikely but can coincide with colds and flus, so keep an eye on her and seek medical advice if your child’s mood has changed or if she is lethargic or irritable.

Help, my baby won’t drink water!
If your child is refusing, here are some tips to help them drink more water…

1. Ditch the baby bottle
Not only can this be confusing for bottle-fed bubs, it’s not a good habit to create. Use a non-spill cup or a bottle with a straw for water and try a few to see which one works for your baby. For toddlers who won’t drink water, let them choose a bottle as this can make the experience exciting and can encourage more water intake. Even a funky straw can seal the deal.

2. Add fruit
Although you should be getting your child used to the taste, if your toddler won’t drink water, you can jazz up the taste with a few slices of lemon or strawberries. Or, as a snack offer fruits with high water content like watermelon, pineapple and tomatoes.

3. Be a good role model
You can encourage water intake simply by being a water lover yourself. Kids love copying you, so let them learn from the best.

4. Don’t give up
It might seem like an uphill battle but habits form over time. Make sure there’s always water on the table with meals and offer it throughout the day. Just keep trying!

5. Be armed with water bottles
Have one with you at all times, in the car, in your bag. Murphy’s Law says my 2 year old wont drink water… until I don’t have any handy!

6. Icy-poles
This summer fill icy-pole moulds with water and fruit slices like raspberries, oranges or kiwi. This is a good one for 1 to 2 year olds who won’t drink water - kids this age usually love icy-poles and have no idea they’re drinking water!


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