Keeping Infants, Toddlers, and Children Safe as They Play in the Winter Cold

As temperatures drop, it’s still important for children to get outside and play.

Winter is here and in many places across the United States – it’s cold outside with wind, snow, and ice. As temperatures drop, it’s still important for children to get outside and play. It’s a bit more complex as parents and caregivers need to ensure the children are properly protected from the cold.

To adequately prepare, it’s vital to know the actual temperature and the wind chill factor, to know how many layers and what type of clothing will protect children in cold weather.

Infants

Babies are very susceptible to cold temperatures as their bodies lose heat quickly and they cannot tell you when they are cold. Newborns and infants shouldn’t be outside in extremely low temperatures for any length of time. Even a short trip from the house to the store requires wrapping the baby in layers and protecting any exposed skin from frostbite. Blankets are important for the car as heavy jackets and coats must be removed when the child is placed in the car seat. As a general guideline, infants need one layer more than adults.

Toddlers and Preschool

As they grow into toddlers, children become more excited about their environment and should experience playing outside in the cold. Make sure the toddler is wearing layers that include warm socks, warm shoes or boots, thick pants or snow pants, a heavy coat along with a warm hat and gloves or mittens. If there is snow, make sure the hands and feet are kept dry. Play time outside for toddlers in cold weather should be limited – preferably less than 30 minutes. Of course, if temperatures are extreme (below zero actual or wind chill), keep the children indoors to play.

Elementary School Age

Older children should also wear layers and make sure they are protected when playing in the cold. Although more aware of the cold and its impact on their bodies, elementary school age children may not go inside when they are cold, especially if they are playing in the snow. It’s important to allow outside playtime but check to ensure their clothing remains dry and check their hands and feet often.

children playing outside

All children spending time outdoors in cold weather should be watched closely to make sure they don’t get too cold. Hypothermia, a dangerous lowering of the body’s temperature, and frostbite, damage to the body due to cold, can happen quickly. The cold can injure children, especially when hands and feet get wet from melting snow. If you notice a child shivering or if they start to mumble or slur their speech, get them to a warm place. Remove any wet or cold clothing and wrap them in warm blankets. Offer them warm drinks and if they don’t improve, seek immediate medical attention.

Frostbite occurs when the skin is exposed to cold temperatures for a length of time and most often occurs on the extremities (fingers, toes, ears, nose, cheeks, etc.). If a child says their skin is tingling or aching, they should get inside immediately as their skin may become numb and turn whitish. If the skin appears to be frozen, seek immediate medical attention for proper rewarming.

Surprisingly, overheating can also be a consideration. When dressing a baby or toddler for cold outside temperatures, we sometimes overdo it. Older kids may spend time running around or climbing hills for sledding, getting warm from exertion. If you notice a baby or child sweating while outside, take them in and remove some layers. Make sure to remove any layers that may be wet from sweat – as this can freeze if the child goes out again.

As adults, we’re pretty good at listening to our bodies and understanding when we are getting too cold. However, babies and toddlers, and even school age children, need our supervision and help in protecting their bodies during the cold winter months.

children sledding

Tips to Protect Children in Cold Weather

  • Use layers for warmth. Layers can include a shirt, sweatshirt, and coat. For pants, it may mean a tight-fitting pair of pants with waterproof snow pants on top. By layering, children can peal off one layer or add layers to manage the outside temperature and amount of exertion. Make sure several pairs of socks are used to protect the feet as well as hats, scarves, and mittens to protect the head, neck, and hands.
  • Supervise play areas. School may be out, and roads may be closed but it’s important to supervise children and their play area. Sledding in the street may seem like a good idea to a child but it’s extremely hazardous to be near cars on slick roads with limited visibility. Find safe play zones for children including yards or neighborhood parks.
  • Check their exposure. Children may not understand the signs or able to tell an adult they are too cold. Check each child frequently and assess if they are wet or their hands or feet are too cold. Ask them if they feel any tingling or numbness in their fingers or toes.
  • Decide on a time limit. Children that are having fun in the snow or cold may not want to come inside so having a time limit can set their expectations. It will be easier to get the children inside when they are prepared and if possible, share that the children can go outside again after they warm up. While warming up, encourage them to drink lots of water or serve warm beverages and soup.

Outside exercise and activity are important for children to learn and develop, even during the winter. Toddlers can get restless in the house and young children love to make snow balls and go sledding. These play time activities as well as going to the store or park in the cold are appropriate to do with children of all ages. When going out in the cold, remember to use proper clothing and protection to keep children warm and safe.

5 Ways to Add Music Education to Your Child’s Routine

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills.

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills. When activities include music and play, children have the ability to focus and develop listening skills. Children also learn ways to express themselves and engage socially.

Music can be used to reinforce everything you are doing with children, from learning colors to brushing teeth. You can easily add music throughout your day – at breakfast, dinner, playtime, naptime, and even in the car.

There are songs you can use to reinforce the skills or content you are trying to teach. Here are five ways to add music to your child’s routine.

1. For infants, music can be added to playtime. To practice hand movements that improve coordination, listen to Two Little Blackbirds and create a bird by looping your two thumbs together. As you recite the song, your ‘bird’ flies around. This is a great activity for infants as they often imitate the birds’ movements. You can substitute your child’s name instead of using the names Peter and Paul. To provide variety and help build their vocabulary, ask your little one to give you some names, perhaps mom’s name, brother’s name, or dad’s name.

