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the importance of warm clothing in winter

Children absolutely love snowy weather. If it were up to them, they’d wake up and race out the front door of your home wearing nothing but pajamas at the first sight of snowfall. While this free-spirited nature can be innocent and inspiring, it also means that you as a parent need to help guide your child so they are dressed properly for any adverse weather conditions. When it comes to winter weather, this is an absolute necessity as cold weather can really take a toll on your child’s health.

The Importance of Warm Clothing in Winter

Odds are, at some point in your life, you’ve been told that going out in the cold weather can cause you to “catch a cold.” This is a common misconception that comes from an old wives’ tale which was the byproduct of an era where the idea of germs and viruses were still misunderstood. The truth is, whether you’re indoors or outside, cold weather cannot cause you to catch a virus like the flu or a common cold. And with that, the “common cold” can be caused by up to 200 different viruses, all of which can be transmitted in numerous ways.

The biggest risks associated with going out in the cold underdressed are hypothermia and frostbite, which can both lower the body’s immune system. This lowering of the immune system can, in part, affect your child’s likelihood of catching a virus but won’t guarantee it. Frostbite and hypothermia by themselves can be extremely dangerous and even deadly in severe cases. Frostbite is the freezing of the skin and its underlying tissues as a result of prolonged exposure of the skin to cold temperatures. Hypothermia is a medical condition that arises when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Both can be extremely dangerous and can have lasting effects on your child’s health.

While the cold weather can be extremely dangerous for unprepared children, it is also important to remember that children may not be as in-tune with these symptoms as you are. Whether it’s a result of their accelerated metabolic rate or their enthusiasm for the world, children do not develop the capacity to feel cold as well as adults until they are about 7 years old. You may have noticed this in your own child. The excitement they feel from looking at something like holiday lights may outweigh the fact that they’re standing in below freezing temperatures. That’s why it’s particularly important for you as a parent to make sure they are prepared before going outdoors, especially in the winter.

How to Dress Your Children for Winter Weather

One of the best ways you can be prepared for whatever mother nature throws your way is to check the weather each morning. This will not only help you prepare your child for the day but will also help you remember if you need to bring an extra umbrella or not.

If your child is going to play outside this winter, make sure they are prepared. A good rule of thumb is to dress them in three layers:

  • The first layer closest to their skin should be a breathable, thin fabric that will help remove moisture from the body. Keeping dry is one of the easiest ways to stay warm when outside in cold weather for extended periods of time.
  • The second layer is best for insulation. Here, you’ll want to focus on dressing your child in fleece or wool to help them retain warmth. You can even add in an extra layer or two here during extremely cold weather.
  • The third layer is where you’ll want to add wind and/or rain protection. This will help keep all of those layers on the inside nice and dry, ensuring that your child stays warm all day long. For extremely cold weather or if your child is playing in the snow, we recommend adding bib-style snow pants.

It’s important to remember that you can apply the layering principle to hats, gloves, and socks as well. You may also want to use tape to make tabs on your child’s zippers so they can easily remove a layer or open their jacket without removing their gloves.

How to Help Others

While it’s crucial that you help your own family stay warm this winter, it’s also important to take a moment to help those who perhaps do not have the financial means to dress their own children for the cold winter season.

In the Richmond area, there are numerous opportunities to donate unused or unwanted clothing, especially coats. These articles of clothing will go directly to helping those in need throughout our community during the cold days of winter. For more information about where you can drop off coats and clothing, click here.

With these tips on hand, your child can still love the snowy, wintery weather and you can have peace of mind that they will be safe from the low temperatures. For more information about your child’s health needs, contact Glen Allen Pediatrics today by dialing (804) 282-4210. As a small practice, the doctors, nurses, and staff at Glen Allen Pediatrics will get to know you and your child, providing continued, quality care that is customized to your child’s needs.