Very Thirsty Toddler

Updated on June 07, 2010
J.P. asks from Glendale Heights, IL
22 answers

My 2 year old asks for drinks ALL day long, starting immediately when she gets up until she's getting into bed at night. When I mentioned this to the ped., she had her do a glucose tolerance test, but it came back normal. So, I'm wondering if she's actually really thirsty? or is it a habit? for comfort? When I give her a drink, she sucks the whole thing down very quickly. The problem is, she mainly wants juice and it's very difficult to get her to drink plain water. I mostly give her water with a splash of juice for color and flavor, and she gulps it all down, but now I keep hearing about "NO JUICE", and I'm worried. She also likes milk, but I don't want to overdo that either. The other problem is that she is TINY, I can't keep pants up around her little bitty waist. I think all of the drinking decreases her appetite. She used to be a good eater but is now picky and says "I can't" when I tell her to eat. So, should there be a "liquid limit" for the day? How much juice? milk? Is OJ part of the "No Juice" campaign? Both of my girls drink OJ every morning (diluted for the toddler). Any other suggestions for making water more appealing to her?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the great advice!!! I have gotten her to eat a better breakfast and lunch today by not giving her a drink until she was almost finished eating. I think part of her drinking is a habit, and part of it is actually hunger, so I am going to offer food first before drinks. I LOVED the suggestions on flavoring water with fruit slices. I tried orange slices today, and she wasn't a huge fan, but we'll keep working on it. I also plan to start a "drink schedule", so we know exactly what she gets and when (like only milk with certain meals, ect.) Thanks again, you all gave me a lot to think about!

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answers from Dallas on

A juice alternative is to put a wedge or slice of lemon, lime, or orange in water. Or let her pick out a special cup that she only gets to use if it's filled with water. My 3 y/o son won't drink water unless there's ice in it.

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answers from Chicago on

I would definitely limit her liquid intake. Especially when it's meal time. Give her half a glass of milk or diluted juice. And when she askes for more, tell her once she eats half of her food, she can have the other half of her drink. My niece does the same thing. If it were up to her, she would drink all of her meals. And then if she tells me she's thirsty when she's eating and she already drank her half of cup, I will give her water. If she's really thirsty, she'll drink that. But she never does. She's just trying to get more juice and/or milk.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi J. -- I've been going through something similar with my son and I can't figure out what exactly is going on. So I've started buying fruit that has a higher water content than others. My kids eat fresh fruit at the three main meals and I've been giving them watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew instead of our usual bananas, apples & pears. These water-packed fruits really seem to be helping his thirst issues. Good luck.

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answers from Dallas on

Yes, the drinking deceases her appetite, especially if given before a meal. The way to solve the juice problem, is to not buy it anymore. It really is just junk anyways. I say this because if it isn't in the house, she will give up the fight for it and you can maintain a better drinking pattern.

Maybe the water has a metallic taste for her. Use a purifier if you must, or ice. My kids only like water if it is cold from a pitcher in the fridge or has ice in it.

OJ is okay, so long as it isn't the sugary stuff like Sunny Delight. Milk would be a much healthier option. Whole milk is best for her size, then as she grows, then go to 2%.

During meal time for my boys, I can't give them drinks with their food, because they will just drink the whole thing and beg for more without touching the food. So, I bring their cups out towards the middle of the meal once they have established that they are going to eat.

When went through tons of milk as kids. My parents limited what we drank... only 2 gallons a week and that was it because we could drink an entire gallon a day.

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answers from Chicago on

first yes, OJ is a juice and is counted in the total 4 oz a child that age should have maximum in a day.
second - max milk per day for her age is 16 to 20 oz.

third - my older daughter was failure to thrive. She had no appetite, no hunger mechanism. So, I took all the things you do to diet and reversed them - one of those things is to drink water as it "fills" you up so you aren't hungry. So I limited her liquids because of that reason. I made every bite and every sip count.

