Winter’s landscape often offers some of the country’s most beautiful views. Vistas of snow-capped mountains, the sun lighting up a fresh blanket of snow and tree-lined roads covered in a carpet of snowflakes are enchanting scenes of winter. Yet, the biting cold that often accompanies these picturesque sites can be anything but enchanting. Winter’s frigid temperatures and other characteristics of the season can in fact be dangerous, especially for the youngest in the family.
It’s not only what happens outside that causes health issues. Being indoors can contribute to winter woes, too. Although our cozy homes provide safe havens from the cold, bacteria and viruses can spread easily and quickly when we’re confined to smaller spaces for long periods of time. We can become lethargic when spending a lot of time indoors as well. When outdoors, exposure to extreme temperatures can cause hypothermia and frostbite. Because of babies’ and toddlers’ unique body make-up, they are more susceptible to
the extreme fluctuations in temperature and the resulting health effects. They lose heat quicker than adults do and they are not as able as adults to regulate their body temperature. Nor are they always able to recognize or articulate their discomfort. As a result, they’re more likely to develop adverse health effects when exposed to temperature extremes. For both adults and kids, shivering and ‘goose bumps’ can in more serious situations, give way to disorientation and arrhythmias, an abnormal beating of the heart.
Playing it Safe in Winter
Winter temperatures and dry air can be punishing, especially for the youngest among us, but there are plenty of precautions you can take to keep your family safe from winter’s chill.
5 WAYS TO KEEP HEALTHY INDOORS
- Wash hands frequently to avoid spreading bacteria – good advice all year long. DON’T FORGET TO WASH YOUR BABY’S HANDS. WIPE DOWN TOYS WITH A NONTOXIC CLEANING SOLUTION OR JUST WITH WARM WATER AND SOAP. RINSE WELL.
- Prevent Dry Skin – No need to bathe the kids every day, and use perfume-free baby soaps and lotions to keep their skin moisturized during the driest months. Bathing and showering should be fun – just make sure that the water isn’t too hot and the bathroom is warm
- Protecting the Skin – Apply a natural or organic lip balm regularly to tiny lips. Sunscreen is needed in the winter, too. The sun may feel good on a cold’s winter day, but it is reflecting off the snow and can cause sunburn.
- Preventing Congestion – Dry air aggravates little noses, drying out the sinuses and causing that uncomfortable, stuffed-up feeling. Easily susceptible to congestion, those teeny, tiny nasal passages fill up quickly, making it very difficult for baby to breathe comfortably. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the room, especially in children’s bedrooms.
THE AAP NOW STATES THAT EITHER WARM OR COOL MIST HUMIDIFIERS ARE EQUALLY EFFECTIVE. MAKE SURE TO KEEP YOUR CHILD AWAY FROM THE HOT STEAM OF THE WARM MIST. WHATEVER STSTEM YOU CHOOSE REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THE CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS AND REPLACE FILTERS AS NEEDED.
- Hydrations – Keep bodies hydrated. The dry winter air causes kids to lose water through their breath. Warm drinks and soups count along with other fluids and can make the task of keeping those little bodies hydrated. more interesting for them.
5 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR BABY HEALTHY OUTDOORS
- Dress in layers – Light layers are best, beginning with a base of leggings. A general rule of thumb is to add one layer more to babies and toddlers than what adults would wear. So, you’re bundled up in three layers, bundle up baby in three layers plus a blanket. The outer layer should be waterproof.
- Cover Babies Head – Babies lose a large amount of heat through their heads, and if the head gets cold, the body will follow soon after. Hats can also help protect baby’s ears from the bitter winter wind. But, be careful with any garments that can pose a choking or strangling hazard like scarves and hood with strings. Mittens are also important, as the feel of the baby’s hands is a good indication as to how the body temperature is.
- Extra Fuel – Feed the kids a healthy snack before heading outside to play; the calories from those snacks will provide needed energy.
- When is it too cold to go outside? Just like with babies, letting toddlers play or be outside in temperatures or wind chills below 20 degrees F should always be avoided. Temperatures between 30 and 40 F degrees are generally acceptable for outdoor play; anything below freezing is too dangerous for your baby.
- Car Seat Safety – Keep the carrier portion of the car seat indoors in between car trips. Storing it at room temperature will reduce your child’s loss of body heat in the car. Check the tautness of the car seat harness before every trip. Lots of bulky layers may make it difficult to tighten the harness. Be sure it fits snugly against your little one’s chest. Strap, then wrap. Once buckled in, put your child’s coat on backwards or cover her with a blanket. Keep the top layer removable so that your baby doesn’t get too hot once the car warms up.
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, HAVE extra blankets, dry clothing, hats, mittens and non-perishable snacks IN THE CAR.
Whether you’re snuggling with your favorite little folks beneath a comfy and cozy blanket, or venturing to the great outdoors, when you take the necessary precautions, you’ be able to enjoy all the winter season has to offer.