Hailstones begin their life in a thunderstorm cloud as a tiny droplet of water. But life in a thundercloud can get pretty chaotic when cold and warm air currents collide. It is these air currents, and the difference in air temperature, that causes hailstones to form.
When the water droplet lands in a warm air current it is lifted upward, much like soap bubbles in the breeze. The air current takes the water droplet high into the cloud where temperatures are below freezing. The droplet freezes into a tiny ball of ice.
When the hailstone freezes it may be caught by a cold downdraft of air that pulls it downward rapidly. As it falls to lower levels where the temperatures are warmer, it begins to melt. Normally, the hailstone melts completely and falls to the ground as rain. But, sometimes, the hailstone is caught up in another warm current that carries it upward to freezing temperatures. When this happens the hailstone forms another layer of ice.
A Vicious Cycle
If the hailstone is repeatedly carried upward and then falls and begins to melt, the hailstone grows larger each time it freezes. Eventually, it gets too heavy and falls to the earth. Because the stone is so big, it does not have time to melt before it reaches the ground.
Assess the weather to determine whether it’s prudent to take your baby outdoors for a short period of time. Winds should not be more than 15 miles per hour and the temperature should not be lower than 13 degrees Fahrenheit, including wind chill, according to weather guidelines published by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Apply a light layer of sunscreen to your baby’s face about 30 minutes before you intend to go outdoors to protect him from sunburn, advises the Kaiser Kids Sun Care Program, published by Kaiser Permanente. The sun can reflect off the snow during the winter, resulting in sunburn.
Dress your baby in several layers to prepare for the outdoor excursion. For example, an undershirt and leggings; long-sleeved shirt and pants; a fleece jacket; and a snowsuit might be an effective layer combination to keep your baby warm outside. Place warm socks on your baby’s feet, also. Dress your baby in one additional layer than you would wear to go outside in the snow, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Cover your baby’s hands with warm mittens. Ideally, the snowsuit will cover your baby’s feet. Place a warm hat on your baby’s head.
Bundle yourself appropriately to venture outdoors.
Step outdoors with your baby. Monitor your baby while you’re outside with him to make sure he doesn’t become uncomfortable. If your baby begins to fuss or cry outdoors, assume it’s because he’s uncomfortable or cold and take him back indoors.
Stay outdoors for a short period -- not longer than about 30 minutes, as long as your baby remains happy and comfortable. Outdoor time should not exceed 30 minutes when temperatures range between 16 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Connecticut State Department of Education.
Provide your baby with a drink of water or feed him formula or breast milk if he’s hungry after returning indoors. Fluids can help your little one feel more comfortable after being outdoors.
Things You Will Need
- Outdoor clothing
Children under age 2 are most susceptible to hypothermia from extreme cold. Never remain outdoors if your baby is shivering, seems disoriented or becomes drowsy, warns the National Weather Service. If these symptoms occur, go indoors and consult your physician immediately.
For younger babies, blow bubbles and let them watch as the bubbles float by. Let older babies reach out and pop the bubbles. Take a touching tour. Carry your baby around the yard, neighborhood or park and let him touch grass, sand, leaves, tree bark, fences, flowers, snow, icicles and rain puddles. Set up a small wading pool and sit in it with your baby. Let a younger baby splash around and show an older one how to dump and scoop the water with small plastic containers. Lie on a blanket and watch clouds go by or leaves move in the wind. Go to a pond and watch the ducks swim or sit in the backyard and watch the squirrels or birds move. Talk about what you are seeing and doing while you're outside.
How Much Outdoor Time
You don't have to spend all day outside for your infant to benefit, though you might want to during warmer months. Watch your baby for cues that he is done or is game to keep going. If he turns his head away or gets fussy, he might be overwhelmed and want to be done or move to another outdoor activity. If it's really cold outside, limit your time to five to 10 minutes. If your baby looks tired or is falling asleep or seems hungry, call it quits and head indoors for a snack or a nap.
Going outside to engage your infant offers plenty of benefits. Touching and seeing nature helps build fine motor development and the differences between objects, including texture, weight, size, color and dimensions. For older babies who move around a bit more, playing outside can help build muscle strength as they crawl through the grass or kick their legs in the wading pool. Being outdoors also builds creativity and imagination as your infant gets older.
As with any other type of play, doing so outside poses some risks. Keep babies under 6 months of age in the shade, but apply plenty of sunscreen to older babies if you'll be out in the sunshine. Dress your little one appropriately for the weather. Bundle her into a coat, hat and mittens if it's cold, but stick to short sleeves and lightweight fabrics during warm weather. Stay close to your infant to ensure that bugs don't land on his delicate skin and to prevent him from putting objects into his mouth.
Quiet Time Activities
Kids might need to be quiet at certain times of the day, whether it's a baby sister sleeping, too early on a Saturday for the neighbors or just the time of day when the child needs a bit of a break. Children can play board games together or with another adult in the house. Ants in the Pants, Candy Land and Memory are classic games for young children. Several versions of each of these games can tempt any child. Children can work alone on craft projects. A toddler or young child can practice fine motor skills while painting, cutting and pasting. Older children might enjoy picking up a more "grown-up" craft such as woodworking, jewelry making or knitting.
While you might not want to disturb the neighbors, accepting some daytime noise is part of apartment living. Check with the neighbors about their schedules so that you can allow for some active play indoors. Turn on a CD to have a dance party. Young kids especially will enjoy having some control over music selection. Create an obstacle course using different furniture -- jump on the pillow, go around the chair three times, then under the table -- and mix it up once the kids have mastered the first course.
