Getting crucial fluids into your sick toddler to prevent dehydration becomes more challenging when he doesn't want to drink. Without the liquids, you may notice signs of dehydration, such as crying without tears, a sunken appearance to the eyes, lethargy, decreased urine and dry skin that feels cool. A little creativity keeps your sick child hydrated without a fight.
Offer Different Liquids
Water comes to mind when you want to hydrate, but offering alternative liquids is an option if your sick toddler turns up his nose at plain water. When choosing liquids, try to limit the sugar content to keep it healthy. If your toddler loves juice, water down his favorite type of 100-percent fruit juice. He still gets the flavor of the juice but with more water to keep his body hydrated. Acidic citrus juices often irritate the throat, so avoid those types if your little one has a sore throat. According to WebMD, milk is a healthy option to hydrate your child and build his strength with the fat, calorie and protein content. Oral rehydration solutions are also available if your toddler will drink the liquid.
Try a Different Delivery System
A sick toddler may not feel like doing anything if his body is worn down. If you can't get him to drink from his usual cups, try a new way to drink. Buying a new sippy cup with his favorite character makes the liquid seem special and possibly more appealing. Some toddlers get excited to drink out of an adult cup without a lid. Add a straw to make the cup more interesting. He may blow a few bubbles, but if he's also drinking liquids the mess is worth it. Plastic syringes without needles are often available at the pharmacy or from your child's doctor. Ask for a few extras the next time you fill a prescription. Let your sick toddler squirt his drinks into his mouth with the syringe.
Hydrate With Food
If your toddler refuses to drink liquids, certain types of food help rehydrate his body. Offer your sick child an ice pop as a hidden way to get liquids in his body. As he eats the ice pop, it melts and hydrates his body. Watch the sugar content of ice pops. Many versions at the store are primarily sugar with little or no actual fruit in them. If your sick child feels hungry, serve him a bowl of broth-based soup. The broth provides fluids to the body, as well as nutrients that might help him regain his strength. The broth also helps replace sodium that is lost during sickness. Fruit and fruit purees, such as applesauce, also contain water if your toddler can keep them down.
Make It a Game
Being sick drains your toddler's energy, but he may still feel like playing. A playful attempt to get your little one to drink is another option that may appeal to him. Set a timer for every 10 to 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, everyone stops what they're doing and takes a drink. Encourage him to play follow the leader. Every time you take a sip, he takes one too. Tally marks to show how much he drinks is another way to encourage him to drink up. Give him a sticker or make a mark on a dry erase board to encourage him to increase his fluid intake.