We’ve all had the importance of drinking water repeatedly impressed upon us throughout our lives. And, we all know the the ideal recommended daily water intake for a fully-grown adult is around 8 glasses a day—but what should we strive for in our toddlers?
It’s always a good idea to try and start good habits early and make sure your young one is taking in plenty of liquids—but that begs the question, how much is plenty?
Especially during this stage of life where your child is transitioning from breastfeeding or drinking out of a bottle to drinking liquids from a sippy cup, it is essential to make sure your child stays properly hydrated. It can also be challenging because you’re too busy making sure they don’t fall off the furniture or run in the street!
Water makes up 60% of the human body. While your toddler might be small, more than half of their body is composed of water. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why Noble Research Institute considers water to be among the most important nutrients for children and adults alike. Every single tissue and organ in your child’s body requires water to function as It is meant to. Dehydration can be a life-threatening condition, but fortunately there’s an easy fix for it—drinking water.
While adults are able to identify when their body needs water, thanks to a sense of thirst, toddlers may not be capable of recognizing thirst early on or be unable to express their need for hydration to an adult. This leaves parents at a loss for how to determine whether their toddler is well-hydrated.
The best way to find an indicator of your child’s hydration levels is to check the color of their urine. If a child is drinking enough, their urine should be a pale-yellow color. If it’s dark yellow and has a strong odor, it’s not diluted enough—meaning they need to take more fluids into their system.
Time to Weigh in on Water
The amount of fluid your toddler needs to consume on a daily basis depends on how heavy he or she is. The amount of water that your toddler should consume based on their weight is broken down as follows:
- 30 lbs or less: 32-40 ounces
- 31-41 lbs: 40-48 ounces
- 42-63 lbs: 48-56 ounces
This recommended daily fluid doesn’t have to all come from water, though. If your toddler is still drinking from a bottle or breastfeeding, you’ll be happy to know that this recommended dosage can come from a combination of water and milk.
Don’t Forget Milk!
As your child grows older, milk becomes less and less important, but don’t let it fade into the background completely! Milk serves as an important resource for both nutrition and fluid. This makes it an important contributor to your toddler’s fluid intake.
You’ve probably heard this countless times if your child is already a toddler, but milk is a high-quality source for calcium, vitamin D, and protein. It’s best for toddlers to consume 3 servings of milk daily at 4-ounces each.
What About the Juice-Lovers?
There are very few kids out there who prefer water to juice. As a result, many toddlers follow their parents into the kitchen every chance thy get asking something along the lines of, “Mommy, can I have some juice,” for possibly the hundredth time that day.
However, according to Dr. Richard Allen, there is no reason for a toddler to be drinking juice or any other beverage. It offers next to no nutritional value for them and is typically loaded with sugar. High consumption of juice at a young age has been linked with the following:
- Failure to thrive
- Chronic diarrhea
- Poor calcium intake
Of course, once your children have gotten a taste of sugary-sweet juice, there’s no going back. And besides, there’s nothing wrong with letting your toddler live a little bit, right? In this case, if you want to do the healthiest thing possible for your child, but still want to let them have a bit of juice, we understand.
The best thing to do is to avoid soda and other beverages sweetened with sugar altogether whenever you can. Instead, purchase 100% fruit juice and let them have 4-6 ounces of it per day. Alternatively, if you can also try watering down the juice to reduce their sugar intake—even if you’re buying 100% fruit juice, it still will contain sugar naturally.
What and When?
Wondering when is the best time to serve your child what beverages? We’ve got you covered. For optimal hydration and nutrition, it’s best to serve your child milk when they are eating meals and provide them with water at the times in between. When it comes to juice, you’ll want to give them their limited portion in the early afternoon or earlier in the day—you don’t want the sugar keeping them up late, after all!
Listen to Your Child
In most cases, your child will be a good judge of how much liquid they need to consume and naturally will fall around where they need to be. While they may not be too adept at recognizing thirst or not know how to ask for water when they get thirsty, if it’s in front of them, they won’t have to ask in the first place.
If you’re worried that your child is habitually not drinking enough water, or if you notice that they have not drank anything in quite some time, then try putting a cup of water somewhere near them and make sure they know it’s there. When it’s right in front of them, you may be surprised at how much they take care of it all on their own. Maybe not right away or as soon as you offer it, but give them a few minutes and see if they reach for their water themselves.