My toddler doesn't like to drink water. She doesn't seem to notice that she is thirsty, even if her pee is a dark yellow. How do I help her to recognize that her body is thirsty and that drinking enough water is wonderful?

  • 1
    Have you tried a variety of different cups? Like, different colours and straws and etc?
    – DanBeale
    Commented Mar 9, 2014 at 23:21
  • Indeed, she likes to have her own water bottle and prefers drinking from a bottle to drinking from a cup. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 19:48

3 Answers 3


I hate to drink water too. I am not a toddler, but I know how she feels. I hate the way it sits in my stomach. Here are my suggestions (including a few from my mother that worked on toddler-me):

  1. adjust the temp. She may not like cold water because it hurts her teeth, or some other reason. Try room temp instead. I actually can stand to drink an 8 oz glass of water that has been left out overnight (my husband refers to this as "stale water" but I think it tastes more pure after a day of resting) Or, perhaps it's not cold enough. Very cold water will hide any mineral or other 'flavors' the water may have.
  2. try ice chips if she doesn't mind the cold. My kids love "ice-slushies."
  3. don't force a whole glass or even a half. A sip here and there, repeated enough times, should suffice to keep her hydrated.
  4. forget water altogether. There are plenty of other sources of hydration. Fruits and veggies with a high water content, soups, decaffeinated teas, and milk are all good, healthy sources of fluid.

Starting around this age, they figure out they have control over what actually makes it into their mouth. They won't starve themselves or die of self inflicted thirst though, so just do the best you can. Start perfecting those compromising skills; you're going to need them ;)

In case you are wondering, according to babycenter you only need to get 1.3 liters (or about 4 cups) on average into her per day, and this includes intake from foods.

  • Good answer - one note, 1.3 liters is over 5 cups [1 liter ~= 1 quart = 4 cups].
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 5:23
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    One small addition: maybe flavor the water? Just a small twist of lemon or orange can change the flavor enough to make it more palatable.
    – Valkyrie
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 11:24
  • The "stale" water might have absorbed more oxygen from the air. Try pouring it between two glasses a few times and see if that works better. Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 21:01
  • and this includes intake from foods This is a widely misunderstood point. Lots of people see the "2 liters per day for an adult" and assume that they are supposed to drink 2 litres of tap water per day. It doesn't mean that. Dry foods like biscuits apart, most of what you eat is water and counts towards the total water consumed. Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 21:04

IMHO the human body is quite good at regulating such important things as water and salt balance. Kids will drink if they need to. For the same reason I am not worried when my toddler shakes some salt in his hand and licks that off. It'll even out.

  • 1
    Children won't necessarily drink if they need to. While it may be an instinctual thing to drink water, they may have a predisposed hesitation to drinking water for any number of reasons. I remember I used to not eat food, despite being absolutely starving, simply because there were people that weren't from my immediate family sitting at the table. It was an irrational fear and I got over it but it just goes to show that issues like this aren't always a physiological issue. Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 23:37

In general toddlers do drink and eat enough for them to survive as long as something is available, so unless there is some very unrealistic and rare disease, there is no need to worry about that. However survive and optimal are different things.

Kids usually love everything sweet, so instead of pure water, you might want to add something to it that changes the taste enough for her to no longer consider it water.

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