15-Month-old REFUSES ALL LIQUIDS from EVERY BOTTLE & CUP Known to Man! HELP!

Updated on April 04, 2010
H.B. asks from Clive, IA
20 answers

My 15-month-old is driving me batty. He transitioned from breastmilk to whole milk at 13 months. At first, things went OK aside from the fact that at the transition, he decided that his previously accepted and loved cups were no longer acceptable and that the whole milk needed to be in a bottle. At that point, he was drinking ~ 24 oz. of whole milk each day in addition to eating ~ 3 jars baby food, 6 oz. yogurt, granola bar, tons of fresh fruit (probably a banana, handful of berries, some cut up pears or peaches) each day.

Now, he is eating the same amount of solids, but I am getting - AT MOST - 8 oz. of any fluid in him during a day. He started walking last month and is very much on the go. This 8 oz. includes milk, water, juice, etc. from bottles, 7 different types of sippy cups, regular cups, straws, sports bottles, etc. I'm at my wit's end. I've tried cutting down on solids, but he just cries because he's hungry. I've tried giving him liquids before his meals, but he cries for the food his 3-year-old brother has. I've placed sippy cups in every room of our home to no avail. I've tried warming the liquids, leaving them at room temp., adding ice; none of this has helped. Today, he drank a whopping 3 oz.; however, he did have 4 wet diapers and managed to urinate all over me as I gave him a bath.

Someone please tell me what is going on here. My husband and I would very much appreciate any suggestions to get this child to drink before I end up taking him for IV fluids (the doc's brilliant idea - maybe the MD can "scare" him into drinking).

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So What Happened?

In answer to Teresa . . . we're to the point that if he sees us coming with the cup, he makes a face. If you offer it to him, he immediately pushes it away. We tried chocolate milk for most of last week, and he just spit it out. He has no interest in popsicles. I can't believe I'm feeding my 15-month-old 2nd foods just to get liquid in him, but I am! I do wonder if this is some sort of weird power struggle with him, but he doesn't refuse anything besides fluids. Thanks for all your thoughts.

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answers from Seattle on

My daughter did this - I was freaking out. We stopped offering her anything to drink altogether. We just had a sippy cup, one sippy cup, of water that sat on a chair ALL day. We also left a sippy cup of milk in the refrigerator. Several times a day I would open the fridge and have her standing and looking in the fridge with me. I sometimes would ask if she wanted it. Anytime I had something to drink and she asked for some, I'd give it to her. I really think it was a power struggle. It seriously lasted probably a month. I even took her to the doctor - she said to feed her as much fruits and veggies as she'd eat and the 5 or 6 ounces that I could get her to drink each day and she should be fine for quite some time. There is lots of water in fruits and veggies. So sorry! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Try giving him a regular cup. Place it on the dining room table or his table if he has one. Tell him he can't carry it around but when he needs a drink that is his cup. At meals, same thing. My daughter was agile enough to use a regular cup at that age and she had started refusing all sippys so liquid intake was a concern. This is what worked for me. If you are concerned about spills, only allow water unless he is seated at the table.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

This is going to sound crazy, but what if you just feed him food, stop coming at him with "milk, water, juice, etc. from bottles, 7 different types of sippy cups, regular cups, straws, sports bottles, etc."

He's got you on the run, mama. Time to take back your power! Ignore it for a few days!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

In this situation I would stop ALL processed foods. Cut out processed grains like breads, crackers, etc. If you want to serve a starch, serve corn or a potato (God made instead of man made). Why? because processed foods are SO void of moisture. Vegetables and fruit have a very high percentage of water. Put the cup on the table and dont say anything. Only serve water in the cup, as other liquids (with sugar) can be dehydrating too!

ps......Water intake (for an adult) should be 8 ounces for every 20-25 pounds.
If he is drinking 8 ounces a day and is under 25 pounds, he may be getting what he needs?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Duluth on

Sorry, I don't know much about this - sounds very frustrating! The only thing that occurs to me is that if he isn't showing signs of dehydration, which of course the MD would have talked to you about, maybe this isn't that serious of a thing? Also, have you tried Popsicles (or frozen juice)? Or chocolate milk, if he is a sweet tooth? The other thought I had was to push food that has a high liquid content, such as watermelon or other fresh fruit/veggies.

