Pediatricians recommend that children spend up to 60 minutes per day playing outside. Once the seasons change, Once the seasons change, parents are probably wondering “how long should children play outside in winter”. As part of our Pediatrician House Calls series, we’re going to help answer that question.
How Long Should Children Play Outside In Winter?
Playing outside is beneficial for everyone, including children. It allows us to get fresh air and exercise. During the warmer months, this is pretty easy. During the winter, the length of time your children spend outside largely depends on your specific climate. It also depends on the temperature. Generally, whenever it is at least 32 degrees F outside, it is safe for children to play outside in winter for their recommended 60 minutes per day. But there are exceptions.
What is the wind chill?
Whenever there is wind chill present, pediatricians recommend that you take this into account before sending your child outside to play. If the temperature, including the wind chill, is at least 32 degrees F, it is safe.
If the temperature with wind chill is at least 15 degrees Fahrenheit but less than 32, it is safe for your child to play outside for limited stretches. A good rule of thumb is to let your child play outside for 20-30 minute stretches, followed by at least that amount of time inside for a break.
Once the temperature with wind chill is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, you should keep your children inside until it is warmer. The reason is because temperatures with wind chill that low very quickly cause frostbite.
What about school recess during the winter?
Schools are generally good about keeping kids inside on days when frostbite is a risk. But if ever there is a question about how cold it might be when your child goes out for recess, be prepared by sending your child to school dressed appropriately. Warm boots, hats, gloves and layers are all necessary on cold winter days.
It is always a good idea to let children play outside in winter. Fresh air and exercise does everyone good! But be aware of weather conditions, temperature changes and wind chill to help you make the best decision for your child.