How Much Should a Toddler Drink?

As a child moves into the toddler years, he is ready to try new things and explore a new sense of independence. This is the stage in which children transition from bottle or breastfeeding to drinking liquids from a cup. Liquids are necessary for proper hydration and can be an important source of nutrients in your toddler's diet, but too much of the wrong kind of liquids can cause nutritional problems.

Importance of Hydration

Water, which makes up nearly 60 percent of the human body, is one of the most important nutrients for both adults and children, according to Reliant Medical Group. Every organ and tissue in the body needs water to function properly, and dehydration can be life-threatening. Unlike adults, toddlers may not recognize thirst early on and may not be able to adequately express the need for a drink to a parent. The color of a child's urine is the best indicator of hydration status -- urine should be pale yellow if the child is drinking enough. If urine is dark yellow with a strong odor, your child may be dehydrated.

Fluid Needs

Infant drinking milk

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The amount of fluid your toddler needs in a day depends on his weight. A toddler weighing 30 pounds or less needs to consume 32 to 40 ounces per day to stay properly hydrated, says the Reliant Medical Group. If your child weighs 31 to 41 pounds, he should consume 40 to 48 ounces and if he needs 48 to 56 ounces if he weighs between 42 and 63 pounds. The recommended amount of daily fluid can come from a combination of milk and water.


Because it is both a source of fluid and nutrition, milk is an important contributor to a toddler's fluid intake. Milk is a source of high-quality protein, calcium and vitamin D, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers drink 3 4-ounce servings of milk per day. Children age 12 to 24 months should drink whole milk, and children over the age of 2 should drink low-fat (1 percent) or non-fat milk.

Juice and Other Beverages

Infant drinking milk

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There is no need for a toddler to drink juice or any other beverage. In an article published in “American Family Physician,” Dr. Richard Allen and registered dietitian Anya Myers wrote that replacing milk intake with sweetened beverages is associated with obesity, failure to thrive, chronic diarrhea, dental caries and poor calcium intake. Toddlers should not drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages. Juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day and should only 100 percent fruit juice. For optimal nutrition and hydration, serve your toddler milk with meals and water in between meals.