Thursday morning, 6:00am. My two boys woke up to the surprise of powdery white stuff on the ground. My kids love snow days and are off the wall excited about it. They started putting on their snow pants and by 6:10am they ran outside in the dark and danced in pure delight, pulling out their shovels. The older one started to build a snow fort while the other was completely excited by shovelling snow into the sandbox. Beaming from ear to ear, with red cheeks and pride and joy we arrived at kindergarten some time later. However, few things can make a snow adventure go bad as quickly as a cold kid. If feet or fingers are cold the show’s over; no more fun to be had after that. The key to happy kids outside is keeping them warm. This means absolutely no red noses and no snow sneaking in.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep your little ones happy and warmin the winter:
Dressing Kids for Snow
Getting kids dressed to go outside in the cold is exhausting and can be a major headache for some parents. The best way is to dress your kids with lots of layers – think onions. The idea is to stay warm and dry while letting the skin breathe. If it is freezing cold you can add a jacket on top of it. It also gives you the option of removing a layer in case the child is feeling too hot or sweaty. Plus, layering will create pockets of warmth between each layer which will provide far more insulation than if you bogged down the child with a furry, quilted and huge jacket.
I never forget my boys’ reaction when they first saw the snow. Obviously, they touched the snow and their hands were instantly cold. So make sure your kids have proper gloves on when they’re outside (that is, unless you like crying kids). Getting gloves on can be tricky, so get in the habit of glove wearing as young as you can. I know it’s a pain, and sometimes I was tempted to let them go bare-handed (<- that is not recommended, unless, you know, you like crying kids). Thus, my solution is gloves ormittens with zippers for ease of putting on. They can be found almost anywhere.
The outer layer is what keeps the wind and moisture off of kids. Think of this layer as your child’s last defence against mother nature, so make it a good one. To be categorized as waterproof, a material must provide a high level of sustained water resistance. The waterproof number will be rated in the thousands of millimetres (mm). This means that if you take a 1 inch by 1 inch square tube and place it over the fabric, you can fill the tube with water to this height before the weight of the water will push some through the fabric. So a 15,000 mm rating for waterproofing means water would not seep through if you filled a tube with 15,000 millimetres of water on top of the fabric. To be categorized as waterproof, a material must provide 800-millimeter rating for waterproofing. Basically, the higher the number the more waterproof your fabric is. Be aware that anything under 4,800 mm is not really that waterproof if you are dealing with kids and snow. Look for items with a 8,000-millimeter or greater rating for waterproofing. So you don’t have to learn the hard way that a good piece of outerwear is worth spending money on—and don’t worry, it will not cost you a fortune.
Winter footwear is another hard piece of the puzzle to solve: insulated boots for keeping those toes warm that are waterproof (registered Gore-Tex garments are always a safe bet) are cold-weather essentials. And, keep an eye on rugged soles that provide excellent traction. Not all winter boots for kids grip the ground surface to prevent slips and falls. So beware, after all, these boots are for walking and not for slipping!
Whatever you’re choosing to do with the kids, wrapping up warm is especially important for babies and toddlers, so make sure your little one’s snugly dressed whenever he goes outside. Babies aren’t as good at regulating their body temperature as older kids and adults are. The best bet is to monitor them closely: Feeling the back of the neck is a reliable way to check if they are warm/cool. Signs that your baby might be cold are fussiness or skin that appears whitish. If you notice these signs, it’s time to get him indoors!
Dressing your baby right in winters is extremely important. As they are too young to regulate their body temperature we have to be extra cautious. Older babies typically need one layer more than their parents, especially if they’re lying inactive in a stroller or sled. Always check if they are warm enough. Remember, get in the habit of glove wearing as young as you can, even if your baby is wrapped up in sheepskins!
During the colder months, a lifesaver for parents and newborns is a baby sling or front baby carrier insulated inside a cover or jacket. It keeps your baby warm and protected, and you will be able to see him. A back carrier is not suitable in cold temperatures! Back carriers are ideal in summer only.
… and what about Frostbite?
There’s nothing more enjoyable than romping around in the snow for a while and then enjoying winter by indulging in some fireside lounging where you can sip hot tea or cocoa. Please be aware: Skin should be checked for the tell-tale signs of frostbite. Red and swollen patches of skin are the early signs; patches of white, numb skin are a signal the frostbite is more progressed. Children with frostbite should be brought into a warm environment immediately. It’s important to allow skin to warm slowly. Soak affected areas in cold (!)-not hot-water until the skin turns pink. If the numbness continues Do NOT rub or massage the frozen areas. It’s better to press on affected areas and put them on the belly.
A Final Note: Visible Kids Are Safer Kids
When the days are short and the landscape is all blanketed in white, then you know that you have to dress your kids warmly—and visible. Dress kids in bright and colourful outerwear to spot them more easily in a crowd and to assure that they can be seen clearly. Stay away from the light or white clothing when sending the kids out to play in the snow. They have to be seen in case of an emergency, from a distance and when visibility isn’t great. Reflective material and fluorescent fabric increase a child’s visibility, especially at night. A pair of blinking shoes (sneakers with flashing LEDs) will do a good job either. And the new Tirol Beanies will have your child beaming with joy from head to toe :-)