Last reviewed by Dr Philippa Kaye on May 24th 2023


As the year heats up, making sure we – and of course, our kids – get enough water to drink is very important.

Dehydration can lead to all sort of issues, especially in children, so it's really key that you keep an eye on what they're drinking in the day if you can – and checking the colour of their wee can be a really good way to do that.

"As a very general rule of thumb," says our expert family GP Dr Philippa Kaye, "the darker your child's wee – or urine – is, the more dehydrated they are – and the more they need to drink plenty of fluids.

"But it's also worth knowing that if your child is very severely dehydrated or unwell, they may stop producing urine altogether. So, if your child is drowsy, limp and/or unrousable, don't wait for them to urinate so you can check the colour of their wee; instead, please seek urgent medical help."

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Obviously, the best thing is to avoid the dehydration in the first place. That's why we love this simple-to-read chart: it shows 50 shades of yellow that your child's wee can be – from a pale yellow, meaning they're perfectly hydrated, to a dark brown, meaning they're severely dyhydrated, and the stages in between that could be a 1st warning that they're on the way to dehydration....

child dehydration: shades of urine chart

You could even print this chart out and pin it up in your loo – and teach everyone in your family (who's old enough) to do their own quick colour-matching every time they have a wee!

About our expert, Dr Philippa Kaye

Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.

Please note: this advice is not personalised or meant to replace individual advice given to you by your doctor or medical team.

Pic: Getty. Illustration: Emma Winchester h/t SodaStream


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Tara BreathnachContent Editor and Social Media Producer

Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015