By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center

One of the most fun wintertime activities for children is playing outside. Crunching in newly fallen snow and building snowmen can be great ways to get fresh air and exercise during the long cold-weather months. Before your little ones head outside, make sure you have the proper gear to keep them warm and avoid frostbite.  Pay special attention to young children because they might not recognize when they’re getting too cold.

Below are some important tips for helping children stay warm this winter:

  • Layers, layers, layers; they’re easy to put on and also easy to take off. Start with a breathable, cotton undershirt, add a sweatshirt and then a warm winter coat. Hats with a soft fleece lining add a bit of extra warmth and water-proof mittens and boots keep hands and feet dry from the cold, wet snow.
  • Take indoor breaks. Allowing your child to stay outside for long periods of time when the temperatures are very cold can be dangerous. Children often have so much fun that they don’t realize how cold they’re bodies have become. Offering snack breaks (bonus for a cup of hot chocolate!) will allow your child to refuel and warm cold hands and feet. It can also be a great time to throw wet clothing in the dryer before he runs back outside to play. Make sure to check your child’s socks as well to ensure they’re thick enough and have not gotten soaked from the snow.
  • Pay attention to your child’s neck and hands while he plays. If these areas are cold, add another layer of clothing.
  • Do you have a baby who likes to play outside? Spending time in the snow can be a great sensory activity for your little one. However, keep in mind that babies do not generate as much energy and have as much fat as older children. For that reason, they can get colder quicker and need to wear more layers than older brothers and sisters.

Most importantly, pay attention to how you as the adult feel. If you are cold, chances are your child is as well.

A common concern for parents is the ability to get their child to put on proper winter clothes. Does your child make a fuss when told to put on a hat or coat? If so, lead by example. Model how you keep yourself warm and actually show your child how you put your winter gear on.

Lastly, when traveling during the cold-weather months, take steps to keep you child warm, but safe in a carseat. Do not put a puffy jacket or snowsuit on children in a carseat. Instead put on a warm, fitted jacket and cover him in a fleece blanket (over the carseat buckle) if it’s really chilly.

Do you have additional tips for keeping children warm while playing outside?