A Toddler Who Won’t Drink Water


Water plays an important role in keeping your child hydrated. While other fluids, such as soda pops, fruit juices and milk, may help provide the necessary fluids, they may also supply additional ingredients, such as sugar, artificial colorings and fat. Encouraging your child to drink plain water can help to limit his intake of unnecessary ingredients and keep his body hydrated.

Refusal to Drink Water

Lack of fluids can lead to dehydration, although most children ask for drinks when they become thirsty. Dehydration usually occurs in toddlers because of severe vomiting and diarrhea, rather than a refusal to drink fluids. However, your toddler may refuse to drink water in favor of sweeter, flavorful drinks like fruit juices or other sugary beverages.


Milk provides valuable nutrients, especially during the first years of life, but too much milk can cause your child to fill up on liquid calories, rather than a wide range of healthy foods. Give your preschooler no more than 2 cups milk every day, limiting children over the age of 2 years to reduced-fat milk. By using milk as a food source, rather than a way for your toddler to quench his thirst, you can encourage him to drink more water.

Sugary Beverages

Like many adults, toddlers often develop a taste for sweet beverages. Even though fruit juice contains nutrients, too much can cause diarrhea, tooth decay, bloating, abdominal pain and gas, as well as lead to poor nutrition. Other sweet drinks, such as soda pop, are sources of empty calories and often contain caffeine. Give children between 1 and 6 years old not more than 4 to 6 oz. of fruit juice each day.


Encouraging your child to drink water instead of sweet beverages and milk can be difficult. Gradually increasing his intake of water over other fluids may help him develop a taste for plain water. Dilute your child’s milk or juice with a little more water every day until your child is drinking plain water to quench his thirst. Set a good example for your child by reaching for a glass of water whenever you feel the urge to sip on a beverage.


While pickiness can drive your child’s refusal to drink water, health problems may also be the cause. Consult your pediatrician immediately if your child has problems swallowing or shows signs of dehydration, such as a decrease in urine.



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