Winter weather tips for young children
Posted on 01.06.2017, Friday

With winter weather on the horizon, now is a perfect time to make sure you know how to keep young children safe in the cold and snow! Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets.
  • If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a child is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy.  Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.  They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water.  104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Winter Health

  • Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter. If your baby finds a daily bath soothing, make sure it lasts no longer than 10 minutes and that the water is lukewarm, not hot.
  • If any areas of your child’s skin look or feel dry, immediately apply a generous amount of baby moisturizing cream or a thick ointment like petroleum jelly.
  • Cold weather does not cause colds or flu.  But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other.  Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of her elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.Children 6 months of age and up should get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu. It is not too late to get the vaccine! Around 80% of all influenza illness generally occurs in January, February, and March.

Sun Protection

  • The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow.  Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen and consider using sunglasses.

Stay safe and warm this winter!