How much milk should a 1 year old drink NHS

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How Much Should a Toddler Drink?

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byMaria Masters
Medically Reviewed by Micah Resnick, M.D., F.A.A.P.
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on February 16, 2021
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how much should my toddler drink?
Your toddler needs plenty of fluids but if he has too much to drink, there wont be enough room in his tummy for food. Heres how to make sure hes getting the right amount.
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In This Article
  • How much should my toddler drink in a day?
  • How much milk should my toddler drink?
  • How much water should my toddler drink?
  • How much juice should my toddler drink?
  • How to encourage a toddler to drink more
  • When to talk to your childs doctor about hydration

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters and sometimes, they can be picky drinkers, too.

Whereas some tots are content to carry around their sippy cups all day (filling up on too much liquid and not enough nutrient-filled foods), others turn up their noses at the first whiff of cows milk making it even harder for them to get enough calcium and protein.

When it comes to determining how much liquid your growing child needs, take a page out of your little ones Goldilocks and the Three Bears book think: not too much, not too little.

How much should my toddler drink in a day?

Although the numbers can vary, use this as a guide for your toddler's total daily hydration:

  • Toddlers ages 12 to 24 months:1 to 4 cups of water and 2 to 3 cups of milk
  • Children ages 2 through 5: 1 to 5 cups of water and 2 to 2 1/2 cups of milk

The only two fluids toddlers need? Milk and plain old H20. You can track what hes drinking by measuring out his fluids in the morning and serving them throughout the day.

Try to limit your childs exposure to sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks, sodas and lemonade even 100 percent juice and flavored milk, which might contain some vitamins, but can be high in sugar.

How much milk should my toddler drink?

In between their first and second birthdays, toddlers should aim to drink 2 to 3 cups or 16 to 24 ounces (oz) of whole milk each day. At this age, children need extra fat in their diet to support their growing bodies and brains.

If you have a family history of obesity or heart disease, however, talk to your pediatrician about whether you should serve reduced-fat, or 2 percent milk instead.

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Between the ages of 2 and 5, tots should drink about 2 to 2.5 cups of milk per day, and most should make the switch to low-fat (1 percent) or nonfat (skim) milk.

Along with healthy fats, milk provides calcium, protein, vitamins A and D, and zinc.

Unless your child has a dairy allergy or milk intolerance, toddlers shouldnt drink alternative (or plant-based) milks, such as almond, cashew, rice, oat or hemp milk, since they usually have less protein and calories than cows milk.If you prefer an animal-free option for your child, soy is considered an acceptable substitute.

Keep in mind, though, that your toddler can be getting too much of a good thing. Toddlers who drink a lot of milk may be filling up on liquids and not eating enough solid foods and that can cause them to miss out on important nutrients such asiron. (Milk doesnt contain iron.) Not getting enough iron can cause learning and behavioral problems, and can also lead to iron-deficiency anemia (a lack of red blood cells).

How much water should my toddler drink?

Starting at age 1, children should drink about 1 to 4 cups or 8 to 32 oz of water each day. After their second birthday, toddlers should drink 1 to 5 cups (40 oz) of water.

Plain old H20 is your best bet when your tot is thirsty, especially if he needs something to drink in between meals. Not only is water easier on your childs tummy and teeth than juice and other beverages, but by helping him develop a taste for it now, youll set up healthy habits for life.

How much juice should my toddler drink?

Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 should limit their juice intake to no more than 1/2 a cup (4 oz) a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Juice is often loaded with sugar which is not only tough on a growing tots tummy, but can also increase the risk of cavities.

Plus, toddlers who sip on too much juice throughout the day might be taking in too many calories and not enough nutrients a habit that can cause poor nutrition.

If you do give your child juice, stick to 100 percent fruit juice, which contains more vitamins (and fewer sweeteners and additives) than juices labeled fruit drinks and fruit beverages. You can also dilute fruit juice by adding water.

Even better: Encourage your toddler to eat whole fruit, which is full of fiber and other healthy nutrients.

How to encourage a toddler to drink more

Do you struggle to get your tot to drink enough throughout the day? The best way to get a toddler to drink water and milk is by taking a swig of it yourself. Children learn by watching their parents and caregivers, so try toting around a water bottle to drink from throughout the day.

You can also entice him to drink water out of a special sippy cup that he picked out himself. However, when it comes to milk, your tot might be better off drinking from a regular cup (bottle drinkers tend to overindulge in liquids because its just so easy to carry it around all day).

And recognize that drinking from a cup is a learning experience, so expect plenty of drips and spills along the way. If youd rather opt for the spill-proof ease of a sippy cup, just be sure to limit its use and offer him regular cups. This way, it wont become habit-forming (like the bottle was!).

If your tot hasnt taken to plain old water, try infusing it with lemons or berries, or giving him fruits and vegetables with a high fluid content like watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries. Yep, foods count, too!

Try to encourage him to get enough to drink, but dont make yourself crazy. The weather, his mood, activity level and appetite can all affect how much he downs every day.

When to talk to your childs doctor about dehydration

Children who are very active especially if theyre playing outdoors in the summer might be at risk of dehydration. Some symptoms include irritability, flushed skin, dry lips, sticky mouth and less urination or dark-colored urine.

If youre concerned that your child might be dehydrated, dont hesitate to call your pediatrician.

From the What to Expect editorial team andHeidi Murkoff,author ofWhat to Expect When You're Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading ourmedical review and editorial policy.

View Sources
  • What to Expect the Second Year, Heidi Murkoff.
  • WhatToExpect.com,Introducing a Sippy Cup, November 2018.
  • American Family Physician, Nutrition in Toddlers, August 2018.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Where We Stand: Fruit Juice, May 2017.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations, June 2017.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Choose Water for Healthy Hydration, September 2020.
  • Mayo Clinic, Is It OK to Give My Child Fruit Juice?, March 2020.
  • KidsHealth From Nemours,Nutrition Guide for Toddlers, June 2018.
  • Mark Corkins, M.D., CNSC, division chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, What about fat and cholesterol?, July 2018.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Recommended drinks for young children ages 0-5, September 2019.
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