Your baby may sometimes go through phases of whether she wants to drink water. If your baby is over 9 months old, has mastered how to take water from a free flow lidded cup, but just doesn’t seem to actually want to take much, then don’t worry. He is obviously not thirsty! Know that your baby’s body is remarkable and will adjust to the amount of fluid intake. On days when there is less fluid in, baby just won’t urinate as much so diapers won’t be as wet, but this doesn’t mean baby is dehydrated. As long as there are some wet diapers in the midst of the drier ones, then that’s fine. Babies can often also compensate and make up their fluid needs in a day by taking in more breast milk during breastfeeding or more formula from a bottle. The most important thing is to keep regularly offering the water cup at different times of the day. If baby seems to be in a playful mood, biting or playing with the water spout, then just gently take the cup away from the baby and offer it again later. Trust that when baby is thirsty, he will drink!
My little one was doing really well at 8 months learning to drink and swallow water. Then at 9 ½ months she discovered how to suck water and but let it dribble out of her mouth, getting her shirt very wet! When she started to drink from the free flow sippy cup again, she seemed to need to relearn the process. She would tilt the cup too much and take gulps that were too big, ending up choking quite a few times. Since 11 months though, she is back to drinking better and can now even take sips from an open cup.
During all these ups and downs in her water intake, I didn’t worry as I noted that her intake of breast milk was actually better during this time, and though it was hot summer weather, she still had some good wet diapers (some were definitely not as wet), her bowel movements were still smooth and the stools were not too hard. I also counteracted her drop in water intake by offering more expressed breast milk in an open cup with meals so she could practice drinking more of that, as I had started to make her meals drier and thicker in texture.
If, however, you know baby is definitely not taking in enough fluids overall, then there are some steps you can take. Even if baby is no longer breastfeeding or drinking much formula from a bottle, you can still add in more expressed breast milk, formula or water to baby’s foods to help increase baby’s overall fluid intake, or offer other fluids like expressed breast milk in a free flow lidded or open cup instead. Expressed breast milk or formula provides more nutrients than water anyway. See also my post on ‘Water Please…Upping Baby’s Water Intake’ for more tips that may help!