2. For toddlers, music can be used to introduce counting as part of a nap time routine. Here is the song Ten Little Angels. We chose to use pots and kitchen items so don’t think you need expensive instruments to make music. Music making should be a fun and enjoyable process as seen in the video. You can have your child experiment with keeping the beat softly or loudly, marching or skipping. Make sure to vary movement and dynamics. Let children experiment, succeed, or fail, creating a safe, fun way to learn. At this age, mistakes do not really matter, it’s all about the learning process.

3. Music can help preschoolers learn colors, as in the song, Sing a Rainbow. You can use socks, plastic dishes, gloves, streamers, or anything that will provide you with the colors required. Have the child point or pick up the colored object as it is sung. If you have more than one child, you can give each child a specific color and have him/her hold up their colored object as you sing it. Before and/or after you sing the song, ask the child about the color of an object in a room such as, “What is the color of the rug?” “What in this room is green?” By doing this, you do two things: first, you assess are assessing what your child may or may not already know; and secondly, you build the child’s vocabulary and association with colors.

4. For kindergartners, music can be used to help them gain independence during their morning routine. For example, select a song that is 2 minutes long. Have this song play while they brush their teeth, so they learn how long they should brush. Then add a second song and teach them to use this time to choose their clothes, put their pajamas in the laundry basket, and get dressed. Adding a third song would indicate it’s time to put their lunch box and book in their backpack for school.

5. As children grow into first grade, memorization and advanced learning can be improved through music. I Know an Old Lady is a sing along and it’s often challenging to recall the order as it’s a long song, and sometimes a tongue-twister. Notice I have the animals from the song hanging on the wall behind me. This is to help the child sing along and recall the order (and help you if you do not have the animals memorized). You do not need anything fancy to do this song; before I bought the Old Lady Puppet, I used colored drawings of the animals.

Adding music to a child’s day is all about having fun so don’t worry if you are not a musician or singer. Sing – even if you don’t think you have the “best voice”, as a child is not going to judge you and singing helps them build their vocabulary. Play Instruments! You can use everyday household items such as pots and pans and wooden spoons. You don’t necessarily have to have a real instrument. Make instruments – a shaker can be as simple as an empty water bottle filled with popcorn kernels

Music has proven to increase learning so provide lots of opportunities for children to create and explore music. Encourage children to listen to different types of music and experiment with creating rhythms while making their own music. This helps children realize that they can make decisions for themselves as they build critical thinking skills.

For more information about using music to care for children, a Children and Music course is available within the Advanced Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

Dr. Beth StutzmannAbout the Author. Dr. Beth Stutzmann earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education from Shenandoah University, Master of Music in Horn Performance from Oklahoma City University, and Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory of Music. Dr. Stutzmann began her teaching career in public schools, instructing general music classes in grades PreK-8. She is the AP Music Theory Curriculum Writer for the University System of California and teaches for Georgia Virtual School. She was named Governor’s Teaching Fellow in 2012. In the same year, she was also the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. Dr. Stutzmann is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

5 Reasons Children Should Play Sports

Sports encourages kids to be involved, keep active, and work together.

In today’s world, physical activity is increasingly important to our health. Sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits are more common, which means introducing sports, especially to young children, is important. Sports encourages kids to be involved, keep active, and work together.

1. Establish a healthy lifestyle. Children should get 60 minutes of activity per day and sports are a great way for children to exercise. It is estimated that only 27% of youth in America actually reach this goal. As a childcare provider, you can introduce sports at home by playing soccer in the yard or going for a jog.

boys playing soccer2. Try out a variety of sports to find their favorites. Children should be able to try different sports and pick the ones they enjoy playing. When children have fun, they’re more likely to continue the sport. Depending on the child’s interests, they may choose a team or individual sport. Team sports include baseball, soccer, basketball, football, and volleyball. Individual sports for children include gymnastics, karate, track, swimming, and tennis.

3. Establish shared family interests. Joining the child in the sport, watching the sport, or practicing creates time you can spend time together. Whether it’s footwork drills for soccer or yoga for flexibility, sports is a great way to get involved.

4. Learn to manage stress. Being involved in physical activity can be a healthy outlet for stress. As the children in your care grow older and become introduced to more difficult schoolwork and a more stressful environment, the lessons they learn with sports, including the importance of practice and collaboration, can be applied to other challenges.

5. Learn skills to succeed including responsibility, perseverance, and value of practice. Sports can also teach a sense of responsibility, accomplishment, and camaraderie among other important life lessons. As the parent or caregiver, helping to instill these traits in your children is valuable and ties together healthy activities with lifelong lessons.

For children, mainly beginning in middle school and continuing on through college, sports and athletic programs are often highly emphasized in schools. Being active as a student athlete can be a driving and motivating force, which can give a child the necessary tools to be a goal-setter and the means to be a better student overall. Student athletes also have the opportunity to create better educational opportunities by way of college scholarships for either academics or athletics.

To learn more about the benefits of sports, a Children and Sports course is available free with enrollment in any Amslee Institute program at AmsleeInstitute.com.

About the Author. Sara Townley has a Master of Science in Applied Nutrition – Sport & Fitness from Canisius College and Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Texas – Arlington. Sara is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, CISSN Certified Sports Nutritionist, and Certified Barre Fitness Instructor. She is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.

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