My toddler refuses to drink water. What should I do?
“If a child refuses to drink water, my first question is always, ‘What does he drink?’” says Michael Lee, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. “In most cases, it’s too much milk or lots of juice.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers should drink no more than three 8 oz. cups of milk a day. Most of the rest of their fluid intake should be water. An occasional cup of juice is fine, but juice contains too many calories and too much sugar for regular consumption.
Try cutting back on other beverages and bumping up access to water. Offer water frequently, and make sure your child knows he can have water at any time. If your toddler requests another beverage, offer water instead — and ignore any resulting tantrums (as best you can, at least!). Remember: He won’t get dehydrated if you refuse to give him juice or an extra cup of milk; eventually, his thirst drive will take over and he will drink some water.
It may take some time acclimate your child’s taste buds, but sooner or later, he’ll start drinking more water.
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