It’s Not All Mary Poppins

What I said

“I can’t get him to drink water. All he wants is milk and juice.”

It’s a pretty common complaint. Milk and juice taste better than bland old water, and, uncontrolled, toddlers will suck back untold quantities of the stuff. Not that either of these is bad for a child, of course, but as with anything we can ingest, the issue is one of moderation.

Milk is good — to a certain point. After that it’s unnecessary calories. Juice is all right — though fresh fruit is better.

But water? It’s essential, and learning to drink water when thirsty, as opposed to milk, juice, or god forbid, soft drinks (pop! for thirst! bizarre — and just plain gross, people) is a lifetime healthy habit children need.

So I explain my tried-and-true strategy. Since children don’t get juice at my home at all, I’ll be using milk, but the strategy holds for all liquids:

Water it down. Slowly, incrementally, over a period of weeks. You’re not replacing milk with water entirely, of course, but you do stretch the milk out. And we’re talking a child who’d drink his weight in milk every day, so there’s no worry about inadequate milk intake. Rather the reverse.

Mom shakes her head. “Oh, that’d never work. He loves his milk!” I remind her that it’s incremental: the first day, you need only replace half an ounce (15ml) of milk with water. As small as it needs to be.

She shakes her head, dubious. “He’ll know. I know he’ll know.”

I try once more, but it’s clear that mom has decided this won’t work for her child. And she’s going to prove that by not trying it even once. My sigh is deep and heart-felt.

Fast-forward three months. Mom walks in to see son downing a bottle of water.

“He drinks water?”

“Mm-hmm. Usually a cup, cup and a half over the day.” (By which I mean a full 8-ounce/250 ml cup.)

“That’s amazing! He NEVER does that at home!”

Gee. Guess I’m just “lucky”, huh?

January 6, 2010 Posted by | health and safety, parents, Peeve me | , , , , | 7 Comments