How much water should a two year old drink is a question that often comes up around feeding. At this age, toddlers have made the transition from infants who are primarily drinking breast milk or formula to ones that should be relying primarily on foods for their calories.
At about two, most kids are becoming more active, they can understand more things, and can often be encouraged to drink water. But just how much water should we be giving them? Well that all depends on any given day!
How much water a child should drink depends on many factors
Many different things can affect how much water a child should be drinking. From the outdoor temperature, how active your child is, how many other things they are drinking, and how much water content is in the food they are eating, there are many different aspects to consider. Which means that there really can’t be an overall recommendation that will work for every child.
How much water should a two year old drink- in ounces!
While there isn’t one recommendation that will work, there is a general guideline that we like to follow. Based on the latest recommendations 2 year olds should be drinking between 8-32 oz of water a day, or 1-4 cups. The same goes for all kids ages 1-3 years.
The range is there due to the varying amount of non-water beverages that children drink. If your child is still drinking 2 cups of milk, then they might only need 2 cups of water. But the range is also there because how much your child might drink is going to vary day to day. Our bodies can compensate for fluctuations in hydration over several days, and your child will usually regulate based on the demands on their body.
Focus on the color of your child’s urine
The best way to tell someone’s hydration status, whether they are children or adults, is to check the color of their urine. If the urine is a dark color, they need to drink more water. If it is fairly light in color, then their hydration status is good. This is a good indicator to help you gauge your toddler’s hydration status, and whether you should encourage more water or not.
How to get a toddler to drink water
Now making the recommendation that a 2 year old should drink 1-4 cups of water a day is all good and well, but how do you get them to actually do that?
First and foremost, the best thing you can do is consistently offer it, and model drinking it yourself. Giving them access to water frequently can remind them to drink, and seeing you drinking it is a great motivator. But at the end of the day, your job is to offer it. Of course there will be times where it is recommended by your doctor to push fluids as much as you can. But for normal day-to-day life, offering is all that we’re really aiming for.
Offer water with all meals and throughout the day
I like to recommend focusing on offering water at meal and snack times. Just like adults drink beverages with meals, get your child used to drinking the majority of their water at meals by simply offering it consistently while you are drinking it, too. This will often cover the majority of hydration needs as we tend to naturally drink water as we eat.
With that said, make sure your child also has free access to water throughout the day. Whether you have a straw cup that they can take with them, or a regular cup that they can reach around the house, letting them know how they can get water when they want it is key.
Add a little flavor
We want our children to get used to, and enjoy, the flavor of plain water. But sometimes, we need to give them a little help to get there. Try flavoring their water with a miniscule amount of something like lemon or lime juice. Or a squeeze from an orange or other fruit. Make it just a few drops to add some flavor to start with, and as they get used to it try decreasing it. As they adjust to the flavor, work towards completely removing the flavoring for most cups of water, and having them enjoy just the taste of water.
Try specific water bottles or cups
Novelty can sometimes win the day! Try offering a special cup or water bottle for water that your child gets excited about. You can even try marking these cups with a line or rubber band to help encourage them to drink a certain amount as they get older. Novelty and making things into a game can go a long way with kids, especially towards the end of that 2nd year and into preschool.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When it comes to parents wondering how much water should a 2 year old drink, there really isn’t one answer. Aim for anywhere between 1-4 cups a day, or 8-32 oz. Check your child’s urine color for the best indicator of their hydration status, and do your best not to stress about how much water they are drinking if their urine is an appropriate color!