Playing outdoors (even in the cold) has numerous benefits for your child’s mental health, physical health (including your child’s immune system), and development1. But in the winter and transition months, parents may be concerned over their children catching a cold/flu by spending time outdoors in the cold, wind, and rain.
On the one hand, it is true that if your child is inadequately dressed, it is not good for them to go outside. But as long as your child is adequately dressed, there are numerous advantages to getting outside, including:
- Getting outdoors will expose your child to sunlight, which boosts their vitamin D levels levels2,3.
- Getting outdoors reduces the risk of transmitting viruses, because being indoors in winter months is actually worse for virus transmission such as:
- Being in closer contact with those who might be sick, and
- Being in dry, indoor environments4
In summary, ensure your children are adequately dressed, so that they can play outdoors, and thus reduce their chance of developing illnesses such as colds.
- Brussoni, M. et al. What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2015) doi:10.3390/ijerph120606423.
- Roussel, M., Pontier, D., Cohen, J. M., Lina, B. & Fouchet, D. Quantifying the role of weather on seasonal influenza. BMC Public Health (2016) doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3114-x.
- Martineau, A. R. et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ (2017) doi:10.1136/bmj.i6583.
- Willem, L., van Kerckhove, K., Chao, D. L., Hens, N. & Beutels, P. A Nice Day for an Infection? Weather Conditions and Social Contact Patterns Relevant to Influenza Transmission. PLoS One (2012) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048695.