Winter in Montreal brings both pleasures — the first magical snowfall, skating on a cold but sunny afternoon — and a battle for parents to keep kids dressed in warm clothing when they insist on going out without hats and mittens.
Cindy Shtevi, mother of Edan, 4 and Ellia, 2, makes sure that the clothing her kids wear outside is high quality, with plenty of padding to keep them warm. “I also make sure the boots are easy to put on, with Velcro, and that there is rubber on the bottom so the water can’t get in,” she adds. Shtevi says daycare has facilitated things because the kids know they have to follow the rules and wear appropriate clothing.
Shtevi’s biggest concern is when clothing gets wet, as her son in particular doesn’t seem to notice or care. She supervises her children’s outdoor playtime and doesn’t let them stay outside on very cold days for long periods of time. Taking these sorts of precautions reduces the risk of a child getting frostbite or even hypothermia, a condition whereby the body temperature drops significantly below 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, as kids get older, making sure they dress warmly in the winter months may require new strategies. Montreal mom Selina Itzkowitz has two children, Sean, 13, and Zoe, 10. She tries to make sure her kids wear their clothing in layers and she invests in fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. Itzkowitz also buys clothing that her children find attractive.
“We have loads of neck warmers; it takes awhile for the kids to realize that the neck needs to be protected,” she says. “I don’t believe in scarves. There have been too many accidents with scarves getting caught in chair lifts and kids getting strangled.”
Itzkowitz adds that hats have never been a problem in her family. “I find that if you get something that they like, they’ll wear it.”
However, now that Zoe is in Grade 5, she is no longer required to wear snow pants at recess or lunch in the schoolyard. Knowing that her daughter is not the type to sit around on a bench and chat with friends, Itzkowitz has had to trust her daughter’s good judgment.
“I know Zoe likes to throw a football around, or play in the snow, so I am sending her to school with a pair of snow pants to keep in her locker.”
Sean’s behaviour is starting to change as well. “I had a taste of reality when my son started high school and said ‘Mom, nobody wears boots.’” Nonetheless, she managed to convince him that wearing running shoes instead of winter boots to the ski hill made no sense and they came to a compromise. Although he still insists on wearing running shoes to school, he will put on winter boots while at the ski hill. So his feet stay warm at least some of the time.
While parents often bemoan the arrival of the cold weather, with all those hats, mittens and boots to buy, warm clothing can make the difference between a winter spent enjoying the outdoors and endless complaints about being cold. So bundle up and enjoy the season.
Ideal clothing for outdoor play
All winter activities require warm, dry clothing. To prevent frostbite, children should be dressed in warm clothes, including:
Hats – Warm, close-fitting, and covering ear lobes; not a ‘fashion’ hat or baseball cap.
Mittens – Gloves do not keep hands warm as effectively as mittens.
Loose layers – An absorbent synthetic fabric next to skin, a warmer middle layer, and a water resistant/repellent outer layer.
Socks – A single pair of socks, either wool or a wool blend (with silk or polypropylene) is better than cotton, which offers no insulation when wet. Avoid extra thick socks as they can cause cold feet by restricting blood flow and air circulation around the toes.
Boots – Be sure boots are dry and not too tight.
Jackets – Jackets should be zipped up. Remove drawstrings on hoods and jackets because they are also a safety hazard; better yet, buy clothes without drawstrings.
Scarves – Use tube-shaped neck warmers instead of scarves, to avoid strangulation. If scarves must be used, tuck them into jackets.
Children should get out of wet clothes and shoes as quickly as possible as they are the biggest factors in frostbite.
Courtesy of Safe Kids Canada