Your toddler may like water right away. If that's not the case, you may need to teach your toddler to like water. It's worth the effort: Experts say water should be your child's drink of choice after cow's milk or breast milk.
One reason is that drinking more water might help prevent obesity. Connie Evers, a child nutritionist, registered dietitian, and author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids, says, "When children are constantly given sweet-tasting beverages, they learn to associate thirst with sweets." This may promote an unhealthy sweet tooth. She recommends teaching your toddler to associate thirst with water by making it the first drink you offer.
If your child needs more incentive to drink water, here are some tricks to try:
* Serve water in a special cup or a kid-sized "mini" water bottle
* Let your child drink through a special straw
* Serve water with a lot of ice
* Flavor your child's water with a slice of cucumber or a squeeze of lemon, lime, or other fruit
* Let your child suck on ice and explain that ice is water too
* Leave sippy cups with water nearby at playtime so your child can drink at will
If your toddler drinks bottled water, you may want to ask your dentist or doctor whether you should look for a brand with (or without) added fluoride. Beware the array of "enhanced" bottled waters. Many contain additives that aren't recommended for toddlers. Be sure to steer clear of any that are sweetened or have added vitamins, minerals, or herbs that might not be healthy for your child.
At home, it's a good idea to double-check your drinking water to make sure it's clean and safe.Here's where to start:
* Call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 to ask about your local water quality.
* Find out what your local water source is.
* Check your local water report.
* Get the facts about lead in tap water.
Water in your child's food
About 25 percent of your toddler's "fluid" needs come from solid food. A typical toddler gets about 1 to 1½ cups (8 to 12 ounces) of fluids every day from water-rich foods like fruit, yogurt, and even macaroni.
Here's the water content of some popular toddler foods:
Food Percentage of water
Apple, raw 85%
Banana, raw 75%
Broccoli, cooked 89%
Brown rice, cooked 73%
Carrots, cooked and drained 90%
Grapes, raw 81%
Macaroni, cooked 62%
Oatmeal, cooked 84%
Peach, raw 89%
Sweet potato, cooked 80%
Watermelon, raw 91%
Wheat bread 36%
White rice, cooked 68%
~ Courtesy of Bridget Swinney, BabyCenter