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When Is it Too Cold to Go Outside? Plus, Gear That Really Keeps the Cold Out

Winter is in full force and my kids are getting major cabin fever. Sure, I want to take them out to the park, but sometimes it’s just so frigging cold! My number one priority is to be a good mom, and I don’t want to endanger my kids and their tiny little tootsies and apple cheeks – or worse, risk hypothermia!

But here’s the thing. It’s not as simple as saying, that if it’s below 32 degrees F it’s too cold to go outside. It’s more complicated than that, because what really matters is the wind chill factor, and how cold your body thinks it is. The National Weather Service has a handy chart which explains at what rate a person is likely to get frostbite based on the temperature. For instance, if the wind is calm (5 to 10 mph or less) it’s safe to be outside in as low as 20-degree weather (which is not to say you should spend all day outside if it’s below freezing!). In fact, freezing (32 degrees F) is a pretty good benchmark; my daughter’s kindergarten class goes out to play as long as it is 32 degrees or above. But, beware. Keep an eye on rising or falling temps, and how your kid seems to be managing it. Always be ready to pack it in if they complain of burning skin, are shivering, start slurring their speech, or have reddish or blueish skin — all symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia.

So, it’s cold. We get it. But we still want to get out of the house! More importantly, we should get out of the house. According to, going outdoors in the winter helps kids escape germs and bacteria that cause illness. It’s also the best source of exercise, bolsters imagination, and gives us some of that sweet, sweet vitamin D that many of us lack in the darker, winter months.

If you’ve decided to weather the weather and head outside, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Plan your outdoor time for the warmest part of the day.
  • Dress in layers. Thermal underwear, a turtle neck, pants and shirt, a jacket, hat, neck warmer and mittens are great for cold days.
  • Choose clothing that is wind- and water-resistant can help keep the kids warm and dry.
  • Consider putting younger children in a balaclava, a one-piece head and neck warmer to keep them extra warm.
  • Babies and children who are not yet mobile will get cold faster, so be sure to check their hands and face frequently for coldness.
  • Use sun protection. Even in the winter! Protect your children from the sun by using sunscreen and sunglasses.

We’ve put together a roundup of gear that really keeps the cold out, all of which would make a great (and necessary) addition any child’s winter wardrobe. Dress them in this stuff and it will never be too cold to go outside (OK, yes, sometimes it will be but when it’s not they’ll be so warm you won’t have to deal with the whining). Now, get out there and have some fun!

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