30°F – 40°F
It’s chilly but tolerable when dressed properly (think layers, gloves, and a hat). But kids should stay outside for only two hours, max, and take a break every 30 to 45 minutes to warm up.
- RELATED: Dressing Your Baby for Winter
20°F – 30°F
It’s pretty darn cold, so add a thicker hat and pair of gloves and wool socks. Kids shouldn’t stay outside for more than one hour, and should take regular breaks.
Kids should be outside for only brief periods in the bitter cold. Outfit ’em with long johns, a face mask, and earmuffs.
Signs It’s Time To Come In
See any of these? Lure them inside with some hot cocoa!
- Rosy Cheeks. They’re caused by blood vessels dilating and then bursting after narrowing. It’s usually harmless and will clear up on its own, but it can lead to frostbite.
- Runny Nose. Low temps mean low humidity, making the air dry. Our noses run to moisturize the air before it reaches our lungs.
- Shivering. The brain is reacting to the cold by telling the muscles to heat up the body. This is a sure signal to get inside ASAP.
Celebrate the season with these easy projects that kids will love to make.
It’s easy to turn plastic toys into Jurassic jewels. For each, twist a 1/4-inch screw eye into a small plastic dinosaur. Brush the dino with tacky glue, sprinkle with fine glitter to cover, then set it on waxed paper to dry. Add a length of string for hanging.
Petite Gumball Machines
Add a bit of sweetness to your holiday with this tiny version of a childhood favorite. Roll a 3/4- by 5-inch strip of card stock into a 1 1/4-inch-diameter tube and secure it with tacky glue (clamp it with a clothespin until the glue dries). Glue one end of a small rectangle of silver glitter card stock to the tube. Fill a 1 1/2-inch-diameter clear glass ball ornament with small beads. For the base, glue the tube to a large button (ours has a 1 1/2-inch diameter), then glue the ornament in place.
Put a gaggle of these guys on your tree for sure smiles. To make one, adhere a mini pinecone to a wooden bead with tacky glue. Once dry, glue an acorn cap to the top of the bead. Add a velvet ribbonscarf and secure it with glue. Use fine-point permanent markers to add eyes and a mouth, then tie on a length of string for hanging.
Chicken soup really works, antibiotics aren’t the answer, and other key info you need to survive the coughing and sneezing season.
Why Kids Are Such Cold Magnets
On average, kids under age 3 catch six to eight colds a year. “We think that since most children are encountering viruses for the first time, their immune systems aren’t able to kill them as quickly as when they encounter them again,” says Carol J. Baker, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. What’s more, because kids aren’t overly concerned about having a runny nose, the virus tends to end up on their hands, clothing, and toys—where it can live for 30 minutes. When another child touches an infected toy and then rubs her nose or eyes, she can catch the cold.
However, having lots of sniffles early in life may protect kids later on. Researchers have found that children who develop frequent colds in preschool catch fewer colds during their school years—presumably because their immune systems have learned to recognize and fight off the bugs. And a German study has found that babies who have more than one cold before their first birthday are less likely to develop asthma by age 7.
Colds typically last 6 to 14 days—longer than many parents think they’re supposed to. “They’re most contagious during the first three days of symptoms, but you can still catch a cold from someone who’s had it for two weeks,” says David Jaffe, M.D., director of emergency medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Officially called gastroenteritis, stomach flu is an infection of the digestive system — and is totally unrelated to the regular flu (influenza), which affects the respiratory system. Stomach flu is the second most common illness kids get, after respiratory infections like colds. Although unpleasant, stomach flu is usually not serious. It’s usually caused by viruses, but can also come from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, as well as some parasites.
Stomach flu causes inflammation of a child’s stomach and digestive tract, usually triggering vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. “Babies and young children are especially prone to infection because their immune systems are still forming, so they haven’t yet built up the antibodies to fight off germs,” says Rita Steffen, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
What Is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is one type of bug that causes stomach flu and may make children sicker than other types (like adenovirus, enterovirus, astrovirus, and Norwalk virus). Until recently, most children had been infected with rotavirus once by age 2 and nearly all had had at least one bout by age 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This particular bug is responsible for about 400,000 doctor visits and 200,000 emergency room trips in the U.S. every year. However, a new rotavirus vaccine may drastically decrease the number of cases once it becomes widely used.
Your child’s most likely to get infected with rotavirus between November and May, especially if he’s regularly exposed to lots of other kids in situations such as daycare or playgroups. Rotavirus is very contagious and can easily spread among kids and teachers. As with other viruses, there’s no quick treatment — you have to let the bug run its course. Keeping your child hydrated is the best way to help him feel better. In severe cases, a baby can become dehydrated in as little as six hours.
What Are the Main Symptoms of Stomach Flu?
The early signs of stomach flu can be easy to miss, especially in babies and toddlers. Be on the lookout for these red flags:
- Vomiting (more volume than usual everyday spit-up)
- Watery diarrhea
- Fussiness or irritability
- Acting more tired and sluggish than usual
- Decreased appetite
Older children may also complain of tummy cramps, muscle aches, and headaches. Symptoms generally set in one to three days after your kid’s been exposed to the bug, and can last anywhere from a day or two up to 10. The main risks from stomach flu are not from the symptoms themselves (although unpleasant), but the fact that upset stomach can make your child very dehydrated.
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A familiar refrain has been growing among moms in my Northern New Jersey community: When will winter be over? Because we are all so sick of, well, our kids (and sometimes us!) getting sick.
Now a new study published in the British Medical Journal says there may be an OTC vitamin we can take to prevent colds and respiratory infections from hijacking our lives from November through March. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not vitamin C (although taking that certainly won’t hurt!).
Researchers looked at 11,000 people across 14 different countries, and found that beefing up on vitamin D can reduce one’s risk of getting a cold by 12 percent. As a mom who has been back and forth to the pediatrician more times than I care to think about recently, I’ll take those odds!