Winter Play: Can You Leave Your Kids Out in the Cold?

The kids are scratching at the windows and doors. The holiday gifts have long been played. Outdoor adventure is calling their names. Cabin fever is a thing! Now I know. I know. I don’t have much to complain about living in Southern California. But recently, we’ve seen temperatures that give me me pause before I push the kids out the door. But how low can temps go before you say “no”?

Are there Even Rules for This?

I wondered if there are official guidelines for leaving your kids out in the cold when it is literally freezing outside. Turns out, yes. That exists. A group of pediatricians wrote a list of guidelines for cold weather play that is super helpful for moms. It has a chart that even breaks the guide into easy-to-read zones.

Here’s the gist. Kids can happily play outside with temperatures 30 degrees or higher. For temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees, you’ve got to keep more of a watch because the kiddos can chill more quickly. And when temperatures are less than 20 degrees, keep them inside.

Dress Up

Making sure your little ones are dressed for the weather is a MUST. Dress them in layers that they can ditch if they start to get sweaty. Keep their bodies warm with hats, gloves and scarves. Water-resistance and waterproof clothing/shoes will help their skin stay dry and dry equals warm.

Drink Up

Lastly, take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water! Just because it’s not hot, doesn’t mean they can’t experience dehydration. Coming inside to warm up every half hour or hour (depending on age and size) helps your kids maintain a healthy body temperature so they can keep at it longer over the course of the day.

Suit Up & Join In

Kids are the best engineers for play and, when left to their own devices, usually find a way make the best of their time. But don’t be afraid to jump in too! Get out there and get your own heart pumping. Plus, if you’re out in the cold too, you can be a better judge of how cold it truly is and when it’s time for a warm up break.

Winter outdoor play doesn’t have to be stressful. By being mindful of temporal guidelines, dressing in layers and in appropriate gear, and a few fun games, kids can play outside for hours on end ­– and sleep great at night.

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