child playing with leaves in the autumn

Why Kids Should Play Outside Even When It’s Cold (and 6 simple ideas to entice kids outdoors!)

If you’re a parent, you can probably relate to the struggle of getting your children to spend time playing outside (like you did when you were growing up).

We live in an age where it seems we can’t convince our kids to get outside for even a few minutes each day. It becomes even more of a challenge during the autumn and winter months when the air starts to become a bit chilly and then downright cold. As a parent myself, I can assure you that the struggle to get your kids outside is real and you’re not alone!

But there’s two things I want you to know:

  1. It’s very important for your children’s mental and physical health for them to spend time outside (and yes, that includes when it’s cold), and;
  2. There are plenty of good ideas at your disposal that should help your kids think twice about spending so much time inside.
boy and girl on swing in winter with warm clothes

Why Your Kids Need To Get Outside…Even When It’s Cold Out

Just because it’s cold out is no excuse for us to not spend time outside. After all, that’s why we have warm clothing!


Perhaps the biggest reason why it’s important for our children to spend time outside is for the one thing that they don’t get enough of these days: physical exercise. There’s no better way to get physical exercise than outside, where kids can go for walks, ride sleds down hills, have snowball fights, ride their bikes, or play sports with their friends.

Vitamin D

Another reason why it’s wise to have your kids spend time outside is for them to get enough exposure to Vitamin D. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital, Vitamin D is vital for children developing their bone and muscle health because it assists the body in absorbing phosphate and calcium, both of which are necessary for developing strong bones.

Immune System

Having your children spend more time outdoors is one of the best ways to boost their immune system. The more time you spend outside, the more exposed you are to bacteria from dirt, plants, animals, outdoor equipment, and the like. That’s why children who grow up on farms and spend a lot of their time outdoors, for instance, often have a healthier immune system than kids who grow up in cities.


Children who spend time outside are more likely to develop better problem-solving skills than kids who don’t. For example, a child who plays hide and seek outside is going to have to come up with more creative ways to hide than a child who only plays it inside.

A 2015 Danish study conducted by researchers from the Alexandra Institute and University of Copenhagen found that there is a direct correlation between human creativity and spending time in natural environments.

An Appreciation for the Outdoors

Perhaps the biggest reason why children are more resistant to spending time outside these days is because they fundamentally don’t appreciate it. The more they do spend time outside, however, the more they’ll start to get used to it and then start to enjoy it.  I found this to gradually be the case with my own children.

There’s no question that it’s good for your kids to spend a lot of time outside. But if your kids are currently proving to be a bit resistant to the idea of spending time outdoors in the colder weather, there are some ‘tricks’ you have up your sleeve to entice them…

6 Fun Ideas To Entice Your Children To Get Outdoors

Here are six of the most fun ideas that should encourage your children to get outside:

1 - Short Fun Play Bursts

Since it’s cold outside, it’s understandable if your kids don’t want to spend as much time outside during the winter as they do during the summer. That’s why you can focus on short 30-45 minute play bursts instead of more extended play periods.

2 - Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts can be motivating games for children because they create a reward at the end that they have to work for. This can help keep them engaged even if it’s cold out. 

3 - Set Up Fun Outdoor Equipment

I’m referring to equipment like trampolines, cubby houses, slides, swing sets, playhouses, and so on. So long as your children dress warmly they should have fun spending an afternoon or an evening after school playing on this kind of equipment outside.

Don't forget about the humble sandpit! Sandpits are ever popular (my 12 year old still enjoys playing in the sandpit with his 8 year old brother!).

And if you kids like to get muddy then making or buying an outdoor mud kitchen can be a great investment. 

4 - Warm Up Water For Water Play

The summer isn’t the only time for water play. You can warm up water in a pool for them to play in while they’re outside, or otherwise you could invest in an inflatable water slide that can provide hours of fun and laughter! 

Sand and water activity tables provide a great sensory play activity which is great for younger kids (because they are having fun and learning at the same time!). 

5 - Practice Building A Fire

Knowing how to build an emergency fire is one of the most important life skills to learn. You can teach your children how to safely and effectively get a fire going when it’s cold, windy, or raining outside using fire starting materials such as magnesium flint striker, matches, or a lighter. At The Best Backyard we sell a range of portable and fixed fire pits which make setting up a fire quick, easy and mess free! 

6 - Planting A Garden

Another good life skill is knowing how to garden and plant crops. You can demonstrate to your kids proper gardening techniques and teach them about which plants are hardier during the winter months.


There’s no reason not to get your kids outside just because it’s a little cold! It’s very important for their physical and mental development, and there are fun ways you can incentivise them to get outside while teaching them a handful of valuable life skills in the process.

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