Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Importance of Warmth

goose photobomb

Oh hello Martin!

During one of our recent chicken watching chore times. L found a tree close to the edge of the woods around our land that he thought would be perfect for teaching baby F to climb. He saw how sad his baby brother would get every time he and sisters climbed high in our magnolia tree and was looking for a way to include him and make him feel special. Seeing my children look out for one another like that really warms my heart...even on a cold day like that one was.

That reminds me of the importance of warmth - something I haven't talked about in quite a while in this space. It may not have even been since C was a baby and I was constantly asked why she was always in a hat indoors or out. Rudolph Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education really shaped me into the mother that I am. I discovered him back when my oldest was six months old. I am so thankful for his invaluable wisdom. Knowing this, it is no wonder that I feel very strongly about keeping little ones warm. Steiner believed that one of the most important gifts we can give our children is to ensure they have sufficient warmth. Did you know that warmth is essential to our children's cognitive, emotional and physical development and of course their overall health? Let that sink in a minute.

"Children are developing their bodies especially during the first 7 years of their lives. An infant and a young child will always feel warm unless they are on the verge of hypothermia because they have an accelerated metabolic rate. If we don't provide them with the warmth they need to insulate their bodies, then they must use some of their potential "growth" energy to heat their bodies.

This same energy would be better utilized in further developing their brain, heart, liver, lungs etc. In addition, being cold decreases immunity. We are all more susceptible to the germs and viruses that are always around us when we are wet and cold. When our body has to expend extra energy to keep warm then less energy is available to "fight" off infections. So why do children rarely complain that they are cold? Children often are not connected with their body before the age of 7 to even acknowledge or communicate that they are cold. They live in the moment and are so excited and stimulated by all that they see that they don't have the capacity to sense the coldness of their body. This is why children often will play in a swimming pool or ocean until they are literally "blue" denying that they are cold or that they need to come out of the water. So as parents, we have to help our children develop their sense of warmth. By helping them develop this sense of warmth, we are actually strengthening their immunity and laying the foundation for a healthy body and healthy organs in their adult life." - The Waldorf Library

In fact, Children need assistance with protecting their physical warmth until the age of 10 or so. So how can we as parents help them develop their sense of warmth? For starters, cover their heads when they are outside. My children have always know this. If they want to go outside they must wear a hat. Most of our body heat escapes through the top of our heads. Another essential way to keep them warm (indoors and out) is layering, especially around their core. The type of fabric worn is also just as important. Natural fibers like wool, linen and silk should be used. They breathe and insulate keeping children warm but not sweaty, while synthetic fabrics encourage sweats and chills.Woolen long johns are the foundation for warmth, especially in the bitter cold of winter months. They are a temperature-regulating, breathable, quick-drying base layer. No other fabric feels as soft, wicks away moisture, helps regulate body temperature, and resists odor. My children have wool undershirts that they wear as their base layer at all times throughout the winter months - under their pajamas and daytime clothes. My youngest even wears them year round.

Now I know some of you might be saying, "but my child just won't wear wool!" and boy do I hear you! Two out of my four children are very sensitive to wool. Even the wool/silk blend long johns were deemed "scratchy" by them. A warmth obsessed mama's worst nightmare! But hear me out - I have hope for you! I have tried a few different companies and wool varieties to find the solution to the scratchy problem even going as far as putting the woolens on them without telling them what they were made out of. They still knew every time and would want them off. The most tolerable for them was the 50/50 wool silk blend but even that still wasn't comfortable enough for them to wear without me constantly reminding them. I recently found a new to me brand of woolens that even my most wool fearing child loves to wear. I won't mention any names but he just might be wearing the red woolens in the photos above. *ahem* Chasing Windmills Merino wool is made with ultra-fine merino fiber and it is really soft. Super soft. Really super soft. 😊 So soft that the aforementioned boy will wear them at all times without even being asked. That is a HUGE win in my books.

Suffice to say you can get even the most fussy child sufficiently warm. By our understanding of the importance of warmth we can help our children develop a capacity for warmth to carry them through their life.

*My boys are wearing their chasing windmills woolen long johns in the photos above and mama knit wool hats (Baby F in the Oscar Pixie hat and L in the baa-ble hat).

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