Q&A: 15 Month Old Baby Refuses to Drink Milk & Water

CME WebsitesChild Routines, Mealtime

blockquote_bgMy daughter is 15 months old. Everyday is a struggle for me to make sure she drinks enough milk and water. I first started having this struggle around 9 months old when I noticed she would start to refuse her formula. I still managed to get enough formula to her even though ever feeding was a struggle. But even now when we have switched her to milk it is a daily struggle to make sure she gets the minimum 16 ounces of milk and with that she will maybe only drink about 2 to 3 ounces of water. The water is even a struggle because I have to follow her with a bottle to make sure she takes a sip here and there.
She refuses to hold her milk bottle and occasional picks up her water bottle to take a sip. She is an okay eater so I try and incorporate meals with liquids in them to get her liquids. I am going on six months of this struggle and her pediatrician does not seem to be that concerned. I have tried going one day without giving her liquids myself hoping she would drink liquids herself but she must have only drank a few ounces of water for the day. I am very concerned since it has gone on for so long. She also has a diastema in the upper front teeth which has created a large gap. Her pediatrician also does not show an concern for this. Please give me and suggestions you might have.

I can understand that this is very frustrating for you and I would consult again with your pediatrician or get a second opinion from a developmental pediatrician because not getting enough liquids throughout the day can indeed be dangerous for her health. Young children can become dehydrated very quickly. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, by even adding extra liquids to her foods. Even though some people may say to you “When she is thirsty enough she will drink” this is not always true. I am wondering if you have progressed to using a sipper cup or even a straw cup or open cup with her instead of the bottle? At age 15 months she should be self-feeding (at least with fingers) and able to hold her own cup or bottle. You might also want to consult with a pediatric dentist to determine if excess muscle tissue in her top lip has caused the diastema and if this could effect her sucking and swallowing liquids properly. You can also call your local early intervention provider and see if an occupational therapy evaluation from a therapist who specializes in feeding can be completed. This is the link to EI services in California.