The first day of spring signals warmer weather, longer days, and more opportunities to be outside. But for your child, the spring equinox on March 20 might also mark the beginning of some puzzling new behaviors. And it also means that there are some important health indicators you'll want to start looking out for. So how exactly will the first day of spring affect your child?
For one thing, you might find that your kiddo gets distracted more easily. Whether you're trying unsuccessfully to get her to focus on a simple task, or her daycare teacher is reporting that she's staring absentmindedly out the window all afternoon, she might be so enticed by the warm sun that she can't stick with indoor activities for long.
So while it's fine to make exceptions once in awhile and cave in to the call of the outdoors, you don't want to make a habit of it. Understood suggested sticking to your routine, especially when it comes to things like later bedtimes or extended playtimes — an occasional compromise is fine, but rules are rules, and too much deviation will just exacerbate the problem. Understood also reminded parents to model good behavior themselves: Spring fever might have you tempted to skip chores or slack off, but if your kid sees you doing that, he's going to follow suit.
In addition to higher levels of distraction, you might find that the first day of spring coincides with your kid going through some unexpected mood changes. That could be a good thing or a bad thing: According to one study, preschool-aged children who typically exhibited more negative personality traits showed much more positive social behavior when the temperatures got nicer and the sun came out. But for children who usually showed more positive social behavior, higher humidity correlated with them displaying more antisocial behavior. So if your little social butterfly starts showing a bit of his unfriendly side on March 20, don't be too shocked. But if your child was being a bit temperamental this winter, higher temps might make her a bit sunnier, too.
One definite downside of sunnier spring weather is an increase in pollen and other allergens. If your child is one of the estimated 35.9 million Americans who have seasonal allergies, according to Parents, then the arrival of spring might feel a bit more threatening than welcoming. In addition to a general increase in plant-based allergens, the changing weather can also stir up even more pollen. So if your child is susceptible, warned Parents, you'll want to be on the alert for potential allergy flare-ups during times of increased wind or rain. On the bright side, there are plenty of effective treatments available by prescription or over-the-counter, so talk to your pediatrician to see what they recommend.
Allergies aren't the only thing to look out for with the changing weather. You might also need to make temperature adjustments to your kid's room and alterations to their usual wardrobe. Especially for little ones and babies, who can't tell you that they're too warm or too cold, you'll need to touch their hands, feet, and belly frequently to make sure they're comfortable, recommended the Child Development Institute. Warm, pink skin is good; sweaty or cold skin is bad.
In addition to adjusting the thermostat as necessary, plan to dress your little one in layers so that you can add or remove clothes depending on how they're reacting to any sudden temperature shifts. Even in colder weather, you'll want to stick with multiple thin layers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, with the rule of thumb being to dress your child in one layer more than an adult would feel comfortable in.
You'll also want to be vigilant about bath time, advised Baby Center. If there's going to be a sudden temperature shift from cool air to warm bath, maybe try setting up a space heater nearby (obviously not by the water). Or, if the surrounding air is already warm enough that you're using a fan or the A/C, protect your baby from any blasts of cool air, particularly while she's undressed, the site suggested.
As long as you're prepared, the first day of spring is a time for you and your kids to celebrate the return of warmer weather, longer days, and lots more sunshine. So go ahead, give in and take advantage of Daylight Savings to spend a little extra time outside in the sun.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.