Can A Toddler Drink Too Much Water?

Can A toddler drink too much water? - Header Image

Key Points

  • No additional water should be given to infants under 6 months, and can be introduced in small quantities at 6-12 months
  • Recommended water intake for toddlers is only 1 liter (or 3 cups) of water per day
  • Water can easily fill the stomach and replace needed food intake, particularly in younger children
  • Younger children can be more susceptible to excessive water consumption which could lead to 'Water Intoxication'

Water is one of the most, if not the most, crucial elements for maintaining a healthy toddler or person of any age for that matter.

Even beyond the obvious health needs, maintaining a healthy level of hydration as has been linked to increased cognitive abilities in children aged 7-9 .

So its not unreasonable to monitor how much water a your little one consumes and even offer more water from time to time to ensure that water is part of their daily diet.

This may lead you to ask questions like, "Does my Toddler need to drink more water" and "Can a toddler have too much water?"

Can a toddler drink too much water? If a Toddler exceeds the recommended intake of 1 cup of water per year of age then its possible for water to fill the stomach and take the place essential foods. In extreme cases excessive water consumption could lead to a medical condition called water intoxication.

Water consumption by age?

While drinking water every day is important, it should primarily be consumed to quench thirst and its likely your child will drink close to the recommendations without any additional incentive.

The infamous 8 glasses of water per day myth is still something that resonates with adults today even though it has no scientific backing.

The following table illustrates the typical (and recommended) water consumption of kids of all ages (toddlers included).

Water consumption by child age
Age Water
< 6 months Exclusively from breast milk or formula *
6 - 12 months < 240ml (or 1 cup) - But primarily from breast milk or formula
1-3 years 1 liter (or 3 cups)
4-8 years 1.2 liters (or 4 cups)
9+ years 1.5 liters (or 5 cups)

Don't forget that food (especially formula) already contains water and will contribute toward daily intake making it harder to determine what additional water (if any) is required.

Ensure when making formula that you measure appropriately as too little formula could lead to additional feeding and increases water intake unnecessarily.

How much water is too much for a toddler?

For a typical toddler, having more than 1 liter of water (or 3 cups) per day would exceed daily intake which can easily be reached when including water provided by foods. This must be balanced with other factors that might require extra water intake like sweat.

  • Hot Weather - Increases the body temperature and the need for perspiration which will vary from child to child
  • Physical Activity - Also will increase body temperature leading to perspiration
  • Foods - Salty foods could increase the need for thirst
Toddler drinking water from hose

Drinking water is totally safe and likely you will never have to moderate its intake unlike milk which can lead to milk anemia far more easily than any complications due to water.

But nonetheless there are serious consequences if water is drunk excessively, such as 'Water Intoxication'

What is Water Intoxication

Over-hydration of 'Water Intoxication' is when water is drunk in excessive enough quantities that lead to an imbalance in electrolyte levels in the body causing swelling and even brain damage.

If blood sodium level goes below 135 mEq/L this leads to a condition called Hyponatremia (aka water poisoning, hyperhydration or excessive water intake) indicating the body has too much water relation to sodium.

While this condition is quite rare, its more common in infants and younger children.

Does water intoxication happen right away

Symptoms of Water Intoxication can occur quite sudden after excessive water consumption, first symptoms might include:

  • irritability
  • drowsiness
  • head pain
  • low body temperature
  • cramping, spasms, or weakness in muscles
  • nausea or vomiting
  • drowsiness and fatigue