Outdoor play is crucial even during the coldest months so bundle your kids up and head outside! Most indoor activities are limited this year due to the Covid-19 global pandemic so that is all the more reason to encourage your children to play outdoors. Play and exercise is very important for babies and children and provide health benefits.
Caring for Our Children’s national health and safety standards recommends that infants (birth to 12 months) should be taken outside a few times each day. Toddlers (12 months to 3 years) and preschoolers (3 to 6 years) should be encouraged to play outside for at least an hour. The CDC recommends that children ages 5 and up engage in one hour of physical activity each day.
During the winter months, especially in New England, it is important to dress your child in proper winter gear. Make sure they are wearing layers, a jacket, hat, gloves, and warm socks and boots. Children’s bodies do not have the same temperature regulation system as adults. While your child is playing outside be sure to periodically ask them if they are warm enough. Some children will continue to play while they are cold because they are having so much fun. However, this can be dangerous if children become too cold and develop hypothermia. Keep children moving and they will stay warmer.
Health Benefits of Outdoor Play
Breathing Fresh Air is Good for Children
Keeping children cooped up inside with the same air circulating allows viruses and bacteria to fester. Outdoors children do not need to rebreathe the germs in their household and the chance for the spread of infection is reduced.
Outdoor Play Strengthens the Immune System
Even sick children, when bundled properly, benefit from breathing fresh outdoor air. When children play outside more often they develop a stronger immune system and resistance to allergies. Research indicates that children who grow up in rural areas and play outdoors have the best overall health.
Physical Activity is Essential
Physical exercise is essential for children and gives the immune system a sort of power surge for the next 24 hours. It also helps with gross motor development.
Stimulate Kids’ Imagination
The winter allows children to stimulate their imagination and engage in pretend play. They can build snow forts, snowmen, and create their own adventures. They will use their imagination and problem solving skills while also having fun.
Fun Winter Activities
- Long Jump – Children stand at the starting line and jump as far as they can. Compare footprints to see who jumped the farthest.
- Snowball Throw – Children stand at a starting line to see how far they can throw snow balls.
- Snow Pile Hurdles – Children can help make piles of snow and then run and jump over the piles.
- Snow Obstacle Course – Use the piles of snow from the hurdle course and set up an obstacle course for them.
- Snow Scavenger Hunt – Make a list of five things for children to look for while on a walk around the neighborhood.
- Snow Maze – Create a snow path pattern for the children to follow. Children can walk or run through the maze to see if they can find the quickest way from start to finish.
- Snow Creatures – Children can make animals, people, space creatures, or other figures with the snow.