When is it Too Hot or Too Cold for Outside Play?

In all daycare businesses, adequate playtime is essential for the children, including time spent outside when the weather permits. As a daycare owner, it is important to understand when you can allow the children in your care to play outside and when the weather is too extreme for outside play. We have included everything you need to know about the weather for outdoor play, including charts that make it simple to understand.

Appropriate temperatures for outside play for a daycare will vary depending on the age of the children. Younger children will be more sensitive to weather and older children will be able to play outside in a wider range of temperatures. However, no children should spend time outside in temperatures lower than 30 degrees or higher than 95 degrees.

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Outside Play Time for Infants and Toddlers

Since infants and toddlers are much younger, this age range will be a lot more sensitive to extreme temperatures. All daycare facilities need to be extra cautious when infants and toddlers are spending time outside. It may not seem too hot or cold to you, but very young children will experience the weather in a different way than adults.

Especially during the infant and toddler ages, we recommend aiming for spending outdoor time in shaded areas. This will help the children stay cool when temperatures are increasing. If there are no shaded areas available at your daycare facility, you will need to really limit the time outside for infants and toddlers.

Staying hydrated will help infants and toddlers handle temperatures and keep a regular body temperature when they are outside playing. We also recommend keeping plenty of snacks available to keep up the energy levels for the children.

Most of the time, this age range will need to spend the least amount of time outside. Spending too long outdoors can be harmful to infants and toddlers. During this age, the children will need more time for rest (and naps throughout the day).

For this age range, you will need to get them prepared clothing-wise to spend time outside. They will not be able to put on all of their cold-weather apparel by themselves (even toddlers may struggle). We recommend checking with each child before they go outside to ensure that all the apparel is on that may be needed (depending on the temperature).

Although you might not expect infants to spend time outside, it can be beneficial to allow the youngest children in your daycare time in the outdoors. Sunshine can be good for their bodies. Time outside can help them develop and learn at a quicker pace as well. You can spend limited time outdoors with infants by bringing blocks outside to play with or introducing infants to new sounds and smells.

Outside Play Time for Preschool Children

For preschool-aged children, they will be able to spend time outside in weather that is slightly colder or hotter than infants and toddlers. Although preschool-aged children won’t be as sensitive as infants and toddlers, you still want to be cautious when allowing preschool-aged children to play outside.

During the preschool age, these children will often forget to stay hydrated while they are outside playing and having fun. We recommend regularly reminding them to take a break from playing to get a drink of water or a sports drink. Drinks that contain too much sugar can be especially harmful when the temperatures are hot, increasing the chances of children getting dehydrated while being outside.

At this age, preschool children are often also very adventurous during their playtime. Therefore, it is essential to keep a very close eye on the children while they are playing. Preschool children will be the most likely to take too big of risks on play equipment. They are also more likely to take bigger jumps or leaps when playing. By keeping a close eye on all the children, you can prevent injuries from occurring.

Preschool-aged children will be able to put on their cold-weather apparel on their own, unlike infants and toddlers. However, we still recommend checking on each child before they go outside, to make sure they put on all the clothing they will need. Without proper protection, colder temperatures can be extra harmful to the children. Plus, sickness will be more likely to be spread throughout the daycare.

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Outside Play Time for School-Aged Children

Since school-aged children are older, they will be able to spend time outside in the widest range of temperatures. Once children have reached school age (approximately 5 or 6 years old and older), their bodies are more developed and can handle certain weather more. School-aged children are not as sensitive as infants, toddlers, and preschool children.

With school-aged children, we still recommend reminding them regularly to take breaks to get a drink while playing outdoors. This age will be more likely to remember on their own. However, if they are having fun playing a particular game or activity, they can forget to take breaks. Without breaks, all children can easily get dehydrated and exhausted. Breaks are even vital in cold weather as well.

School-aged children will be able to spend the most amount of time outside without needing to rest or go inside for breaks. Their bodies are the most capable of handling outdoor play in fair weather (compared to infants, toddlers and preschool children). Although they can spend more time outside, we still recommend limiting outdoor time to hour increments.

Like preschool children, you will also need to remind school-aged children to put on the appropriate clothing to go outside. These ages can get dressed or prepared on their own, but you still need to make sure no one forgets to put on a jacket if the weather is a little on the chilly side. Some children will forget out of excitement for going outside.