I have a Picky Eater Plan that should help you out. I have a feeling that she is drinking out of habit, I have had kids do that in my daycare. Since you already tested for diabetes you know it's not that... so ... try the picky eater plan

There is a great book by William G Wilkoff, MD called Coping with a Picky Eater that every parent or provider of kids should read and have a copy of.

This book has what I call the Picky Eater Plan. I have used this plan with kids that literally threw up at the sight of food and within 2 weeks they were eating normal amounts of everything and trying every food.

First you need to get everyone who deals with the child on board. If you are a provider it's ok to make this the rule at your house and not have the parents follow through but you wont' see as good results as what I described up above.

The plan is to limit the quantities of food you give the kid. When I first start with a child I give them literally ONE bite worth of each food I am serving. The book suggests that every time you feed the kids (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) you give all 4 food groups. So, for lunch today I would have given the child one tiny piece of strawberry, one spoonful of applesauce, 3 macaroni noodles with cheese on them, and 2 oz of milk. Only after they ate ALL of what was on their plate would you give them anything else. They can have the same amounts for seconds. If they only want more mac and cheese, they only get 3 noodles then they would have to have more of all the other foods in order to get more than that. If they don't eat, fine. If they don't finish, fine. Don't make a big deal out of it, just make them stay at the table until everyone else is done eating. They don't get more food until they are sat at the next meal and they only get what you serve. When I first do this with a child I don't serve sweets at all. So no animal crackers for snack but rather a carrot for snack. Or one of each of those. I don't make it easy for them to gorge on bad foods in other words. Now if they had a meal where they ate great then I might make the snack be a yummy one cause I know they filled up on good foods.

Even at snacks you have to limit quantities of the good stuff or else they will hold out for snack and just eat those snacky foods. I never give a picky eater the reward of a yummy snack unless they had that great lunch prior to it.

It really is that easy.

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answers from Atlanta on

Hi J.,

Just another idea is that she may be craving the sugar in the juice. Sugar cravings can be a sign of candida (yeast). Is she itching in her private area any? What does her tongue look like? If it's pink, that's good. If it's white or has a coating on it then her little body is eaten up with yeast. If it doesn't show white, that doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't have it, just that it hasn't exhibited itself yet.

Sugar feeds the yeast and when the yeast starts to die, it craves more. Juice is almost pure sugar. Candida is a major concern today because of all the sugars in our diet. The last figures I read were about 85% of the American public have it and don't even know. Candida will break down the immune system slowly and other conditions can arise.

A low glycemic diet (just like what a diabetic should eat) and avoiding processed foods will help. A probiotic/prebiotic will get rid of it if you limit her sugar intake so it can do it's job efficiently that includes white breads, white potatoes and white rice.

God bless,


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answers from Chicago on

I buy lemons limes and tangerines, slice them thinly and put them in a pitcher of water. They give a nice colour, some flavour, and no added sweeteners. With decorative shaped ice cubes(many cute ice trays can be bought around now), it's a refreshing change up from juice. While I don't have a problem with my son like this, the kids I watch are heavy Kool-Aid and pop drinkers, so I make this for them. If they have to have sweet, I add a packet or two of stevia powder into the pitcher before chilling.

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answers from Houston on

Funny, I went through this too with my toddler about a year ago when she was two. She was drinking all day and night. I was so convinced that she was diabetic that I was even pricking her finger myself and checked her blood sugar levels for a week.

As for the juice, I limit as well though I no longer dilute it. However, she should be drinking more water than juice. If she is thirsty enough, she'll drink plain water. I go head to head with my three year old occasionally still, but she knows that she has to drink a cup or two of water between every cup of juice or milk.

It could be interferring with her appetite. You might try restricting liquids an hour or so before meal times--try re-directing her attention during that time if she says she is thirsty. My daughter will chunk up a bit and then shoot up.

