Whether it is walking to school or play dates or just walking to the car, it is so important to dress properly in the cold weather. This winter time of year, children can get quite cranky from being stuck indoors all day long, and it is fun to play outside when it snows; however, you need to be very careful to protect your children from the cold weather. Exposed skin can develop frostbite in even a few minutes.
Some important tips
In general it is best to limit the time outdoors in the cold and windy weather.
LAYERS! Layer your child with shirts, sweaters then a coat. You want to make sure that they stay dry and warm. Layers help provide insulation. Always have gloves or mittens, hat and boots. Nothing concerns me more than seeing kids in their strollers or playing outdoors without protection on their hands or head!
I do know, as a pediatrician (and a mom), that it can be a struggle at times to keep winter gear on, but you will need to figure out the best clothing option that works for your child to keep it on to ensure he stays safe.
Every child (and adult) needs a hat in the winter weather! You lose a good percentage of your body heat from the head. Always also pack extra clothing on hand to ensure you have dry clothes for you kids when they do get wet.
Even if your kids are dressed properly outdoors, you need to watch them closely. Take breaks to come indoors so that they do not get too cold.
Cold weather risks you need to be aware of
Hypothermia – This is when the child gets too cold and the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Signs include excessive shivering, becoming drowsy, confused, slurred speech and becoming weak. Immediately call 911, take your child indoors, and remove wet clothes and put a warm blanket on her until medical assistance arrives.
Frostbite – If the skin is exposed to really cold temperatures, frostbite can occur. Most often this can occur with fingers, toes, ears and nose. If you see the skin becoming very pale and cold, or your child complains of burning, pain or numbness, immediately bring her inside. You can soak the skin in warm water. Warm washcloths work well for the ears and nose. Do not rub affected areas. I would suggest avoiding alternate heating measures, such as heating pads, since the skin may be numb and can be burned. If you notice the skin is not turning back to pink, there are blisters or areas of black skin, immediately call the doctor.
In summary, bundle up! Allow yourself extra time to dress your children properly and prepare for the cold weather. It can be overwhelming at times, or even a struggle to dress and prepare your children for the cold, but it is so important and well worth the time and effort.
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Ali is a board certified pediatrician who practiced general pediatrics for five years in a busy private practice in Manhattan NY. She since has moved into the pharmaceutical industry and oversees and mentors many physicians globally. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician with other moms and dads. Ali’s outside interests include working out, acting, piano, guitar, dance and being a mom! Ali currently lives in NYC with her husband, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.
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