Other Advice for Extreme Weather

Even when the weather is too extreme for children to play outside, there are still some guidelines you need to follow for extreme weather to keep all of your children safe when they are around your facility. This goes for whether it is extremely hot or cold outside.

When weather is extremely cold or you are experiencing storms, we recommend regularly monitoring your sidewalks for ice or any slippery areas. Even if the children are not playing outside, they can still slip and get injured as they are entering or leaving the daycare. If you live in an area with extreme winters, you should consistently have salt available, to prevent any staff members, children or parents slipping on ice.

Another recommendation for extremely cold weather is keeping track of all the cold weather apparel. In daycares that have a larger amount of children, it can be easy for gloves, hats, and jackets to get mixed up or go missing. Since it is essential for all the children to have their cold weather apparel when they leave for the day, we recommend creating a system to organize all of the cold weather apparel when the children arrive for the day. This will also make outdoor playtime more organized (if the weather isn’t too extreme for outdoor time).

During extremely hot temperatures, our first piece of advice is to ensure that all children are staying hydrated throughout the day. This is important even if they aren’t spending much time outside. When temperatures are high, our bodies will get dehydrated much easier. The amount of water we need during the summer largely increases. Children are even more sensitive to becoming dehydrated, which is why it’s important to monitor water intake.

Our second piece of advice for hot weather is not forgetting the sunscreen! Sunscreen is needed year-round, but it is especially important during the warmer months. When temperatures are over 100, children should not be playing outside. However, they will still be spending time outside in the sun when they leave your daycare (especially if the child only stays for half days). We recommend reapplying sunscreen before the children go home.

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Weather Guide for Outdoor Playtime

We understand that it can be a stressful task, making sure you know what temperatures are appropriate for outdoor play in your daycare. To help remove the stress from this task, we have created two charts that are simple and easy to understand. All degrees are in Fahrenheit.

The temperatures in red indicate weather that is too hot for children to play outside. No matter what the age, no children should spend time playing outdoors when temperatures reach this degree or higher/lower. It is unsafe for children to spend much time outside in this range.

The temperatures in the blue indicate the temperature that is nearing the extreme temperatures. This is the range that you need to be extra cautious when allowing children outside. Although most children can be outside in blue, any children that are extra sensitive to heat or cold should not be outside. Time should also be very limited.

The temperatures in green indicate weather that is safe for children to play outside, for all ages. When temperatures are near this degree, it is the ideal weather for children to spend time outside. We recommend taking advantage of these temperatures! Although this weather is ideal, please remember children still need to be closely monitored and need to regularly drink water or sports drinks to stay hydrated!

Cold Weather Chart

The number on the top of the chart refers to the wind speed (mph).
The number along the left side refers to the temperature (degrees Fahrenheit).

For example, if the outdoor temperature is 45º F and the wind speed is 10 mph, it feels more like 33º.

0 mph

5 mph

10 mph

15 mph

20 mph

25 mph

30 mph

































Hot Weather Chart

The number on the top of the chart refers to the humidity level.
The number along the left side refers to the temperature.

For example, if the outdoor temperature is 90º F and the humidity level is 80%, it feels more like 113º.








































Related Questions:

How much outdoor time should children get daily in a daycare?

All children need adequate time spent outside and playing when the weather permits. The amount of time needed outside will depend on the age of the child and the current weather situation. If the weather is hot or cold, time spent outside should be limited.

Older children will be able to spend more time outside. However, younger children (especially infants) will need more rest and should have limited time outside. All children benefit from time outside, no matter what the age is.

What type of play equipment do I need to purchase for my childcare business?

The type of play equipment you should purchase for your daycare will depend largely on your budget for your business. If your budget is lower, we recommend getting play equipment basics like sporting equipment (various balls or games to play).

If your budget allows, you can get more play equipment like slides, swings, monkey bars, or merry go rounds. Many daycares choose to get playground sets that have various play activities. By having adequate play equipment, children will get more exercise and also be able to spend more time outside.

What supplies will I need to purchase regularly for my daycare?

In every daycare, there will be certain supplies that you need to restock and purchase regularly as they run out. Those supplies include cleaning supplies, safety equipment, art supplies, meals for the children and learning material.

Other than the supplies that regularly run out, you will also need to restock your other supplies as they become worn out or broken. We also recommend regularly monitoring your other tools and supplies to ensure all of your toys and equipment is working properly. By having broken supplies around your daycare facility, you increase your chances of children getting hurt while under your care.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.

If you need some guidance on how to start your daycare business, why not start with our free ebook?

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