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How much water should a 1-year-old drink? What you need to know

Here's how to keep your little human hydrated

Toddler drinking glass of water.

Once your child is eating solid foods, they need to drink enough liquids to balance their diet out. Milk is likely still a huge part of your child’s daily diet, with them probably drinking it more than water. Although milk is important for toddlers to drink to help with the development of their bones and teeth, it’s important they drink water every day. If you’re wondering how much water should a 1-year-old drink, here’s what you need to know.

A baby drinking out of a sippy cup.
Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

How much water your child should drink

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 1-year-olds should drink 1 to 4 cups (8 to 32 ounces) of water per day and 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) per day of whole milk.

Before the age of 1, babies don’t need to drink much water. When solid food is introduced around 6 months of age, they should drink between half a cup to a cup of water per day. Once they turn 2, the daily water recommendation increases to 1 to 5 cups (8 to 40 ounces) per day.

Some medical professionals recommend 1 cup of water per year of age, so 2 cups a day for a 2-year-old, 3 cups for a 3-year-old, and so on. That’s pretty easy to remember.

A couple of toddlers drinking water.
Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock

Can a toddler drink too much water?

Overhydration is rare, but possible. Dehydration is more likely to be a cause of concern with toddlers.

Symptoms if your child needs more water

  • Diarrhea
  • Low energy
  • Not much (or no) pee
  • Dark-colored pee
  • Dry lips
  • Cold skin
  • Irritability
  • Sticky mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dizziness

Symptoms if your child has drank too much water

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite

If you notice your child isn’t eating because their stomach is full of liquids, reduce the amount of drinks you give them for a while. Constantly nursing on their sippy cup all day may disrupt their appetite, and result in them eating less. In general, there’s no limit to the amount of water you could offer a child once they turn 1, unless their lack of appetite becomes an issue.

Toddler girl drinking milk through a straw while lying on the grass. - Yuri A/Shutterstock

What about other drinks?

Water is the gold standard in hydration for kids. Sugary fruit juices, toddler milk from formula companies, and milk with added sugars like chocolate milk do more harm than good. Because these have added sugars and sweeteners, they get your child used to higher levels of sweetness. The AAP recommends no more than half a cup of fruit juice per day. Eating whole fruit is much healthier than drinking fruit juice.

While milk is also important for nutrition for 1-year-olds, they also need to drink plain old water without any sweeteners every day. It doesn’t harm their teeth and sets them up with a good palette that isn’t always craving sweetness.

While water and whole milk are the only drinks young toddlers should really have, how do you know which to offer? Too much milk could cause consequences like iron deficiency, constipation, and filling them up so that they don’t want solid foods with important nutrients.

Water is perfect for between meals to avoid too much milk. Stick to the recommended 2 to 3 cups of milk per day for the 12- to 24-month-old kids to provide the appropriate amount of healthy fats, calcium, protein, and vitamins. After the age of 2, kids could switch from whole milk to skim milk.

Toddler drinking from a sippy cup while the parents hold it.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

How to get your toddler to drink more water

Lead by example by sipping on your own water throughout the day. Toddlers are suggestible and want to steal what’s on your plate, so this tactic is pretty effective. You could also get your child involved by letting them pick out their own sippy cup and helping them fill it up themselves. Drinking water isn’t the only way to get your child hydrated. Fruits like watermelon are dripping with fluids that help keep them hydrated. Actually, around 20% of your child’s fluid intake per day comes from food.

A child drinking out of a sippy cup.

When you should offer your child more water

There are times when you need to offer more water than normal to keep your kiddo healthy and safe.

When it’s really hot outside

Remember to increase the amount of water they drink the more they sweat from hot weather.

If they’ve been extra active

Just like when you bring that water bottle to the gym or on your walk, your kiddo needs more water after a long day of movement.

If your child has a cold

Not only will this help their throat stay moist so they aren’t coughing constantly, but their body needs the water to heal and return to normal.

If they have diarrhea or have been sick

Any time your kiddo is losing fluids — no matter how it happens — they need to be replenished.

Water is just one part of a balanced diet, and you should work to balance it with other foods and drinks in your child’s daily life. Rest assured that 1 cup of water a day is enough, and it doesn’t have to be all at once, so a few sips here and there will add up. Once your kiddo is 1, make sure water becomes one of their favorite drinks to set them up for a lifetime of healthy hydrating habits.

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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