No juice is no juice. However, I believe "they" are extreme about it because they know most parents aren't going to follow it strictly. I agree that juices have little nutritional value, but not EVERYTHING we eat has to serve some supreme purpose. Juice can be an important source of Vitamin C and everything in moderation. It just isn't a NECESSARY part of the diet.

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answers from Chicago on

The I can't may have to do with more than fullness from liquids. However the sweetness of the liquids (carbohydrates) she is drinking can suppress the appetite as well as any hidden caffeine in some products. Check contents and nutrition. How are her bowel movements? If too watery or hard may be an indication of her hydration needs, too.
What kind of water is she drinking? Some bottled waters have minerals not helpful for proper hydration for a child. Try finding water with a 7 Ph, this is the normal Ph, use a purifying system that puts O2 back into the water greatly improves the taste and the "feel" of the water on your child's palate.
I hope some of what I have suggested works for your toddler because of various growth spurts, my Pediatrician suggested....two tablespoons of each food group for each year of age is enough to sustain the health of a child, so don't judge on meals, supply healthy offers throughout the day rather than limiting to a sit down meal.

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answers from Chicago on

Fill a pitcher with water and a few cucumber slices. Keep it really cold. It tastes great!



answers from Chicago on

It looks like you have gotten a lot of good advice. My son is very tall and thin and would also prefer to drink rather than eat. I make sure that the juices that I give him are 100% juice. If you are close to a Trader Joe's they have two juices that are really good and good for you too. They have a Green Plant juice that looks VERY unappealing but is really good and my son loves it. They also have a carrot juice with Omega 3 that is very good as well. I will add water to both of these so they last longer and are not so expensive. I will make smoothies with frozen strawberries, blueberries, sometimes bananas if I have them, plain yogurt, oj and ground flax seeds. This is very filling, healthy and takes a couple of minutes to make.

I will limit juice to first thing in the morning and right after naptime. Once this routine was established, it's much easier to stick with it. I also agree with the other mothers to encourage taking in more food or eating half the meal prior to getting more liquids. I hope this helps.



answers from Chicago on

My 2 year old asks for juice quite a bit too. I don't allow him to have anything to drink until he finishes what he has to eat. Sometimes he gets mad but for the most part does what is asked of him. Plus he knows I'm not budging now so he doesn't even try. I felt good about my decision bc my son has always been small (in the 35th percentile) since birth and he hates milk so I have to make sure he eats good meals. Believe or not he eats his veggies too. It's not easy but it's what's needed. Hope that helps, and this is just one of many phases to come lol.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I think it's fairly common for kids to want to drink juice a lot. We have this struggle with my daughter. She'll slam down a glass of juice or milk, but barely touches water. She's also infamous for asking for a drink right before dinner, then crying that she's not hungry and "can't eat." So, we set up a schedule. She can have one cup of juice a day. That's it. No splashes of juice in her water. One cup. She can have it whenever she wants, but she only gets one. And it has to be 100% juice. Usually she chooses to have her juice with her breakfast. The rest of the day she gets water, except at dinner she can have milk. (She's only allowed a little dairy since she has problems with constipation.) She is only allowed to drink after she has eaten some of her dinner. I also take away all liquids about an hour or so before mealtime. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If it's hot out, then she can have all the water she can drink, I don't want her getting dehydrated. We are finally to the point where she'll choose water over sugary drinks most of the time. Not always, but lots of times.
We also have to remind her to drink slowly. I will watch her drink and if she looks like she's going to chug the whole cup, I'll make her put it down for a bit.



answers from Nashville on

I was also going to suggest the orange or berries in the water, that will help flavor it. And try it both colder and warmer, but colder would probably be more like juice. Do you use filtered water? Maybe the taste of your water is too heavy on the minerals for her.

