While we may not have had a white Christmas, it’s looking increasingly likely we will be seeing snow in the coming few days as the Met Office predicts a prolonged cold snap this January, with temperatures frequently falling below zero.
Cold weather can be particularly challenging when you have young children to look after. The importance of outdoor play is undeniable but it’s easy to avoid it, worrying that within minutes they will either be running back inside complaining of frozen fingers, or be rendered motionless having been wrapped up in so many bulky layers they’ve been left looking like mini versions of Ghostbuster’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
We consulted childcare expert Elaine Kobbeltvedt who has run nurseries both in the UK and Norway, where temperatures often reach -10 in winter! Elaine is passionate about getting kids playing outside whatever the weather, so here’s her advice on how to keep kids warm while enjoying the outdoors this winter:
Elaine’s Top Tips:
1) Layering: The Norwegians all use the layering concept when it comes to dressing children for the cold. You have a layer next to the skin which is a soft material to prevent any rubbing or irritation, then a fleece layer to keep them warm, then a top layer of a coverall or rainsuit (depending on weather) to protect them from the elements. This ensures the child is kept warm and protected, but prevents overheating from too many bulky items because us Brits tend to just pile on jumper after jumper!
2) Cover the extremities – heads and hands always need to be kept warm and covered to prevent frostbite and cracked skin which can be agony for a child
3) Keep feet warm and dry – shoes and boots need to be waterproof and preferably lined.
4) Keep them active – the layering concept, and the Tiny Trolls of Norway line of clothes I recommend, allow children to stay warm but still move around with ease. There are no bulky layers so kids have complete freedom of movement. And if they’re active they’re not allowing their body to be affected by the cold weather, they’re just enjoying it!
5) Care for their skin. I always put a cold cream on a child’s face as an extra protective layer against the elements. But make sure it isn’t a water-based product or the water can freeze on their skin. Weleda weather protection cream is a really great product.
Elaine’s recommended products:
1) The micro fleece from Tiny Trolls of Norway – this is so versatile, it can be used as layer 1 or 2 depending on how cold it is. It can also be worn on it’s own when just lounging around the home. The material is super soft and cosy for small children. There’s a great range of colours available too!
2) Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm – this is similar to Elizabeth Arden’s 8hour cream but for children. It can be used to treat dry spots and chapped skin lips or to prevent skin damage. It is suitable for babies and the whole family and it is free from preservatives, colourants etc.
3) A Tusseladden all-weather coverall can be used all year round as it’s totally breathable so good for the great British summertime when it may be a bit windy or rainy, but not too cold, and fantastic as an outer layer for cold winters when the mercury plummets! This all-in-one is comfortable and easy to put on and take off. The ones for under-3s even have a handy two-way zip for quick and easy nappy changes!
4) Weleda weather protection cream – this is a water free cream to protect babies and small children against wind and cold. It is natural product and great as an extra layer of protection for young skin.
5) A-Derma skin care cream – a moisturising cream for whole family. This can be used on the face and body and is great for wind-chapped skin. It absorbs easily into skin and is non- sticky. These products are based on oat milk which soothes and softens skin and are really soothing when applied after bathing.
Elaine Kobbeltvedt is a mother and grandmother with more than 25 years experience in childcare. She still runs the hugely successful Barnehage in Hamilton, Scotland, which takes inspiration from the Norwegian style of nursery – encouraging learning through outdoor play.