Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Importance of Warmth by Belinda Kenwood

The Importance of Warmth
By Miss Belinda, October 24th 2015

Greetings, Dear Parents ~

The cool weather months are descending upon us and a key “ingredient” for a child who feels comfortable and free to explore in nature as well as participate in all outdoor activities (including discovering the play possibilities of wind, snow, mud and puddles) is warm, sturdy, protective clothing.   

We all know that if children are to grow into happy, healthy individuals, it is essential to wrap them in the warmth of our love.  For the young child, physical warmth is just as important.  Children are developing their physical bodies during the first seven years of their lives and at the same time, they have not yet fully developed their sense of warmth and may not realize when they are cold.  When this happens, energy that should be going to build healthy organs is, instead, expended in heating the body.  A baby or toddler that is not dressed warmly enough can become restless, experience cramps, or cry a lot.  Simply dressing them more warmly can change their behavior and level of contentment dramatically.   Small children have a thin skin and they spend time on the floor inside and on the ground outside.  If you’ve ever sat on a hardwood or tile floor, you may have noticed how cold it is.  A first step for parents and caregivers is to realize that it is important to dress a small child warmly enough. 

Because children under the age of 7-years do not yet know if they are too cold (or too warm) they typically will not or cannot articulate their discomfort but may, instead, misbehave or, as mentioned above, cry.  If children are dressed warmly enough during the day as well as during the night, it is much easier for them to feel at home in their bodies.  Also - being cold can decrease immunity and make children more susceptible to germs and viruses.

How do you know if your young baby and/or child is dressed warmly enough?  Start by feeling his/her little, thin-skinned bodies.  Babies and young children need to have warm feet, warm legs, warm hands and arms.  Cold legs, cold feet, cold arms and hands are indications that the baby/young child needs extra clothing.  On the other hand, if a baby or young toddler’s neck and the area between his shoulders feels warm or a bit wet, take one layer off.

At LifeWays, our recommended rule of thumb when the outdoor temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is 3-layers above the belt and 2-layers below. With this in mind, we ask that you have available to your child each day of attendance the following Essential Items:

v  Base layer for above and below the belt - long johns top and bottoms/long underwear top and bottoms.  Thick tights or leggings can also be worn as a base layer below the belt.
-          The base layer is important, because it prevents valuable heat from escaping the core as well as wicks away moisture.  Natural fibers such as wool/wool blends and silk/silk wool blends are excellent fibers for base layers because they are breathable and can absorb a lot of humidity without feeling damp. Cotton does not work well as a base layer, because it acts like a sponge instead of wicking away hypothermia-inducing moisture.  *We also recommend the wearing of undershirts/camisole tops as a base layer under shirts/tops/dresses during all but the warm days of summer.
Middle layer – cotton/cotton blend long sleeved turtlenecks, henleys, and other types of shirts.
Third layer – wool/wool blend sweaters or vests, cotton, flannel shirts, or vests/light jackets made of synthetic blends (fleece, etc.)

Outside layer:
v  Snow pants or Snow suit
v  Warm Jacket
v  Warm, waterproof, well-fitting mittens *gloves do not work well for children under the ages of 6 or 7.  They are very challenging to put on.  When the fingers and thumbs are tucked cozily together in a mitten, it provides more warmth.
v  Warm hat that fits well and covers the ears. 
*Regarding babies and toddlers – their heads are larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies than those of older children.  The small soft spot in the middle of a baby’s skull, the fontanel, is still open, and the head is also often still nearly bare.  Therefore, a baby’s head radiates a great deal of warmth.  Wearing a hat both indoors as well as outdoors made from wool/wool blends, silk/silk blends or cotton/cotton blends can help babies more easily maintain their body temperature.  For a newborn, these types of hats/caps are a necessity. 
v  Neck warmer/gator/scarf to cover and protect the vulnerable chest/neck area
v  Insulated, well-fitting boots

Last thoughts:

v  During the seasonal transitions from spring into summer and summer into the cooler temps of fall, temperatures are unpredictable and can fluctuate greatly throughout the week or even throughout a single day, especially being located, as we are, close to Lake Michigan.  More often than not, the high temperatures for the day are not reached until 3:00/4:00pm or later.  It’s important that the children have the proper clothes and foot wear on hand and available to them in order to accommodate any changes in the weather.

v  Regarding clothing in general – At LifeWays, our motto is function over fashion.  Please dress your child in clothing that is comfortable, uncomplicated and easy for them to manage in the bathroom as well as during dressing for outdoor play and undressing when coming back indoors – a great confidence booster.  Tight fitting jeans as well as pants or shirts with hooks, buttons or snaps are very challenging to manage for the 4-years and under group. 

v  Label, Label, Label – It is so incredibly helpful to us when the children’s articles of clothing are labeled.  It does not guarantee that clothes will not go missing or accidently go home with another family, however, it sure is a whole lot easier to find them when they do.

Thank you for working with us to help develop your child’s sense of warmth, thus strengthening their immunity and laying the foundation for healthy bodies and healthy organs in their adult life.  Please do ask us if you have any questions or need suggestions or recommendations of where to find clothing items.

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