I am not anti-juice. I might be though, if I had to battle over it. I offer mainly water. Juice is a treat. There is nothing wrong with compromising and giving her one diluted cup a day, at least to start out and get her to drink more water. I think oj is a little better, but that might just be because I like it more, I don't really know. :)

I think if she is truly thirsty she will drink the water you offer. So it sounds to me like a "juice addiction". And too much of anything can be bad. Too much milk is just as bad, they can both interfere with appetite and getting other nutrients. For milk, it is recommended 16-24 oz a day for 2 yr olds, and no more than 36 max, just so you know. So that is actually like 3 sippy cups if they are standard 8 oz cups. So you could maybe be giving her more than you are. Just dont give them at mealtimes, only afterwards, since milk can be filling.

If the compromise of one cup of juice only doesn't work, try the idea of just not buying it. "We don't have any" seems to work very well with my son when he wants something he doesn't need. Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

J., I was tiny when I was little, too. I LOVED milk, totally loved it, and would drink a whole glass and then had no appetite to eat. My mother had to withhold the milk until I had eaten my meal. She would give me one inch of it in my little cup to wet my appetite, then it was only food. After eating my dinner, then I could have my milk.

You might want to try this. Between meals, only milk or water (except for the OJ in the morning, after food.) No more other juices. She needs to learn to drink water, whether she wants to or not - the juice flavors are keeping her from being able to enjoy water. If she continues to be so thirsty, have another glucose tolerance test done. Too much thirst is a symptom of diabetes.

All my best,



answers from San Antonio on

We like keeping a jug of water with a couple orange slices in it in the fridge. it tastes fun, is pretty to look at and has very little sugar.

I don't have more advice than that, though. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

I dont know about the NO JUICE thing. I guess i missed somthing. I let my kids drink it. We only have the 100% juice in our house and we half it with water. I dont see the problem with that.
My daughter LOVES milk but at dinner I tell her ok you eat your dinner and here is a glass of water when your water is finished you can then have some milk. She wasn't a big water drinker either we used to put some propel powder in it. It was only a little just to give it flavor but that helped us limit her juice and get her to drink more water. when she got older and I could explane it to her better that her body needs the water and it is very healthy for her she came around. Now she drinks it just fine and our doctor said it was a really good idea.
I think around the time she is going to eat you should maybe tell here just wait you can have something with dinner or let her have it a little before and tell her ok eat dinner then you can have a drink. I dont think there is anything wrong with a few cups of milk a day and really nothing wrong with juice if you are getting the 100% stuff and not the stuff with all the extra sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Ask your dr. if your really so concerned mine said you can use the 100% juice like a serving of fruit as long as you get the right stuff so I dont know what you have heard but we do that and my kids are perfectly healthy and make very good food choices so i dont worry about it.
I would start writing down how much of whatever she is getting to drink. Take it to her doctor and see if there is anything else they might think is wrong with her if your really that worried. My daughter was TINY too and nothing was wrong and now that she is six she is right where she should be. i mean when she was a year old we could still put her in 3-6 month shorts it was crazy, but nothing was wrong she was just little and grew out of it. Really though i wouldnt worry so much about the juice and then milk. She needs the milk right now especially if she is on the small side. I would focus less on the worry about the juice, cause you sound like your giving her a lot of water with it and that is just fine, and focus more on the food she does take in. make sure she is getting what she needs to thrive. Try it and talk to her Dr. see what she says about it. I think if it keeps her from snacking all day and stuff like a lot of kids these days and your dr. doesnt think anything is wrong with her I honestly wouldnt worry so much. Water is water and if your little one drinks that much water with just a few splashes of the right kids of juice its ok.....when shes older and can understand better then change it. good luck



answers from Raleigh on

The pediatrician says 12 oz of juice a day is what you should give. We have a "juice lover" too and give our daughter 1 cup at breakfast and she gets 1 cup at snack in the afternoon. Sometimes a little more than that but we do try to limit it. The juice can lead to really bad teeth problems. I hope that does that happen to you but it contributed to our daughters teeth. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

