Summer Survival Guide for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids Healthy and Hydrated in the Heat


Guest written by Dr Kimberley Baxter, Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

The festive season is a special time that brings families, young children, and communities together. It’s a time to celebrate, share stories, and create memories. A big part of the joy of the season is food! Shared food is a central point of connection for people and a special part of the celebration. This article provides tips on helping your child eat and drink well over the summer season.

Staying hydrated in hot weather:

Keep your child hydrated during the hot summer months, especially outdoors. Children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults, so making sure they drink enough throughout the day is important. Here are some tips to help you keep your child hydrated: 

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and soft drinks.
  • Offer your child fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, and oranges.
  • Always take a water bottle if you're going out.
  • Keep out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Watch your kids for signs of overheating or dehydration.
  • If you have an insulated water bottle, these are a great way to keep water cool.


Take snacks and picnics with you:

Picnics are a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your child. Taking food with you will also save money and allow you to decide in advance what your kids will eat while you are out. Keep your food cool by packing it in an insulated cooler bag with an ice brick. Try to take a mix of food, including healthy choices. Here are some ideas:


For toddlers:

  • Sliced fruits such as bananas, apples, strawberries, and pears.
  • Small pieces of cheese or cheese sticks.
  • Whole-grain crackers with hummus.
  • Yogurt with fresh berries.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Carrot sticks (lightly cooked for young toddlers), cucumber slices.
  • Homemade muffins or little pancakes.
  • Small sandwiches with whole-grain bread and fillings like lean meat, cheese, and peanut butter.

For pre-school aged children:

  • Fresh fruits such as grapes, apples, strawberries, and blueberries.
  • Vegetable sticks such as carrots, cucumbers, and celery.
  • Whole-grain crackers with cheese or peanut butter.
  • Homemade Anzac biscuits.
  • Popcorn (aged 4 years+).
  • Mini muffins made with whole-grain flour and fresh fruits.
  • Small sandwiches with whole-grain bread and fillings like lean meat, cheese, and peanut butter.


Managing fussy eating:
Fussy eating is common among children and can be challenging to manage during special occasions. Here are some tips to help manage fussy eating and enjoy the occasion:

  • Offer your child a variety of healthy foods and let them choose what they want to eat.
  • Be realistic - gatherings often have nibbles that kids will snack on between meals, meaning they come to the table not hungry.
  • Involve your child in food preparation, setting the table or cooking.
  • Offer foods you know your child will eat (if eating away from home, take some options with you).
  • Avoid forcing your child to eat a particular food.
  • Avoid using food as a reward or punishment.
  • Be a role model and eat healthy foods yourself.
  • Try not to be too controlling in eating situations at other people’s homes or during special occasions.

Try not to let anxiety or concern over your child’s eating take away from the togetherness of special occasions. Shared meals and parties are a great opportunity for children to try new foods, have positive experiences with food, and see others eating and enjoying different foods. For more ideas and information, here are some credible sources:

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