The British Dietetic Association recommend that children aged 1-2 years should drink 880 – 960ml water a day. This is in addition to their milk.
Does that sound like a lot? Well it is quite a bit but if we break it down into 3 meal and 2 snack times it works out at about 150-200ml at each point (a small cup).
How do I get my child to drink water?
* Offer water with every meal and snack.
* Have water available and in view at other times and prompt them if they haven’t had a drink in a while.
* Try different cups – give them a choice of cup either of colours or of type. Keep it interesting for them and help give them some control.
* Add ice to their sippy cup for a different sensation – make sure the lid is firmly on so they can’t access the ice as it is a choking hazard.
* Model drinking water – children like to copy and we all need to keep hydrated.
* Say cheers and make it into a game. Each time they do cheers they take a drink.
Signs baby is not having enough water
The best way to check baby is hydrated well is to check they have plenty of wet nappies each day. If the wet nappy is quite strong smelling, baby probably isn’t getting enough. If you are concerned about dehydration, speak to your GP.
Can I give an alternative drink?
Ideally babies and toddlers only have water and milk as it reduces their risk of tooth decay. Tooth decay is the main reason young children end up having to have a general anaesthetic in the UK. We want to avoid that so stick to water and milk if possible.
If you need to give something else, very dilute fruit juice can be given with meals although it should never be given in a bottle and it should only be given with meals so baby doesn’t have it on their teeth for long periods of time. Drinks with sweeteners or added sugar, or drinks like tea and coffee should be avoided.
Why can’t babies and toddlers have tea to drink?
Aside from the caffeine which can interfere with baby’s development, tea contains tannins which can affect the absorption of some nutrients including iron. We want baby to get all the nutrition possible from their food so avoiding tea helps them absorb the maximum amount of iron from their food.