Winter weather brings exciting new outdoor adventures for you and your child. From tobogganing to building snowmen, the winter months offer opportunities to stay active and spend time together outdoors. When planning outdoor activities, it’s important to remember that the weather in Alberta can be unpredictable and temperatures can drop rapidly. Because babies and children have smaller bodies, they are at greater risk of becoming too cold (leading to hypothermia). Ensuring that both you and your child are dressed appropriately for the chilly weather is an important component of safe outdoor fun.
Here are a few tips you need to know for outdoor and indoor winter safety.
Protect your child outdoors during cold weather:
Dress your baby or child in layers. This way, clothing can be added or removed as needed. A rule of thumb is to dress them in one more layer than you are wearing.
Put a warm hat on your child’s head, and make sure their hands and feet are also covered.
Avoid using scarves as they can catch while playing and moving around, which can cause strangulation.
Remember to use water-proof clothing when spending time in the snow.
Young children, less than five years old, need frequent breaks to warm up when the weather is cold.
Remove blankets before putting your child in a safety seat and tuck a blanket over your child after they are secured. Be sure not to cover your child’s face. Bulky winter clothing could affect the harness system of a child safety seat. Check with the car seat manufacturer for alternative methods of clothing during the winter.
Don’t forget about the sun:
Protect your baby by keeping her out of direct sunlight when possible. Remember, the sun’s strongest rays are between 11am and 4pm.
Teach your child to play in the shade.
Use ultraviolet (UV) blocking sunglasses. They will protect your child’s eyes from the harmful UV rays from the sun.
Use sunscreen safely:
For a baby less than six months old, don’t use sunscreen. Try to keep your baby out of direct sunlight.
For a baby six months to one-year-old, use sunscreen only if your baby can’t avoid being in the sun. Try to keep your baby out of direct sunlight. If you must be in the sun, put on the sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Keep skin covered with light clothing.
For children one year and older, generously apply a sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Make sure you re-apply it every two hours, as well as after any activities that get your child wet or sweaty.
Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
Protect your child indoors during cold weather:
Dress your child in the same amount of clothing that you’re wearing.
Make sure all outside doors are secure so your child can’t get out on his or her own.
Try to keep your house temperature between 20°C and 22°C during the winter months.
Don’t use electric blankets, heating pads or hot water bottles because they could burn your child.
This information contains excerpts from Alberta Health Services’ Healthy Parents, Healthy Children print and online resources. For more information on topics related to pregnancy and being a parent, and for information on where you can pick up print copies of the Healthy Parent, Healthy Children resources, free of charge, go to healthyparentshealthychildren.ca.
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