Last year I took up cross-country skiing in the winter, on account of I'm Canadian and winter lasts for around five months of the year. My friends told me it would be great, that I would look forward to the snow. My friends are all dirty liars. Winter is long, dark, and cold no matter how you slice it. And unfortunately, winter can be a dangerous time for kids too, particularly fragile little babies. But before you start freaking out and figuring out how to avoid leaving the house for the foreseeable future, hear me out. It's not all bad.
OK, so surviving the winter with kids can seem tough for a few reasons. For instance, there's the whole wardrobe headache. Nobody wants their little one wandering around outside without being first bundled in a winter coat, but studies have shown that winter coats in car seats are dangerous. According to a scary video by Good Egg Safety, “In a collision, the harness isn’t as close to your child’s body as it needs to be to allow it to properly restrain them.” If the coat is too loose, your little one might not be secured properly and in the event of a collision could be injured.
The general rule of thumb is, if you can fit more than two fingers between your child and their safety harness, it's not tight enough. If you're worried about your baby or child getting cold, tuck a blanket around them once they are properly secured, but make sure the blanket doesn't go beyond armpit level.
Beyond wardrobe and transportation woes (because just trying to carry your baby or toddler to the car in the first place feels like a mid-level obstacle course), there's also the risk of flu-related viral infections. If you are still breastfeeding your baby, their immune system should be stronger and hopefully able to ward off seasonal diseases. If not, many pediatricians recommend getting the flu shot if your child is between two and 18 years old.
Then there's the obvious: frostbite. According to KidsHealth.org, children are especially immune to frostbite since their skin can't absorb and hold heat the way ours can. That means you've got to keep an eye on the little ones to make sure that, while they're busy building all sorts of snow creatures, their fingers and toes don't become red and tender, because that spells frostnip — the initial stages of frostbite. Once it goes past that point, and your child's skin becomes waxy and pale, the situation is definitely serious (no really, rush them to the hospital at that point, and whatever you do, do not rub the area or try to fix it yourself). Of course, how fast that condition develops depends on the weather (or windchill, which factors in heavily as well) — but just know that kids and babies can develop frostbite in no time at all, according to Seattle Children's Hospital, so be on the lookout and keep the kids well-bundled this winter.
These are all awful, dangerous things, and if left unprevented, could spell serious disaster. So make sure you read the guidebook they gave you when you left the hospital (kidding) and figure out how to prevent loose carseat seatbelts and terrible sick-periods now.
Of course, if you have an older child, there is a secret, hidden danger I feel I should warn you about as a veteran mom of 22 years. It's two words: "I'm bored."
Winter can be boring for kids. They're inside a lot. It's cold and dark. They get bored. And boredom is the root of all bad things for children.
Boredom means tormenting their siblings, or the pets, or you as you try to make supper and just need two minutes of peace and quiet. Boredom is writing on the walls with permanent marker, breaking their favorite toy then crying miserably for an hour, wanting to eat every ten minutes (unless the food is a fruit or a vegetable and then they simply can't eat another bite).
Boredom is acting out in school, tearing apart their bedroom, crying over wearing hats/mittens/snowpants/coats/boots or anything that isn't pyjamas.
Beware the true danger of winter, parents everywhere. Thy name is boredom. (And, you know — all those other things too.)