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Too Cold to Play Outside? We don’t think so!
Too Cold to Play Outside? We don’t think so!

Too Cold to Play Outside? We don’t think so!

It’s getting cold outside and snow is covering the ground here in Boston.  Some days, going outside is the last thing you want to do.  It’s important to remember that kids enjoy the outdoors and need the fresh air.

When is it too cold to play outside?
Talk to your boss.  At what temperature do they feel uncomfortable having their children outside?  Don’t forget about the windchill for the safety of yourself and the children.  I personally spoke with my boss and she gave the best answer:  If it’s too cold for us, it’s probably too cold for them.  We decided, below 30 degrees is too cold to be frolicking in the snow.  Keep in mind that if it’s 28 degrees, there aren’t strong winds, and the sun is out you could make an effort to get outside for even just a short time.  Use your best judgement and guidelines you’ve set with your boss.

Leave Extra Time
Getting outside in the winter season requires extra time.  Children have so many more layers, zippers, and buttons.  It can be especially testing with multiples; waiting in their sweaty, stiff snowsuits while their sibling gets dressed is not the easiest for an antsy toddler.

  • While the children are engaged, set out all their outerwear on the floor.  Lay it out from head to toe so if they are beginning to participate in dressing themselves they can take a shot at it.

  • If you have multiples, try to dress them at the same time.  Put mittens on both of them before moving on to their boots.

  • If you have any play materials that you are bringing outside, have them ready by the door or an activity in mind so when you get outside you don’t waste any play time.

Offer New Experiences
Some days in the city you only have time for a walk because it is too cold to stay out longer than 15-30 minutes.  However, when you do have time to get out of the stroller, have planned activities to offer.  Be prepared for your child to choose their own activity and learn that if they are not interested in yours, you may just need to tailor it more to their interests next time.  Here are some ideas of what you can do outside in the winter.

  • Tummy time in the snow!  Get down on your belly with the infants.  Ask them, what does it feel and taste like.  Use descriptive words to help narrate for nonverbal children.

  • Make snow castles with buckets and shovels from the beach.

  • Turn your nature walk into a game of I spy; use lots of descriptive words.

  • What happens to bubbles in the cold temperatures?  Explore science with children.

  • Paint the snow with mobile children. Make sure it’s safe for the environment.  You can use colored juice or food coloring in spray bottles.

  • Draw, or with older children, write in the snow with long sticks.  Use the nature around you to create!

  • Don’t just build snowmen – construct snow forts and snow slides.

What outdoor activities can you offer inside?
When it is too cold to go outside, you can bring winter inside!

  • For infants, bring snow inside on a cookie sheet that has a lip.  For toddlers and school age children, bring snow inside, contained within a kiddy pool.  Add buckets, shovels, cars, and plastic animals.

  • What does cold feel like?  Icicles can be sharp, but you can still offer ice in a deep tub.  Does it melt faster in your hand?  What does the ice turn in to?

  • Bring snow inside and put it in three different containers.  Offer color tinted water (primary colors) in small containers with droppers.  Children can learn science through play as they mix colors.

Do you play in the snow with your charges? Please share other unique winter activities that you have offered to children!
Kelsey Plimpton is currently a nanny in Boston and has been nannying for five years.  She started as a part-time nanny while earning her associates degree in Early Childhood Education.  Kelsey has worked with ages 2 months to 15 years in both nannying and babysitting positions, since the age of 13.  While working with children she follows their interests to help create activities targeting developmental goals. She blogs weekly with SitterCycle.com.


  1. Being outside is good. and today's a beautiful day in the sun.

  2. “We decided, below 30 degrees is too cold to be frolicking in the snow.” Wow! I live in Alaska; if we lived by this guideline, we’d be indoors most of seven months out of the year! Which is extremely unhealthy! With appropriate gear, even little ones can have a fantastic, safe time in colder temperatures than 30 degrees.

  3. Helen Adeyinka Adeosun

    Thank you so much Erika, it's funny how this great blog post has been relevant pretty much for the last month! We are getting a fresh coat tomorrow!

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