Girl in snow - iStockThis winter, Be Out There is encouraging you to get outdoors with your kids! Traditionally, conversation about the weather is what most people would call small talk: informal and unimportant. However, when we discovered that weather is the biggest barrier preventing American kids from spending daily time outside, the conversation turned serious.

Despite their own wonderful winter memories, contemporary parents can be reluctant to send kids outside when temperatures drop. Myths about cold and illness, concerns about safety and preparedness, and lack of knowledge about the mental and physical health benefits to year-round outdoor play make moms and dads think twice about braving the elements.

For example: take the commonly-held belief that spending time in the cold can give you one. Is there evidence that spending time outside in the winter will make your child sick? According to the experts, no, because cold air does not cause colds, viruses do. In fact, staying indoors where germs are more likely to catch up with you may be a bigger problem. “Kids should get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, and it’s great if they can do so outside for the fresh air and more room to play,” says Dr Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and author of Heading Home with Your Newborn. “You can’t catch a cold from simply being in the cold.”

Cold Weather Tips for Outdoor Play

Playing outside in winter does have its health risks, however. Having appropriate cold-weather gear is crucial. Here are some things to remember when taking kids outdoors in winter weather:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges dressing infants and children in several thin layers to keep them dry and warm.
  • Don’t forget a warm coat, boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play and have children come inside periodically to warm up to help prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
  • AAP also reminds parents to coat kids’ faces with sunscreen, as sunlight, especially reflecting off snow, can cause burns. “Be sure to bundle up and limit exposure to as few as 20 or 30 minutes for little kids if it’s [below freezing], and make sure they warm up and change into dry clothing if necessary when they come in,” says Dr. Shu.

Boy in Snow - iStockFor more information and tips to overcome the weather and get kids outdoors, check out Be Out There’s Weather Report.

If you need another reason to get outside this winter, Be Out There is hosting a winter-themed photo contest: Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Parents are encouraged to submit their most adorable photographs of kids playing outside in the winter.

For details on the photo contest, visit

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Published: January 10, 2014