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Toddlers and Drinking WATER in their Terrible Twos!

by Mamapumpkin‏
Posted on 26 October 2011

A perennial challenge for parents the world over, here’s how we have dealt with kids not wanting to drink anything. It’s OK if your kids will still drink juice or other liquids but it becomes a real problem when they won’t drink ANYTHING, and only drink when extreme thirst strikes them. My 2 girls are like that. It’s completely genetic. Their mother hardly gets thirsty and the same goes for their grandmother. We have to literally set our alarm clocks to remind us to drink. So how do you get a toddler to drink then?

Always have water ready and handy so that you can strike whilst the iron is hot. If it is juice they like, go ahead and have your diluted juice ready. Do whatever it takes, as long as your bubs are hydrated.

Now that my toddler is in her Terrible Two’s (What, you think it stops at Two? Let me tell you, it goes beyond Three! Even Four!!!), she is purposely rejecting drinking water because she is just the little rebel that she is. I have a very wilful child, the female version of Billy Idol (Rebel Yell, yo!). Due to her pure wilfulness, she’d automatically say no whenever I ask if she wants some water. The mouth is already programmed that way. Strategy? Don’t ask. Say DRINK. But it doesn’t work. She will still not drink. Why should she do what Mommy tells her to? She’ll do what she wants, when she wants. When you have a toddler like mine, no amount of threats, scolding, time-outs will make her do what she does not want to do. I am not kidding.

  1. Offer drinks when they are busy
    After some observation, my husband identified that we needed to put water in front of her lips when she was busy doing something. When she is in the midst of a jigsaw puzzle, or building a tower, or drawing…....we place some water with a straw in front of her. Tada!!! It works. She drinks! I’m not sure if it’s because there is no request to drink and water is just placed in front of her mouth that she drinks or whether she is busy concentrating on the task at hand that she just wants you out of her face as quick as possible, so she drinks to make you happy so you’d just go away. Whatever the reason, it works for us. Feed them water when they are busy playing. Deep in concentration during play, toddlers usually don’t want to be disturbed during their playtime and will drink quickly without complaints so that you get the hell out of their face.

    As hard as it is that we have to be on the ball to see when she is busy to feed her with liquids, we’d rather not have her dehydrated. Sometimes we resort to threats. Like tell her she will lose a toy if she doesn’t drink. But sometimes that backfires as she will say, OK. You can take the toy. *smile*

  2. Play ‘Yam Seng’
    Play ‘yam seng’ (cheers!) games where you have a team of teddy bears all with their drinks and all of you toast loudly to the toddler’s success in *fill in the blanks/whatever*

  3. Play Doctor and Patient
    Use a syringe and play Doctor. Keep loading your syringe with water and pretend your toddler is the patient. Shoot into their mouth and come up with different ‘medicines’ for various ailments. You can also ask them to feel the different drips that it enters their mouth, shoot slow, shoot fast and let them experience the difference. Let them even do it themselves! They will love trying to press the syringe.

  4. The Drinking Race
    Have a drinking race – this will only work if your toddler has a competitive streak to win.

  5. Science Lessons (it doesn’t matter whether they understand or not!)
    Teach your toddler about measurement. Draw lines on the cup or show her the lines on a ready made cup with measurements and explain how measurement of millilitres work. Tell your toddler what happens when she drinks and the water hits 50ml, then what happens when it hits 20ml and what happens when it hits rock bottom. Make it up if you have to.

  6. Play Pretend (great if you have one of those Rubbermaid animal water tumblers)
    Turn water into a character. Pretend that her water comes to life and is very sad because he would really like to meet his friends inside her tummy playground. She could help her water friend have fun if she drank him so he can be inside her tummy playground……

  7. Water as a FLUSH (just like a river…..or a drain!)
    Tell her that she needs to drink in order to wash down her food, or it would get stuck and she would get a stomach ache

  8. Reward System
    Bribe her – think of something really fun to do that you know she’d want to do. Then tell her that in order to do it, she’d first have to finish the water that you give her.

  9. Be Practical and Realistic
    Add watery foods into her diet like porridge, fruit, pop icicles, ice-cubes (better still, shaped and coloured ice-cubes!), ice-cream etc

  10. Make Up Stories with Water
    Change the taste of water. Add 2 drops of lemon and tell her it’s Vitamin C water and it will make her super smart and super healthy and super strong and then she can run or grow faster than anyone else in class.

The bottom line is, toddlers just want to have fun. All that’s on their minds is play, play and more play. Then kisses and hugs at bedtime. That’s their life. Drinking water and going to wee is a bloody waste of time to them thus we, as parents need to somehow weave drinking into their busy schedule of play. According to Babycenter, toddlers between one to three need 1.3 liters a day. Yes! I was shocked when my girl contracted salmonella and the Doctor said that I had to feed her at very minimum 900ml a day or he would keep her in hospital and hydrate her through the drip.

Good luck, Mommies and Daddies!!!


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