Eventually, most kids learn to love snow. But for some babies and toddlers, cold temperatures and snowy conditions take some getting used to. Parents of young children are always excited to introduce their kiddos to a first snowfall or a winter hike, but quickly feel disappointment when the experience turns from winter wonderland to tantrums and tears.

kids playing in snow

It may take some time for them to fully embrace winter, but here are some tips to help your child adjust to the snow and cold.

1. Adjust Your Indoor Space

Start by adjusting indoors. Turn down the thermostat (it’s more economical and better for the environment anyway) and avoid bundling up in layers or blankets too long before heading out. This will help limit the shock of going from warm and cozy to freezing cold.

2. Start Inside

How would you feel if you went from frolicking around the house half-naked to being stuffed into a bulky sack that restricts every ounce of movement? That’s how horror movies start. Instead, slowly introduce your kiddos to their outdoor gear inside. Put on one mitten and show them how to grip a toy. Put on their snowsuit (turn down the thermostat first, see tip #1) and let them roll around. Let them wear their clean winter boots around the house. Lastly, bring the snow inside. Fill a bucket or sensory bin or throw some snow in the bathtub and let your kids explore.

3. Distraction

This is a key parenting skill in general, but the art of distraction may stop your child from thinking about the cold and their restricted movement altogether. Try a few outdoor toys that are easy to handle – sand toys, bath toys, and toy vehicles work great in the snow, fill squeeze bottles with water and food coloring and paint the snow, or make footprints and handprints together. Check out this blog for additional snow play ideas.

child playing in the snow

4. Build Up the Outdoor Time

Set the bar low, like really, really low. You may have your heart set on a multiple hour magical hike through a snow-kissed forest, but let’s get real. Unless you gave birth to Elsa (that’s a Frozen reference for anyone that hasn’t watched the movie 100 times), start with 10-15 minutes outside and stick close to home. And if that goes well, add a few more minutes. And if that goes well, then you can think about packing all your gear into a car and driving somewhere… like maybe the park, down the street.

5. Go Outside With a Group

Your child will have friends to play with to keep their mind off of the cold and their awkward snow gear, and you’ll have other parents that totally understand, and may be able to offer further advice or at least a shoulder to cry on. Find an upcoming Hike it Baby hike near you and get out there this winter.

Do you have a tip or tactic you used to adjust your child to the cold and snow? Share it in the comments below!

Winter is better with friends. Join a community of like-minded parents with the mission of connecting their children with nature, no matter the weather. Learn more about Hike it Baby membership.


About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Deanna Curry and Krystal Weir.

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