Kids Should Only Be in the Snow For Short Periods, According to Doctors

Kids love to play in the snow - building snow fortresses, throwing snowball fights, and even eating snow - but how long is it safe for the little ones to be outside in extremely cold weather? With much of the US facing record lows, more and more parents are asking this question. POPSUGAR spoke to doctors to get an answer.
How long can children stay in the snow?
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State-certified pediatrician Amna Husain, MD, told POPSUGAR that smaller bodies have a harder time regulating thermoregulation or body temperature. "The younger the child is, the lower the ratio of body mass to body surface area, which means that more heat can escape through their skin," said Dr. Husain, noting how long a child can safely spend outside in the snow depends on both the child's size and their ability to communicate how cold they feel.
How long can babies stay in the snow?
General Practitioner Jaydeep Tripathy, MBBS, MRCP (UK), MBA-MPH, AFIH, told POPSUGAR that you should only take a baby out in freezing weather, as babies' bodies lose heat faster than they can produce when absolutely necessary is, and in these cases, make sure that you take the correct safety precautions to keep the child warm. Dr. However, Tripathy cautioned against taking a child out at temperatures of -15 degrees Fahrenheit and below "because it can freeze the baby's skin quickly in minutes".
Related: 20 Indoor Activities So good your kids won't mind staying indoors
How long can toddlers stay in the snow?
Dr. Tripathy said toddlers can play in the snow for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, but never in temperatures of -15 degrees Fahrenheit and below. He added that they should be properly dressed in warm coats, gloves, hats, snow pants and boots. Dr. Husain suggested checking in with toddlers regularly to see if they are cold by asking them, feeling the temperature on their necks, and looking for non-verbal signs that they are feeling cold, like tremors.
How long can school-age children stay outside in the snow?
"School-age children can generally stay outside longer than toddlers and babies during winter," said Dr. Tripathy. "If they are physically active, properly dressed, and the wind chill or temperature isn't below -15 degrees Fahrenheit, they can play for about an hour." Dr. Husain said school-age kids are generally verbal enough to tell you if they're too cold, but parents still have to check-in frequently. Adult supervision should ensure children wear enough layers and stay dry.
What are the warning signs of hypothermia in children?
Hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature, is the main concern of parents when it comes to monitoring how long their children are playing outside in the snow. Dr. Tripathy said babies are most susceptible to hypothermia. If your temperature drops below normal (between 96 and 100.4 Fahrenheit) you should call 911 immediately. He cited cold, pale skin or redness and abnormally low energy levels as signs of babies and clumsiness, tremors and blurring of words, or disorientation as signs of toddlers.
Frostbite is another problem when children are in the snow for too long. "[Frostbite] happens in extreme cold, when the layer of tissue just under the skin starts to freeze. It feels like it is burning before it goes numb, but babies and toddlers cannot alert you," said Dr. Tripathy warned. "If you suspect frostbite, warm your child up immediately, soak the frostbite in warm water, and feed him or her with hot water or milk (or breast milk, if possible). If the area blisters, take your baby to the emergency room or office see your pediatrician doctor to be sure, "he advised. As long as you check in with your little one, there is no reason not to have a little fun in the snow!

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