Why Do Children Ask for Water Once They're in Bed?

Why Do Children Ask for Water Once They're in Bed?

Last update: 11 December, 2017

Surely you’ve spent a thousand nights like this with your child: just when he is ready to sleep, he remembers to make an important request. One of the most common things children ask for once they go to bed is water.

Many parents end up losing patience once this circumstance arises. Others manage to unveil the mystery that lies behind this annoying, insistent and curious situation. So, why does it happen to us every night during our child’s childhood?

When children ask for water before sleeping

Every time children ask for water right before going to bed, you think they just forgot to drink enough during the day. Then, you realize a striking detail: the child only takes a sip. 

This is where the imagination of concerned or frustrated parents begins to fly in search of possible explanations for this curious phenomenon.

Is it manipulation? Do they want to show their power? 

All these hypotheses point to a wake-up call.

However, the reality is that children are not able to perform deception like this. These acts are too intentional and complex. Therefore, they are not seeking to exhaust your patience. It’s time to discard these erroneous alternatives that go through your mind.

Many parents will associate this request with a desire to enjoy our company for a little while longer. But, if we consider the amount of time it takes to sip that tiny amount of water, that theory loses all weight. In that interval, company is not what the young person wants.

children ask for water at bedtime

So, why do children ask for water in bed?

Children ask for water just when they are ready to sleep and just when we want to relax after a long and hard day. Do not be overwhelmed or lose your patience. The real reason behind this typical night situation is more complex than you might imagine.

Actually, with that simple but perhaps inopportune request, your child is asking you something else. Basically, they need to know they can count on you no matter what, unconditionally. They need you. They want to feel that they are not alone if they need you at night.

Your child needs to know that if he calls Dad or Mom, he will be protected. Reassure him and give him extreme confidence. Younger children depend a lot on their parents, even more so at night in the darkness that frightens them.

Your child wants to prove that his beloved parents will take care of him, that he can blindly trust them in the face of any inconvenience. What is at stake here, then, is not your patience but rather your ability to answer his call, to comfort and to reassure.

Having children does not make you a father, just like having a piano does not make you a pianist.

-Michael Levine-

More than thirst

baby sleeping

To face this situation, we must stay calm, patient and loving. That is ultimately what every child requires. Therein lies our success as parents, and the key to our children’s happiness. 

It is not about thirst, discomfort, manipulation or ill-will. The glass of water is nothing more than a pretext. Sometimes it may even be a true need, but the vast majority of the time there is another need of an emotional nature.

A final hug or a sweet, extra kiss. To be caressed and to feel the warmth of our parents. Our children just want to know that we are available to them. They want to feel that we are reliable and loyal at all costs. The comforting and positive aspect of this situation is that it will not last a lifetime.

That’s why it’s so important to enjoy all of these situations, even the ones that generally drive us crazy. After all, sooner rather than later, you will end up missing this golden stage.

As you see, it is just about understanding the child so as not to waste energy getting angry, but instead investing our time in offering all our love.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Malik VS, Hu FB. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Health: An Update of the Evidence. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 8;11(8):1840.
  • Suh H, Kavouras SA. Water intake and hydration state in children. Eur J Nutr. 2019 Mar;58(2):475-496.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.