Helping Toddlers Through Winter

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January 14, 2022
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Helping Toddlers Through Winter

Toddlers in Winter
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Doldrums, Dark Skies, and Stormy Weather

As adults, we’re used to the challenges of winter, but the snowstorms, grey days, runny noses, and schedule disruptions common to frosty weather can be tough on kids.

Summer presents simpler, predictable schedules, more comfortable weather, and the opportunity to enjoy sunshine and carefree outdoor activity.

When the temperature drops, you may find your baby’s sleep schedule disrupted, as sleep is tied to the hormone melatonin (released as the sun goes down) and body temperature (babies sleep more in cooler temperatures). That may sound great, until your child’s wake up time becomes 4 am.

Adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Early darkness and being stuck inside can take its toll on toddlers too. Children with learning disabilities and sensory processing issues are often highly sensitive to changes in weather and breaks in routine.

Keeping Kids Comfortable

A good place to start in keeping spirits up is keeping comfortable. In cold weather, skin gets dry and itchy, our noses aren’t as sensitive to smell, and we can feel isolated when we’re not around others as much as we’re used to. Children experience these things too.

When the weather outside is frightful, you can help chase away the blues for babies and toddlers in a variety of ways with both passive and active approaches.

Consider diffusing some simple essential oils to help bring pleasant scents back to life, like lavender, cedar wood, or sweet orange. Find a gentle moisturizer to keep you child’s skin from drying and cracking.  For children, ointments are better than creams and lotions because their young skin is low in natural oils. Check with your pediatrician for the best choice.

Make sure your children’s winter gear is up to the task. From gloves and earmuffs to scarves and coats. Make sure being outside is an adventure, not an exercise in discomfort.

Plan to spend a little more time with your toddler, reading, playing games, and experiencing the winter wonders outside when the sky is clear and the snow is bright. A little extra together time is recommended on those days when winter isolates us from our social circles.

Keeping Kids Active and Engaged

Activity tends to brighten spirits for us all. When it’s winter and you want to keep your kids engaged, what can you do? The answers don’t have to be complicated.

  • Play with snow (do it inside in a sink or tub with younger or special needs children)
  • Engage your toddlers in helping bake cookies (putting chocolate chips in the mix)
  • Make winter sensory bags using marshmallows, glitter, tapioca beads, and food coloring
  • Make snow candy with snow (or shaved ice) and maple syrup
  • Create a DIY bird feeder using bird seed and some gelatin. Hang it near a window for continued winter excitement.

For more ideas and information, we found an article on 30 Boredom-Busting Winter Activities for Toddlers.

At TEIS, Early Intervention, we have a series of videos on children’s activities that can also be helpful, ranging from the dinosaur dance and yoga with kids to laundry basket play.

Early Intervention Therapies

For some children, developmental delays or disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can make every day activities and socialization difficult. At TEIS Early Intervention, our therapists listen to your concerns, assess your child’s individual needs, develop a customized treatment plan, and educate you along the way on simple solutions to maximize your child’s development that incorporate his or her natural environment and routines.

Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services are available under the Federal Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities.  Before services can be provided, an independent evaluation of your child must be completed. To assure impartiality, one agency offers evaluation services while another provides the therapeutic services

To learn more, call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or visit our Contact Us page to get help today.

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