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Importance of Hydration in Childhood

– by Holly Larson, RD

Summer is winding down and school time is gearing up! Hydration is an important topic as we establish new routines and conquer changing environments and temperatures.

Water is an essential nutrient. It is responsible for maintaining our body’s temperature, flushing waste, transporting oxygen and nutrients around our vessels and more.

Understanding Dehydration

Being dehydrated can negatively impact your child’s ability to focus in school, run and play at recess and generally feel their best. It can be a challenge for children with autism or other language issues to express feeling dehydrated and so it is an extra responsibility for parents to monitor.

It is really easy to get behind on your water intake, but especially in the heat of the summer. Children are more vulnerable to dehydration than adults. Kids tend to have a lot of surface area relative to their body size, which means they quickly lose water via their sweat glands.

How do you know if you are dehydrated? Monitor the color of your urine. Light colored urine indicates proper hydration. This is much more accurate than counting glasses or ounces of water as your hydration needs vary day to day with variations in exercise, temperature, foods consumed, sodium intake, medications and more.

Note: medications, certain foods (eg beets!), vitamins and supplements may change the color of your urine.

Preventing Dehydration

The first step to preventing dehydration is to not wait until you are feeling thirsty. Our thirst mechanism is not very sensitive at any age, and declines with each passing decade. By the time your body senses thirst, you may already be dehydrated by several cups of water.

Drink your preferred temperature. If you like hot drinks year round, keep your kettle going and enjoy hot water, hot water with lemon and a variety of teas. If you prefer arctic drinks, keep your ice maker running, a pitcher of water in the fridge, freeze fruit for flavor and chill your water.

If your child drinks best from a certain cup or water bottle, make sure that it is available. Many kids (and adults) drink a greater volume when using a straw.

Eat an abundance of fruits and veggies - they’re excellent for your health and loaded with water. Have fruits and vegetables with each meal and snack.

Be mindful while traveling on trips, to school, to practices and anytime we are on the go. We aren’t focusing on water as much when we are on the move!


At Brain Balance, we recognized the role nutrition plays when it comes to healthy childhood development. As part of our integrated program, we offer an easy-to-follow clean eating, nutrition system with helpful guidelines and strategies to make it a positive experience for your child, as well as the whole family. To learn more about our whole-child approach to learning, behavior, and social challenges, contact us today!

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