A Pediatrician Explains When Babies Can Play In The Snow Safely

When the snowy weather blankets your neighborhood, you're probably excited to ensure your kid is well-acquainted with snowmen, sledding, and all the other joys of winter weather. But your baby's health is a top concern, as always, and depending on your child's age, you're probably wondering when can babies play in the snow safely? And how can you make sure those winter outings are actually enjoyable for your little snow angel? To learn more, Romper spoke with Mark Zonfrillo, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician and injury prevention specialist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He shared some great advice about keeping infants, as well as toddlers and young kids, happy and warm through the winter.

In general, children who are mobile and over about a year old are able to play in the snow for limited spans of time, as Zonfrillo noted. Once your kid is a toddler, it's typically OK for them to experience snowy weather for brief periods, as long as they are adequately dressed and covered up for the cold weather. How much clothing does this mean? "A good rule of thumb is that they should have one additional layer of clothing than the parent," said Zonfrillo. Basically, it's smart to bundle up your kiddo. As long as your little one is safely bundled, then you're free to introduce them to sledding, snowballs, and other wintry treats for a few minutes at a time.

For infants, however, snowy excursions should be kept pretty brief. "In the early months of life, most babies have difficulty maintaining the appropriate body temperature," said pediatrician David Geller in Baby Center. This means they are not able to tolerate temperature extremes as well as adults. And as Zonfrillo explained, very young infants are the most sensitive to direct contact with snow and freezing winter winds. A temperature that feels brisk to you may seem unbearable to your baby. Plus, if the elements cause infants any numbness or pain, they can't yet communicate that to you, as Zonfrillo further explained. It's a scary scenario.

It may be fine to take your well-bundled baby on a quick spin in the stroller to get some fresh air, but in general babies under one year of age don't need to spend very much time in snowy weather. You can enjoy the snowfall from the comfort of a window in a warm home, because there will be plenty of time for ski lessons and snow forts when your kid is a bit older.

If you are going to brave the winter weather with your baby for a few minutes, there are a few ways to keep your infant cozy in the cold. Dressing your baby in several thin layers of clothing is one way to keep your infant both warm and dry, as noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Boots, mittens, and a hat can also help your baby retain that warmth. Plus, nothing is cuter than a baby all decked out in miniature warm weather gear. Baby hats are freaking precious.

In addition, it's smart to use a waterproof one-pice snowsuit if your kid is going to be in the snow for any length of time. It's an easy way to keep your baby dry and warm when exploring this new wintry environment. Really, few things are worse than feeling both cold and wet, so the snowsuit is a must.

As always, if you have any particular questions about your baby and the winter weather, don't hesitate to ask your pediatrician for advice. Your own doctor will know the ins and outs of your local weather, as well as what's safe for your baby. You and your infant can enjoy the chilly season safely, even if just for a few minutes at a time.

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