With winter weather crashing in on us here in Southwest Michigan, here are a few tips to keep your little ones safe and warm.

Winter weather seemed to sneak up on this year. In fact, I have yet to pull my mittens and scarfs outta the back of the closet, but I need to tackle that project sooner rather then later. This time of year, it is important to prepare yourself and your kids for the harsh weather we all enjoy playing in. Parents magazine had some wonderful tips, that we do not want to avoid!

1. Layer Up...

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing young children in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Start with a thin inner layer to wick moisture away from the skin. Avoid cotton, which soaks up sweat and holds it against the skin, accelerating heat loss; try a lightweight polyester or polypropylene fabric instead. Add two insulating middle layers (maybe a long-sleeved top and leggings) of similar materials, keeping them a little loose to trap insulating air between fibers. Top it all off with a wind- and waterproof outer shell.

2. Protect Little Hands...

It's easy for fingers and toes to grow downright icy as your little one's body strains to conserve energy for his core, giving extremities the shivery shaft. Mittens will keep hands toastier than gloves, and they can still effectively scoop snowballs and build forts.

3. Dress to Be Noticed...

Be sure your kids are clad in bright colors and/or reflective materials before they head out in the snow: Research out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found pedestrians are three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the weeks after the fall time change, as drivers and walkers struggle to adapt to the changing light. Similarly, slippery roads and glaring snow or midwinter gloom can cause driving problems too.

4. Protect Their Skin...

Just because you've packed their swim trunks away doesn't mean kids are safe from sun damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, snow reflects 80 percent of UV rays. When those rays hit exposed, unprotected skin, they can cause a bad burn. Worsening matters, UV radiation exposure increases along with altitudes, making sunblock even more of a must for pint-sized skiers and snowboarders.

5. Wet Their Appetites...

It's extra hard for kids—and adults—to gauge their hydration needs in the winter months. In fact, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that cold temperatures actually alter thirst sensation. We lose an appreciable amount of water while breathing outdoors in the chilly air, drying us out even more.

Of course making sure your child has a helmet that fits properly is also important, but that safety feature is a year round thing.

Have a fun safe winter!

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