Setting up a toddler self-serve drink station is one of the best things I’ve done in my kitchen. It allows and encourages my children to meet their own needs. They can pour themselves a drink of water without any interference from an adult. They can drink as much as they like, as often as they like.
In Montessori terms this contributes towards:
- A basic faith in oneself;
- The sense of independence and autonomy;
- The self-esteem; and
- Social participation (when pouring a drink for others).
How to get started? First you will need to find a suitable water dispenser. We have a ceramic dispenser with a filter inside. Most toddlers will find a dispenser or container with a spigot like this easy to use.
Choose a location for your dispenser. It needs to be quite low for a toddler to use comfortably. Near the dispenser you will need some cups or glasses. We keep our glasses in a tray so the children keep them tidy; it reminds them to put the glasses back in the tray and not just anywhere on the shelf. We keep a pitcher nearby to fill and take to the table for meal times and a pile of cleaning cloths to wipe up any spills.
It is important to demonstrate to your children, especially a toddler, how to use the drink station and clean up spills.
The greatest challenge for most parents is a toddler intentionally spilling water. If you find your child isn’t ready for the responsibility of having access to a drink station, take it away for a week or longer until you feel they are ready. To begin with, my toddler allowed water to run onto the floor. We would clean it up together and I would remind him the water is for drinking. Having the drink station in the kitchen means that it is always used under supervision and any silliness can be caught early. I introduced my toddler to the drink station when he was around twenty-months old but I have seen toddlers as young as eighteen-months use one.
You can see another really cute toddler self-serve drink station here at Harvesting Kale.
Would you allow your toddler to have a self-serve drinking station?