Child Care, Health and Wellness, Parenting

Keeping kids happy and healthy during the winter months

Canadian winters, although not without their charm, have a reputation of being long, dark, and cold. To help you and your children make the most of this winter season, we’ve put together a few reminders to consider.

Dressing your children in proper winter garments is crucial


There’s a reason that little kids are more susceptible to the cold: their small bodies lose heat a lot faster than ours do. While younger children who are playing outside tend to claim that they don’t feel the cold, the reality is that their small frames are in fact more susceptible to hypothermia given the fact that their not-yet-fully-developed-bodies are less able to regulate their internal temperatures than we are. This means that it is up to parents, guardians, and caregivers to ensure that little ones are bundled up properly so as to help protect them from the cold weather.

For more on this, check out Gabriele’s blog post on picking the winter clothing that’s best for your child.


Keeping your kids active in the winter is important, too


Teaching your children to stay active all throughout the year, no matter the weather or the season, is integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Getting out of the house together and keeping their minds and bodies active, is important both for physical and mental health. Nature walks, playing in the snow, public skating rinks, and indoor swimming pools are just some of the fun and inexpensive ways that your family can stay active this winter.

For more ideas, this guide from EatRightOntario is a great tool for keeping in shape this winter.


Shorter days could lead to the winter blues


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recurring type of depression that relates to changes in the seasons. Those who struggle with SAD in the wintertime usually experience symptoms as the weather gets colder and the daylight hours become shorter. When the days start to get longer again as spring returns, mood and energy levels tend to stabilize and there is relief from these symptoms.

According to KidsHealth, about 6 in every 100 people experience SAD. Symptoms in children include low energy, changes in appetite, changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, lack of enjoyment, changes in mood, and less time socializing with peers. If unrecognized, these symptoms can impact self-esteem, bringing on feelings of disappointment, isolation, and loneliness—especially if they don’t realize what’s causing the changes in mood, energy, academic success, and motivation.

Discuss these symptoms with your child’s doctor if you suspect that they may be struggling with SAD. A few ways that you can help your child overcome the winter blues include encouraging them to get plenty of exercise and to spend time outdoors, reinforcing good eating habits, helping them with their homework, and establishing a healthy sleeping schedule.

Select Toronto Public Library (TPL) branches also have light therapy lamps available to the public that may help. These lamps are “designed to mimic spring and summer light levels” as a way to alleviate symptoms of SAD.



Can you think of any more winter tips for parents that didn’t make our list? Comment below and let us know what you’re doing to keep your kids happy, healthy, and safe in the snow!

Molly Kay

Molly is a freelance journalist and third-year student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a degree in French & German language and literature. When not writing and coordinating social media for the Family Care Office, she spends her time editing Victoria College's student newspaper, The Strand.

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