What do you think is going on (just curious)? Is he just too on-the-go to stop to drink? Or is it a power struggle or some other thing? I've know moms who had to literally push bites of sandwich into their sons' mouths as they were playing. At the time I thought that was just outrageous - just make the kid sit down to eat or let him starve - but maybe some kids just need that? Have you tried basically making him take a sip while he is playing, you hold the cup?

Anyway, good luck!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We went through this exact same thing with my daughter. I was so terrified of her being dehydrated, having an ear infection, etc. After our THIRD trip to the doctor, the doctor told me there was no medical reason she wasn't drinking and to stop worrying so much. She said that my daughter was "exerting her independence" and that the more we tried to push the liquids the more she was digging in her heels. She said to continue to offer it but not make it a big deal. She also mentioned that we should give her food that contained a lot of liquid (fruit, veggies, jell-o, yogurt, etc). She said as long as she was wetting diapers, she wasn't dehydrated. So, we decided to back off and relax. The "drinking strike" lasted about 2 more days. Once we stopped making an issue out of it, she stopped making an issue out of it. She's still not a great drinker, but usually gets about 15 oz of milik a day plus some water and/or juice.

I would first make sure there's no medical reason he's not drinking (ear infection, sore throat, etc) just to ease your mind and then see if maybe you have an "independent thinker" as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

When I was trying out all sorts of different cups for my 9 month old, I was frustrated and just picked one kind of cup and he eventually figured out how to use it. If I were you, I'd give your son one kind of sippy cup plus a regular non-sippy cup. Give him two choices instead of 7. Maybe he's frustrated.



answers from Milwaukee on

Here is my advice and I have to be blunt BACK OFF! stop trying to force him to drink. You said yourself he is eating well and has 4 wet diapers a day. Baby food, and fruit all have "water".It is obvious by what you yourself wrote he is getting enough fluids. Unless he is lethergic( not active, laying around , disintrested in anything) or not wetting his diaper at all I wouldnt be concerned. I also think it might be time to give up the "baby" food and start offering him the food he is interested in (his brothers food) 15 months is old enough for table food.




answers from Sheboygan on

If he's getting 4 wet diapers, I wouldn't panic yet. ALso, at 15 months, he should be able to eat whatever everyone else is eating (as long as he has teeth, and you use common sense about choking hazards,etc).



answers from Cedar Rapids on

Sounds like he is keeping well hydrated, so I'm not sure why the doctor would suggest something as invasive as an IV if he doesn't really need it. I think kids just go through phases, and the more they see you fret over it or give the behavior attention, they are just going to keep doing it, but for right now it sounds like he is getting adequate hydration via foods. It may not be ideal, but its working for now. I would begin to worry if he starts to display sighs of dehydration (dry mouth, decreases urine output, decreased tear production etc) and I know you don't want it to get to that point, but it doesn't sound like you are at this point. And try not to make a big deal of it in front of your toddler. They LOVE any kind of attention.



answers from New York on

I am having the opposite issue with my daughter that is 2 1/2 she will drink milk all day long but does nto eat well at all. I managed to expand this to juice and water. My munchkin loves to make me nuts with this. The DR told me that they take what they need and not to worry so I am trying not to worry. I hope that your son starts to drink for you. What about if he sees you drinking it? That is how I got my daugther to drink water from my sports bottle... Just a thought...



answers from Omaha on

My first piece of advice on a potential medical issue is to call the pediatrician if you are worried about dehydration. But, your child has wet diapers, a sign of hydration, so I was always told that they survive these food issues, and eventually normalize. But, I would definately call the pediatrician to double check.



answers from Minneapolis on

sounds like your giving him to many choices-make it the bottle or sippy cup-also quit making a huge deal out of it-sounds like its turned into an attention game now.he will drink-leave a sippy cup available to him at all times.


answers from Minneapolis on

Why is he still eating baby food? GIve him what is brother has! If I were him I wouldn't want to eat the processed junk either if my brother had a plate full of real good tasting foods! He's PLENTY old enough to be off jarred foods. My boys never had jarred foods, only homemade baby food and table foods starting at 9mos. They were feeding themselves with a fork at a year old, table foods. He's plenty old enough, stop giving him processed jarred foods!