Children need to flex their imagination muscle as well as the physical ones. Encourage them to create plays using puppets, dolls or stuffed animals. To get younger children started, try reading a book, then have them perform the story you just read. Children might also enjoy going on pretend adventures, such as being pirates on a treasure hunt or astronauts going to distant planets. Simple household objects such as paper towel tubes, cardboard boxes and bed sheets aid this play.
Chores and Helping
According to HealthyChildren.org, the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, young children can get involved in work around the house. Though you might not have a yard to work in or an easily accessible garbage disposal location, children can help with meal preparation, folding laundry, doing the dishes and dusting. You're likely to find that your child even enjoys the activities you find so mundane.
Lightweight socks or booties will keep your baby's feet warm while you are out running errands during mild spring months. Your baby might need warm socks if you are taking a walk on a brisk morning or strapping him into a car seat. Dressing a newborn in a light-weight footed sleeper and bundling in a receiving blanket can usually provide enough warmth when you are at home.
If temperatures are higher than 75 degrees, your baby will not need layers of clothing, including warm socks. According to the KidsHealth website, barefoot is most beneficial for her developing feet, so forgo socks on hot summer days. Protect your baby's feet from sun with a canopy or umbrella.
Fall temperatures can vary significantly, so dressing a newborn in layers is generally your best bet. Consider swaddling your newborn in a receiving blanket after dressing her in an undershirt, diaper and dressing gown. A pair of lightweight socks might be needed on colder days, but the receiving blanket will generally provide enough warmth. If you take your newborn on a walk in a stroller, a pair of warm socks can be helpful on crisp fall days, particularly if your baby tends to kick off blankets.
You baby will likely need to wear warm socks during winter months. If it's cool enough to dress him in an undershirt, diaper, pants and shirt, warm socks are definitely needed. AskDrSears.com suggests using your baby's hands and feet to see if he is warm enough. If they are cold, add a warm layer of socks or bundle his body so his hands and feet are not exposed. Fleece footed sleepers are an alternative to socks for keeping your newborns feet warm in winter, and you can put socks over the feet of the pajamas for extra warmth if needed.
Babies are not as adept at regulating body temperature as adults are, so the clothes you dress him in are essential for his comfort and safety. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to dress a baby in several light layers of clothing. He should be wearing one more layer of clothing than you are. For example, this might be a pair of leggings and a long-sleeved, one-piece sleeper, a long-sleeved shirt and pair of pants, a sweatshirt, socks and an infant snowsuit. If you think he might need it, you can cover him with a blanket as well. It is important to note, though, that it is not safe for a baby to wear a snowsuit in the car seat, according to The Car Seat Lady. If you are traveling to the park by car, wait to put the snowsuit on.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing sunscreen when you are outside no matter what time of year it is. If your baby is older than 6 months, you can apply sunscreen to any parts of her skin that are exposed. If she is younger, reduce her exposure to the sun by using the sunshade on the stroller.
If you are covering your baby with a blanket, do not place it near his mouth. This could potentially make it difficult for him to breathe. Though you should not have to worry too much if you have dressed your baby well and do not spend too much time outside, it is possible for your baby to get hypothermia or frostbite from the cold. As you walk, check on him periodically to make sure that he looks warm and can breathe well.
A baby suffering from hypothermia may be shivering and may seem unusually lethargic. In a severe case, her body temperature may drop below normal. Frostbite, or its precursor, frostnip, generally occur on the extremities, such as the nose, cheeks, ears or fingers. At the frostnip stage, the skin will turn white, while frostbitten skin will turn grey and blister. Since your child will not be able to tell you of the numbness associated, take her to the doctor if you suspect frostbite.
Set the stage for snowy winter fun, no matter the season. If the real weather is warm, turn down your thermostat to create a chilly atmosphere. Place blankets in the living room to fend off the chill. Spray window with a can of artificial snow spray for an authentic frosty appeal. Spray an outline of a snowman with the snow spray on your child’s mirror before she wakes up for a charming morning surprise. Hang homemade paper snowflakes from the ceiling. Don't worry about the mess; you can clean it up tomorrow!
Create festive winter-themed meals. Eat snowflake tortillas for breakfast. Warm a large flour tortilla in the microwave and fold into fourths. Cut the edges with clean scissors to make a snowflake shape when open it, just like a paper snowflake. Fry the tortilla in a pan with oil or melted butter, just until golden. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar for a fresh snowfall effect. For lunch, cut sandwiches into snowman shapes with round cookie cutters.
Let chilly winter wonderland inspire you to get crafty! Print out pictures of winter landscapes and have your preschooler brush on a mixture of half glue and half water with a paintbrush. Sprinkle white glitter to look like snow. Create a snowman by gluing together various sizes of white pom poms. Use a permanent marker to make the eyes, nose, and buttons.
Have an indoor “snowball” fight. Crumple a couple dozen pieces of white paper into balls to be snowballs. Place a table on its side or a large cardboard box in the middle of your living room to act as a dividing line. Give your preschooler half the snowballs and have her stay on one side of dividing line. Take the other side of the room and let the snowballs fly!
Finish the day with a winter movie marathon. Curl up on the couch with your preschooler and mugs of hot chocolate to watch movies like Happy Feet or The Polar Express. Spend the last few minutes of the day soaking up this magic moment.
Things You Will Need
- Artificial snow spray
- Oil or butter
- Powdered sugar
- Cookie cutters
- Printed winter pictures
- White glitter
- White pom poms
- Permanent marker
- Hot chocolate