-Layer up. Make sure that your kids are always dressed warmly, and that their heads, necks, and hands are always covered. Remember, in winter, it’s always better to dress up than to dress down. Gloves and hats are an absolute must in snow—do not leave skin exposed to the snow. Remember that you can always peel off layers when necessary.
-Beware clothing hazards. While layering up is key, it’s important to keep an eye on potential choking and strangle hazards such as scarves, hood strings, etc that can be dangerous for young children.
-Take regular breaks. If your children enjoy playing outside, encourage them to come inside for regular breaks. Give them a warm drink and a snack to refuel. This is especially important for younger children, but you should regularly check in on older children, too.
-Stay hydrated. This goes off the previous tip, but its importance cannot be overstated. It is key that you encourage children to stay hydrated during winter. Dehydration is a real concern—not just in summer when the sun beats down, but in winter as well. The body loses more fluids more quickly in colder weather.
-Don’t let children play outside alone. The buddy system is always a good rule of thumb, especially in adverse weather. Get together with one or two of your child’s friends, and encourage them to look out for one another. Children younger than age 8 should only be permitted to play outside with adult permission.
-Pick safe play areas. It’s a good idea to pick ideal play spots out for your children ahead of time. In winter, opt for somewhere close that is nearby warm shelter (ex: near home or a friend’s home). Do not allow children to play on roadsides or on snow banks, where snowplow drivers and other motorists may not be able to see them.
-Avoid severe weather. Do not allow children outside in severe conditions such as a snowstorm, nor if the outside temperature or windchill is reported as (-16oF) or lower. Exposed skin will begin to freeze at these temperatures.
-Apply sunscreen. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, even if it’s cold or cloudy. The sun can still bite and burn in winter—it’s important to stay protected.
-Look out for danger signs. Know the symptoms of frostbite and keep an eye out for them. Signs of frostbite include pale, grey, or blistered skin (typically on the fingers, ears, nose, or toes). Signs of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness, fatigue, increased heart rate, confusion, difficulty or rapid breathing, difficult speaking, lack of coordination, and nausea. If you believe that your child has contracted frostbite, bring your child inside immediately and apply warm water to the affected area.
Winter is notorious sick weather, and many children (and parents, too!) succumb to the cold or flu during this time of year. Between harsher weather, stuffy indoor air, and shared spaces, it’s rather easy to catch something during the winter season. But no child wants to be hauled up indoors all winter long because they’re sick, and no parent wants their child to miss too much school because of said sickness, either! While things happen, and everyone gets sick once in a while, employing these illness prevention tips can help you and your kids enjoy a happier, healthier winter season.
-Load up on the ‘fight’amins. While it’s vital that your child get proper nutrition throughout the year, it is especially important during cold and flu season. Make sure that your child is getting enough vitamins, Vitamin D especially, as Vitamin D levels tend to dip in the winter.
-Wash hands regularly. Encourage your child to wash hands regularly throughout the day, and especially before and after touching food. Investing in a small bottle of hand sanitizer for emergencies is not a bad idea either. Buy one that can easily strap onto your child’s backpack.
-Stop the spread of germs. Close-quarter environments like your child’s school are petri dishes for bacteria. Teach your child the best practices for avoiding germs, such as not touching their face, not putting their hand to their mouth or nose, washing hands after interacting with bacteria-prone objects and places such as doorknobs and bathrooms, etc.
-Get a flu shot. It is very important that you take your children to get a flu shot. The flu, otherwise known as influenza, is much more dangerous for children than adults—especially so for children under the age of 5. In fact, each year 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of complications from influenza, and there are between 40 and 180 pediatric deaths caused by it each year. The single best way to protect your children against seasonal flu is to get them vaccinated each year. The seasonal flu vaccine provides protection against the most common influenza viruses that research predicts will be most prevalent in that given year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Contact your CapPed doctor if you have any questions about the flu vaccine.