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Why won’t our baby drink water?
Q: We can’t get our 1½-year-old daughter to drink water! We have tried everything, and she still won’t drink it. She loves milk and juice, but we know that it is important for her to get water into her system. Please help. She suffers from asthma and allergies year-round.
Kim and Scott Casa Grande
A: You’re right that it’s important for children to drink fluids to keep their body systems working properly. Staying hydrated may also help reduce your daughter’s asthma and allergy symptoms. But there’s no absolute amount of water that you need to get your daughter to drink. Many children don’t naturally enjoy drinking water. Your daughter can get enough fluids from drinking milk and juice, and eating foods such as soups and juicy fruits.

At 1½, your daughter should be drinking 16 to 24 ounces of milk a day. She can also have 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day, but be sure it’s 100 percent fruit juice, not fruit drinks or fruit cocktail, which lack the nutrients and have added sugar. Avoid giving her more milk or juice than that, since it could interfere with her appetite for other healthy foods. If you want her to drink less juice, you can dilute the juice: Make it 50 percent juice and 50 percent water. You can also try making blender smoothies with different fruits (e.g., banana, melon, berries) plus milk, juice or water.

Another way to encourage your daughter to drink water is by building on her desire to imitate you. You can get a water bottle that you drink from throughout the day, and get a similar child-sized water bottle for her. Many bottled water manufacturers now make plastic bottles in large and small sizes with squirt-type tops, which toddlers can learn to use. When she sees you doing it, she’s likely to want to “be like mummy and daddy.”

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician