How Much Water Should A Toddler Drink?

Theoretically, a toddler should drink the amount of water based on her age. The amount of water a toddler has to drink will be her age multiplied by two liters of water. For example, based on this formula, a three year old toddler will need to drink six liters of water, because 3 (age) X 2 (liters) = 6 liters of water.

However, even though that guideline is cool and all, it is simply theory. There are also other things to take into account like temperature of the environment, and the actual weight and height of your child.

Of course, you don’t really need to calculate this kind of stuff. You can certainly give your toddler adequate amounts of water intake without calculating and measuring anything. I will explain more about that later.

One thing is certain though.  More isn’t better. Taking too much water in a short period of time can be harmful to your toddler.

What Happens When Your Toddler Drinks Too Much?

Water can become a double edged sword when you worship it and greedily consume too much of it. There are many harms to it.

You Lose Too Much Sodium

If you drink too much water, you will lose a lot of sodium in your system. That might sound awesome, but it’s not a good thing in the long term. No matter how bad sodium sounds too you, it is actually very important in our body. The reason people assume it is bad is because too much of it can cause high blood pressure.

Even though that’s the case, sodium plays vital roles in our heart, nervous system (including the brain), and muscles. If you have ever seen the matrix then you will know that our body can produce biochemical electricity. The main component of that electricity is the sodium.

Without this biochemical electricity firing in our system, our heart will have a messed up heart rate and possibly stop. Our muscle will also get weak and spasm because it also requires electrical signals to fire it up. Of course, our brain is the main conglomerate of nerves. Without sodium, you can pretty much assume that it won’t function properly, and swell up. A swelled up brain can be life threatening because there’s not much space in our skull.

If you are wondering why the brain swells up, it is because sodium has other functions. It helps your body control where to evenly distribute the water in your system. This is important because every cell in our body is actually a sack of water. When sodium goes missing, cells will take in more water than it can handle and possibly break apart (think water balloons). Of course, our kidneys will do its best to prevent that from happening, but there’s a point where it can’t keep up if sodium is at dangerously low levels.

What Happens When Your Toddlers Drinks Too Little Water?

You should now realize that drinking too much water is not healthy and possibly deadly if your toddler did this in short periods of time. However, on the opposite extreme, too little water can also kill you.

How Much Of Us Is Actually Water?

No matter what organ you investigate it is mostly water. Your brain, liver, heart, kidneys is at least 70 to 80 percent water. The only exception is bone, which is only 30 percent water. That is cool and all, but why did evolution choose water to make up most of our physical structure? That is because water has a lot of advantages.

Water Regulates Temperature

Why can’t our bodies be made with ammonia or powerful liquor? That’s because those substances can never do the same thing that water can do. In the chemistry world, water has something called a high specific heat. What this means is that it is very difficult to change the temperature of water.

If you compare water with a steel pot, a steel pot will have a lower specific heat. Even if you heat up your metal for a few seconds, it will probably burn your hands if you touch it. However, when you burn your water, it will probably just feel barely lukewarm. In other words, anything with high specific heat will heat up slow and cool down slower. On the other hand, anything with low specific heat will heat up faster and cool down faster.

You might be wondering why specific heat is important. Think of it this way. If you were made of metal instead of water, you would burn much much sooner whenever the sun shines compared to being made of water. Our body relies on proteins and enzymes to carry out most of its functions.

If you heat up or cool down past optimal temperature, proteins and enzymes denatures and alters their shapes so they lose their function. If all your proteins in your body is like that, then you can consider yourself dead.

This also happens in the opposite extreme. If your body is made of metal, you can wear all the expensive jackets you want, your body won’t retain any heat and you will freeze to death much sooner than when you were made of water.

What Other Stuff Does Water Do In Our Body?

As I mentioned earlier, water maintains temperature. It is also a great shock absorber. This is why the fluid surrounding our brain (cerebral spinal fluid) is mostly water. This prevents your brain from being smashed to pieces whenever you nod or shake your head. Water also cushions and lubricates our joints. Water also removes biochemical wastes (urine).

How Long Can A Person Live Without Water?

Theoretically, a person can live around six to seven days without water. However, this is assuming that they are living in a cool to cold environment. During cold seasons, it is not likely for heat to rapidly dry up a person’s water levels through sweating.

However, in reality, it is common for a person to die within two to three days without water. If it is hot outside, then they would die even faster.

How Can You Tell Your Toddler Is Dehydrated?

You can tell that your toddler is dehydrated if you see the following signs:

  • cracked lips, and dry skin
  • sunked in fontanel (the soft un-fused part of the skull)
  • your toddler is easily irritated
  • she might even show signs of low energy
  • dark yellowish urine
  • crying without tears, or very little tears
  • your child will go through ten to twelve hours without peeing
  • your child might even feel that her pee is a bit too hot

She might be irritable because the brain (made of mostly water) is being affected. Low energy is probably because blood (mostly water) circulation is too low in volume. Of course, you shouldn’t just wait for these signs to happen. Replenish your child by giving water and feeding foods that has plenty of water (more on that later).

Should Your Toddler Drink More Water With Higher Sodium Intake?

Let’s say you ordered takeout food and your toddler has eaten some of it. Depending on what you ordered, your child might having taken too much sodium in one sitting. In this kind of situation, your child might have to drink a little bit more than what she normally needs.

The reason is because too much sodium can dry up your toddler.  Our kidneys tries to get rid of extra sodium when there’s too much in our system. That mechanism works by having our body pee more.

Of course, you should still not force to your child to drink too much water. After eating salty meal, your child will naturally feel more thirsty. Let her drink a little bit warm water at a time until she feels satisfied. She would stop on her own when she has drank enough. As I mentioned earlier, too much water can hurt her. Besides, you can’t get rid of the extra sodium without waiting for at least  two to three days.

Should Your Toddler Drink Distilled or Purified Water?

Sometimes, drinking distilled water or purified water from bottles might not necessarily be good for your toddler. First let me explain the difference between distilled and purified water before I explain why.

Distilled water is made with the following steps:

  1. Boil the water
  2. Channel the steam to a different container
  3. Throw away the stuff in the original container
  4. Let that steam turn back into water (condensation) in the new container
  5. Now you have distilled water.

The purpose of distilling water is to remove impurities that have high boiling points (usually 1000O F or more) like metals and trace minerals. Water boils and turns into steam at lower temperature (212O F) before metals can melt. However, this doesn’t remove all impurities in water because some volatile gas can boil at lower temperatures compared to water. This is where purifying water comes into the picture.

Distilled water can be further purified by doing the following:

At this point, you have to purify water if you want close to 100% water. Purification works by using high pressure to pump distilled water through a membrane (special filter) which clings to anything that is not water. This process is also known as reverse osmosis.

Now this makes it sound like giving your toddler purified water is the way to go considering how clean and pure it is. This is the part where you are wrong. Many times, the tap water that flows through your faucet has a lot of helpful minerals like calcium, manganese and fluoride that helps your child develop. As you know, fluoride protects your baby’s teeth and calcium helps develops bones.

You Should Just Let Your Toddler Drink Boiled Tap Water

As you can see, tap water, especially if it is hard water (has calcium and manganese) is not harmful to human health as long your boil it and kill all the germs first. Let your water boil for at least one to three minutes to kill and denature any microorganisms in there.

Another thing I have to point out is that drinking warm water is always better than drinking cold water even if it is summer time. Of course, this is based on a Chinese culture’s perspective, but there’s anecdotal evidence that warmer water is absorbed by your body more better, and you get more benefits from it.

The only time you should avoid drinking your tap water is if you are aware that your area has arsenic and lead pollution. Lead causes permanent damage to the brain and nerve development. Arsenic can cause cancer. If that is the case, then you are better off letting your baby drink bottled purified water.