I love the picky eater ideas! Brilliant!
If your daughter is tiny, she needs to eat enough to keep her weight up...her digestion may not be running like it could. Ayurveda (a form of natural medicine) recommends fresh COOKED apples and/or pears, gently spiced with cinnamon and cardomom first thing in the morning to rev up appitite and digestion after being down from overnight sleep. You peel and chop an apple, a few minutes cooking with a bit of water and bit butter make them tender and delicious. They also say no cold or iced foods/drinks because that can put down digestion and appitite. If she isn't liking the taste of most water....Figi and Eternal are straight from aquafirs and taste really good...both my kids hated water, but will drink up all of my Figi water.
I always try to skip bottled's processed and so high in sugars. I like to make homemade lime-aid with water, some fresh lime or other fresh squeezed juice, slices of fruit for fun and a bit of sucanut (organic dehydrated sugar cane juice). A pitcher of this can be made really special with a drop or two of food/therapuetic grade essential oil - lemon or lime, like Young Living brand (don't use any you can buy at healthfood store).

If her appitite is tiny, will she eat homemade soups? Put in a blender, you can hide all sorts of healthy veggies and they'll never know.

A great way to give children milk is to bring it to a boil with some spices. Its really yummy and a little cinnamon and again cardomom will help digest the sugars and protiens in the milk. Its a great drink b/f bed to help kids sleep deeper and somehow tastes sim to hor cocoa.



answers from Chicago on

if she really is that thirsty, you should take her to the doctor again. it could be type 1 diabetes, but if the glucose test came back ok, there could be something wrong with her vasopressin levels/receptors or she could have cystinosis (yes, it's a stretch, but still worth checking out - i saw it on mystery diagnosis and it was with a little boy who had excessive thirst).



answers from Chicago on

My daughter (3.5) is always claiming she's thirsty too. For the most part, I give her water. If given the chance, she will drink a cup of milk before eating 3 pieces of her dinner so I try to get her to eat 2 pieces between every bite. At daycare, she's not allowed to drink until her breakfast and/or lunch is finished.

My daughter also wakes up in the middle of the night saying she's thirsty too, so I now have a sippy cup 1/2 way full of water on her headboard. If she gets thirsty, she no longer has to wake me up. Most mornings, the cup is empty.

Her ped said she is healthy and there's nothing to worry about. So, if your daughter is truly thirsty, water should help quench her thirst.

Good luck.


answers from Jacksonville on

It may seem harsh. Call it "tough love" if you want... lol
But I would just quit all the juice. ALL of it. Forget diluting it or OJ for breakfast. They don't NEED any of it. And if she is really thirsty like she claims (you sound like you have your own doubts on that point) then she will accept the plain water. Keep a container of it cold in the fridge so it is more appealing, or add ice cubes.

If you really want to let her have a little OJ at breakfast, go ahead. But make it plain to her that that is it. No other juice the rest of the day. And stick to it.
Sure she'll complain. She WANTS the juice! :) But if she's really thirsty she'll ACCEPT cold water. And if you don't offer her anything else.. she gets to take it or leave it.
Yes, it can affect her hunger. Why do you think people who are dieting drink a glass of water before each meal? Because it fills the tummy.

If you are really concerned about the amount of fluid... Use a graduated tupperware bottle (the kind that marks how many ounces along the side) and fill it before you go to bed. In the morning, use only that to pour your daughter's water all day. At the end of the day... how much is left? Or do you have to refill the container? You can go back to your ped and give him some tangible numbers about what she is drinking... he may have some other thoughts about whether it is a concern or not, regardless of the glucose test.

If she is really that tiny.. .then instead of water, offer her milk. But only give her small servings/sips in the hour preceding any meals.

I think at 2 yrs old, my son drank about three 8 oz servings of milk a day. Maybe more. (He LOVED his milk!) But the ONLY other drink he had was plain water. But, it's been a few years.. (okay, 10 years) so I may not be remembering correctly...

You can ALWAYS ask your ped about it again if you are not satisfied with the information you received (or didn't receive).

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