My middle baby is now getting close to three years old and after his baby sister was born two months ago he has had to grow up a lot. At this point, I just don’t have enough hands to tend to everything three kids may need so we’ve had to set up some new systems and work on self-sufficiency so that we can make it through the day and everyone stays happy. I’ve been surprised at the things he is capable of that I didn’t realize before.
One little change that has made a big impact for us was to set up a Montessori-inspired toddler drink station. For some reason, everyone always needs a drink the second I sit down to nurse the baby. Always!
Elements of a Drink Station
Our drink station is simple and has three key elements:
- Drinking glass
- Cleaning cloth
We’re using this small, enameled pitcher from IKEA and it works really well for us. It’s technically sold as a vase, but it is approved for use with food according to their website. They have two sizes and we’re using the smaller one, which I like because it is perfectly sized for little hands and lightweight enough for a toddler to pickup even when it’s filled with water.
If you’re setting up a drink station with a younger toddler or you’re not quite ready for an open pitcher, a drink dispenser with a spout is a great option.
My kids use a stainless steel thermos when we’re on the go, but at home, they always seem to be misplaced when someone is thirsty. The drink station solves that problem because the cups stay with the pitcher except for during meals.
We ditched plastic cups years ago and made the switch to glass, even for kids. These IKEA glasses are a great size for toddler hands and they are made of tempered glass, which makes them extra durable. We’ve had them for almost five years and haven’t ever had one break!
The final, and possible most important, element to a Montessori-inspired toddler drink station is a cleaning cloth such as a cloth napkin, washcloth or hand towel. Spills are bound to happen when you are dealing with toddlers and open containers. I’ve found the key to success is to empower them to handle the task from start to finish and that includes wiping up spills as needed.
The Benefits of Independence
This simple setup has given my toddler a sense of independence and accomplishment, and I love to see his smiling, proud face when he has poured himself a glass of cool water.
While we don’t strictly follow Montessori principles, I am inspired by the philosophy, especially for the younger years. The concept of “help me to do it by myself” is such a win-win for both the children and the parents and this drink station is just one example of that!