Child care rules require providers to take infants outdoors each day even in the winter. Parents often object, fearing their babies will catch colds or become too chilly. How can parents be reassured of their children’s well-being, even in cold weather?
In our moderate climate infants are able to go outside nearly every day. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge when weather conditions are safe, especially with infants, whose small bodies lose heat quickly in cold weather. Wind chill factors can make a chilly day even colder. How do you decide when it’s safe to take children outside in winter? The Child Care Weather Watch provides guidelines for child care providers regarding temperature that may be dangerous for outdoor play.
• When temperatures are at or below 20º F, including wind chill factor, infants
should not go outside.
• When temperatures are between 21-32º F, outdoor time should be limited to 20-30
Reassure parents about the benefits of fresh air. Getting outside each day helps keep
infants healthy. Infectious disease organisms are less concentrated outdoors so children are less likely to re-breathe the groups’ germs. Light exposure to the skin helps provide the child’s body with vitamin D.
Precautions to make sure infants stay warm in cold weather.
• Bundle children in warm layered clothing.
• Make sure clothing is dry.
• Check children’s hands and feet every 15 minutes in cold weather for color and
Even a short period outdoors will benefit babies and providers, providing a chance to
breathe fresh air, feel the cool wind on their faces and get a bit of sunlight on their skin.