Winter Clothing

How to Dress and Protect Your Child in the Winter Months

As the temperature dips and winter clothing becomes a necessity, parents start to worry about how to keep their kids warm, safe and happy during the chilly winter months. Depending on where you live, winter could bring anything from cooler nights and increased rains to ice storms and snow banks. Even if your area doesn’t get severe winter weather, the season brings increased possibility of colds and flu, chapped skin or more serious illness, so planning ahead for winter is vital

Dressing your kids for cold

Even if it doesn’t seem terribly cold outside, you should always dress babies and children warmly when you take them outside. Dress kids in several thin layers of winter clothing designed to keep them warm and dry. Suggested winter clothing includes thermal undershirts and long johns, turtleneck shirts, pants, sweaters, coats, warm socks, boots, and gloves or mittens. A hat is a must – the body vents heat through the top of the head, so protective headwear is essential.

Experts say that a good rule of thumb when dressing older babies and toddlers is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions – so if you’re wearing pants, shirt and a sweater, dress your toddler in thermal underwear beneath their clothes and top them off with a warm hat.

Guarding against hypothermia

When your child’s temperature dips below 98.6 degrees due to playing outdoors in extremely cold weather, that’s hypothermia. If they’re well bundled up in plenty of layers and are very active, they should be fine. But sometimes, if a child isn’t wearing sufficient winter clothing for the weather, they can become dangerously hypothermic. If they do, you’ll notice them shivering and becoming lethargic and clumsy. In addition to the child’s body temperature dropping, they’ll begin slurring their words. If this happens, immediately call 9-1-1. Bring the child inside, remove any damp clothing, and wrap the child in blankets until help arrives.

The drier air of winter brings a few special considerations for children, too. Some children suffer from winter nosebleeds – if that’s the case with your kid, encourage them to wrap a warm muffler around their face when going outside. A cold-air humidifier in the child's room at night can help, as can saline nose drops. Babies and very young children may have problems with dry skin in the winter, so some pediatricians suggest bathing your child less, just two or three times per week, to avoid skin dryness.

Parents should also keep in mind that winter is cold and flu season – not because children are exposed to cold weather, but because viruses are more prevalent when kids are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Teaching your child to cough and sneeze away from other people and to wash their hands frequently will help cut down o the frequency of winter illnesses. Children from six months to two years old should be vaccinated against flu, as well.

Storing winter clothes for next year

When the sun starts to come out again and the weather turns warmer, it’s time to think about putting your child’s winter clothes – and your own – aside until next year. Rather than shove them to one side of the closet or dumping them into a bin, you’ll get more from your clothes if you take care of them for next year:

  • Make sure all the clothes are clean before packing them away. Food stains and dirt left on your shirts, sweaters and thermal can become set into your clothes during several months of storage.
  • Plastic storage containers can excellent for storing clothes, and can protect them from moths and other bugs (although if any bug larvae are packed with the clothes, they’ll hatch and do their thing regardless). Cardboard boxes can be used, so long as they’re new and clean. Unused suitcases are good for storage – after all, they’re already taking up space anyway. Lining containers with acid-free tissue adds another level of protection.
  • Don’t hang sweaters or other knit items, as they can become baggy and misshapen. Carefully fold knit winter clothes, and stack them in a storage container with the lightest items on top, heaviest items on the bottom. Stack your folded items from the lightest items on top to the heaviest items on bottom. Stack them loosely so air can circulate.

By taking care of your kids and dressing them in warm winter clothes, you can keep them healthy and safe throughout the colder months. And by caring for your family’s winter clothes through the rest of the year, you’ll be sure to have proper apparel for everyone when the chill hits the air.

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