Can Your Child Drink Juice Instead?

Fruits might be healthy for you, but fruit juice might not contain as many benefits, even if you blended it yourself. On occasions, there’s no harm in drinking juice. However, on a daily basis, it can be pretty harmful. It is almost as bad as soda because it makes your toddler’s blood sugar level randomly spike up. Grind up fruit has all the sugar freed from the pulp for easy absorption.

It doesn’t matter whether that fruit sugar is different from white sugar. Sugar is sugar, and it has to be taken in moderation. This is why high fructose corn syrup is not good for you. When your body can not control its blood sugar properly, you get something called diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that has handicapped and killed a lot of people, and unstable blood sugar is a major contributor to it. It might not necessarily be caused by taking too much sugar, because people who are highly active all day most likely will suffer minimally from its effects. The reason is because our muscles consumes a lot of sugars to stay active.

However, generally most people I know are couch potatoes, or highly not active. This is especially true when it comes to toddlers. Toddlers are still developing, so their physical stamina won’t be very high. If they drink too much sugar and build up too much fat, then it will give them a lot of problems in the long term.

Instead of letting your toddler drink juice. I highly recommend you let her eat the actual fruit instead. For example, actual apples are always better than blended apple juice. Having your toddler eat an orange is better than giving her orange juice. Eating it this way avoids absorbing some of the sugar because the fruit pulp will lock it inside.

Can Your Toddler Drink Tea Instead?

Even though tea is a big part of Chinese culture. We don’t recommend tea for children, because it is “cold” in nature which gets in the way of development and growth. However, from a western medical standpoint, tea has caffeine which is not good for children. Caffeine is considered a stimulant that affects the heart, blood pressure, and anxiety levels.

Since children are usually very easily stimulated with drugs, and yes, caffeine is considered a drug, the effects won’t be very good. It is recommended for you to wait for your child to be at least thirteen years of age before she should start drinking tea.

Nevertheless, tea might have caffeine, but it is still not as bad as coffee. If you can help it, try to never let your child drink coffee. Some people claim that tea has more caffeine than coffee. In a sense, that is true, but that is only comparing the tea leaves with coffee beans.

To make a rich tasting tea and a rich tasting coffee, different amounts of materials are needed. You don’t need a lot of tea leaves to make a rich tasting tea. However, you do need a lot of coffee beans to make a rich tasting coffee. This is why generally a cup of coffee have twice as much caffeine as a cup of tea. Not to mention, some of the caffeine in the tea stays in the tea leaves without coming out.

Your Toddler Should Get Most Of Her Water From Food

Plenty of fruits and vegetables (if not all) contains plenty of water. Even something as dry looking as cauliflower or bell peppers are actually 80 to 90% water. Getting your toddler’s water intake from food is definitely the way to go. Not only does she get a balance of nutrients from his food, she also doesn’t get the risks of water intoxication (like swelling ,and sodium deficiency for example)

As mentioned earlier, drinking too much water in a short amount of time is very harmful. If your want your child to drink something tasty once in a while, then coconut water is a good option. However, don’t let her drink too much either, because it also has its own side effects.

Coconut water has a lot of potassium in it, which is normally good to counteract the effects of sodium. However, too much potassium can lower the blood pressure too much or make the heart stop. Besides, coconut water is pretty expensive so buying too much of it is not an economically efficient option.

One more tip I have to give you is to buy an actual coconut instead of buying ready made coconut water. It is healthier and has no preservatives. If you have trouble opening a coconut, there’s an awesome youtube video that shows you how to open up a coconut and get the water in less than five minutes. Check it out here:


Personally, I don’t believe that it is necessary to be overly stressed out by your toddler’s water intake. Just make sure to feed her plenty of fruits and vegetables, and pay attention for signs of dehydration. If you manage that then you are pretty much set. I hope that was all helpful. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.