As for what he drinks, my boys never had cows milk until after 18mos old, they still nursed. THey got water with meals, and nursed. Give him a cup with meals and leave a cup of water out for him all day, nd call it good. If he doesn't drink it, don't worry about it, just put it in the fridge for the next meal. You keep pushing and freaking out about it, he will keep resisting.

My kids don't drink cows milk. The have some on their cereal in the morning, other wise they drink water. Neither is suffering, both are extremely healthy, with no ill effects. Cows milk is for baby cows, not humans.

Stop forcing baby foods on him, give him a plate and a fork and let him go to town on his own with table foods of whatever the rest of the family is eating, an give him a cup with his meals and let him drink what he wants. Slow your roll a little mama, he knows what his body needs, an its not gallons of cows milk or processed foods. He wants and needs 'big people' table foods. And stop worrying about how many ounces he drinks... I do'nt think I've EVER kept track of how many ounces my kids drink, I just gave them a cup and filled it when necessary. RELAX! Stop chasing him around, give a cup of water and give him milk with meals when you choose, and let him drink what he wants.



answers from Milwaukee on

If your son wants what his big brother is having to eat let him. Try your son on any type of cup his big brother uses. If it's an open cup just put a bit in the bopttum and let himtry. 'If he's having wet diapers obviously hes not dehydrated.



answers from Seattle on

Have you tried chocolate milk? Frozen fruit bars or ice pops?

Could you engage your 3-yr-old in this process? Get the boys matching sippy cups and have big brother encourage the young one to "Watch me! Drink like I do!" Or start the little one on an open cup. Messy, yes, but maybe a novelty?

How frustrating for all of you. Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

don't want to start with the sippy cups in every room, trust me, but if you put a little fridge for just the kids and store the sippy cups in there (water only or you will have some chemistry experiments growing. Place it in a spot (at their level) near the toys or play area or even in a spot on the floor in the kitchen. Let them get their on drink "for fun". Eventually you can have other kinds of drinks or snacks in it and they can control it when they get older (sliced apples, carrots, juice...).
I did have a kid once that ONLY drank apple-carrot juice, don't even know if they make that anymore.
Soups are another way to get fluids in.
Popscicles / freezy pops
He is so young. It is hard not to push it as we are the helicopter parents...

Lots of luck



answers from Rochester on

As strange as it was to watch my son do it, I think your son is doing the same thing and is just drinking for thirst and not nutrition now. According to everyone I've asked about it, its a good thing that they're more interested in solid foods. I really don't think its necessary unless he becomes dehydrated to come at him with an IV. Why create a traumatic situation if there's no need? It sounds like he's staying well enough hydrated to have wet diapers and keep in mind that fruit also does a little bit of hydrating as fruit will have water content.

Someone else mentioned an open cup, I think its a good idea. He may want to be like his big brother. Have them both drink from the same cup even if its open or with a straw. It seems like if big brother has it, he'll at least give it a shot.



answers from Detroit on

As long as he's producing 1 wet diaper every 8 hours, he is not dehydrated. You probably should consult his doctor, to see if he or she has any suggestions but you don't want to scare your son, that can have the opposite desired effect. He may be teething and sometimes those sippy cups can be hard to handle when one is teething, try buying one where the part he puts in his mouth his made from soft silicone. Good luck!



answers from Duluth on

try chocolate milk?

is he acting ok? playing normally? good color to his eyes and skin? does he have dry skin? a better signal of whether or not he needs more liquids is his general overall health, not exactly how much he is drinking. what color is his pee? if its dark, hes a bit dehydrated, but mixed with other healthy signals its not a bad thing, some foods can also color urine too, so dont let that be your ONLY signal.


i know when i transitioned my son he had to have chocolate milk for a while. breastmilk is naturally more sweet (so that its attractive to babies!) so chocolate milk is naturally more attractive. its not as harmful as getting dehydrated! :)
one thing i did too was leave a sippy of water in my son's bed with him. he sometimes would wake at night and drink because he was too busy during the day! :) give it a try. yes, it might leak, but he might drink it all too LOL.

other than that, this could be a power struggle. he knows how much you really want to get liquids into him, how stressful it is for you, and hes liking having control over it. try to ignore it for a while. see what happens. it could be a "strike" over ending breastfeeding... only its gone on a while because it stresses you out. ;P

anyway, good luck!

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