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Fluid intake: dos and don'ts

A young girl drinking water from a glass

Ensuring that your child maintains an adequate fluid intake is crucial for their overall health, especially when it comes to the proper functioning of the urinary system. At Pee Paediatric Services (PeePS), we specialise in treating children with lower urinary tract dysfunction and we often see how significant a role proper hydration plays in managing conditions like bedwetting, daytime wetting and overactive bladder in children.

The importance of fluid intake 

Water is essential for every bodily function and children's bodies are particularly sensitive to changes in hydration levels. Adequate fluid intake helps regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated and is vital for maintaining a healthy urinary system. For children with lower urinary tract dysfunction, proper hydration can help manage symptoms and improve bladder function, reducing episodes of bedwetting and daytime wetting.

Dos of fluid intake

Encourage regular water drinking 

Encouraging your child to drink water throughout the day helps maintain steady hydration levels. Aim for a consistent intake rather than consuming large amounts in one go. This steady intake is particularly beneficial for children with overactive bladder in children, as it helps keep the bladder functioning optimally without overwhelming it.

Offer water with meals and snacks 

Making water readily available during meals and snacks can help integrate drinking water into your child's routine. This practice not only aids digestion but also ensures they are getting enough fluids throughout the day.

Use a fun water bottle 

Now, this might sound silly, but children are more likely to drink water if it’s easily accessible and presented in a fun way. Invest in a water bottle with their favourite colours or characters. This simple step can make a big difference in their willingness to stay hydrated.

Track fluid intake

Keep a daily log of how much your child is drinking, especially if they are receiving paediatric bladder treatment. This can help identify patterns and ensure they are meeting their daily hydration needs. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider to adjust their intake if necessary.

Suggested intake of water-based drinks for children and young people


Total water-based fluid intake/day*

4-8 years

1000-1400ml (both female and male)

9-13 years

1200-2100ml (female) 1400 – 2300ml (male)

14-18 years

1400-2500ml (female) 2100-3200ml (male)

Teach hydration awareness

Help your child understand the importance of drinking water. Explain how it helps their body function and how it can prevent symptoms associated with lower urinary tract dysfunction. Educating them can empower them to take charge of their own hydration.

Don'ts of fluid intake

Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks

Sugary drinks, such fruit juices and caffeinated beverages like cola and tea can irritate the bladder and should be limited, especially for children with daytime wetting or overactive bladder. These drinks can also contribute to excessive calorie intake and other health issues.

Don't rely on thirst alone 

Children often don't recognise they are thirsty until they are already dehydrated. Encourage regular drinking even when they don't feel thirsty, particularly during playtime or hot weather when fluid loss can increase.

Limit fluids before bedtime 

To help manage bedwetting, try to limit your child's fluid intake in the two hours before bedtime. Ensure they use the toilet before going to bed to empty their bladder. However, ensure they have had enough fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

Avoid forcing fluids

While it's important to encourage drinking, avoid forcing your child to drink large amounts of water at once. This can cause discomfort and might lead to negative associations with drinking water. Gradual, consistent encouragement is more effective.

Don't ignore signs of dehydration 

Be vigilant for signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, dark urine, fatigue and dizziness. Children with lower urinary tract dysfunction may be more susceptible to dehydration, so it’s important to address these symptoms promptly. If you notice any of these signs, increase their fluid intake and consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

Proper fluid intake is a key component in managing lower urinary tract dysfunction in children. By following these dos and don'ts, you can help your child maintain optimal hydration, which supports their overall health and assists in the management of conditions like bedwetting, daytime wetting and overactive bladder.

At PeePS, we are committed to providing specialist care for children with urinary tract issues. If you have concerns about your child's fluid intake or urinary health, we encourage you to take advantage of a free 15-minute discovery call with Cheryl Jennings, our clinical nurse practitioner who specialises in paediatric urology. Cheryl can provide personalised advice and help you navigate the best approach for your child's needs. 

Contact us today to schedule a call and take the first step towards improving your child's urinary health.


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