Not sure how to dress your toddler for the winter cold? Try these clothes-shopping tips to scout out the right kids' clothing — whether it's freezing or breezing outside.
The secret to getting out and about with the family when it’s colder is to make sure your kids (and you) are warm and dry.
That means whether it’s below zero or scorching hot, your little one will likely want to be outside burning off steam. While that’s a great thing for nap time, it also means you need to take extra care to protect her against the elements. This guide can ensure that your toddler is dressed properly no matter what the weather conditions are.
In the UK we do like to moan about the weather. However, generally we have it easy: summer doesn’t get too hot, and winter doesn’t get too cold.
I know when I’ve had Canadian friends over, they laugh at the little snow fall we have, even though everything stops. But you don’t need to go to Canada. Just pop over to Sweden for example, and you’ll see lots of kids happily going to school in much colder weather than over here.
“But they’re used to it” you might be thinking. True, they are used to it. They are used to being prepared. And they know what to do.
Unfortunately in the UK, at the end of the summer school holidays, we are bombarded in the high street with ‘Back to school’ coats. This is in September when it is still warm. “Ah, that’s a nice thick coat. That’ll keep Johnny warm this winter term.”. Unfortunately that’s not always going to be the case.
There’s a right way to dress for colder weather, and it’s very simple.
Lay on light layers.
The layers underneath your toddler’s outerwear trap in warmth. Opt for all-cotton shirts, which will feel best against your child’s still-sensitive skin. Steer clear of bulky sweaters, which will make her too hot and prevent her from moving around easily. Make sure socks aren’t so thick that your toddler's snow boots don’t fit comfortably over them.
Find a snowsuit that suits your toddler
Choose a wind- and water-resistant outer shell — nylon is ideal — and a chill-chasing material on the inside, such as down or Polartec. The zipper should run all the way down to the knee or ankle to make taking it off easier — especially when it’s time for a diaper change or potty break. And check that cuffs fit tightly around ankles and wrists to prevent the cold (or snow) from creeping in. Elastic works, but Velcro tabs that let you adjust for a not-too-loose, not-too-tight fit are even better.
If you’ve ever tried to put a glove on a toddler’s hand so every finger's in the right place, you know it’s about as easy as putting a diaper on a goldfish. Stick with mittens, which are easier to slip on and are warmer because they keep fingers (and the heat they produce) close together. As with snowsuits, mittens should have a warm inner lining and a weather-resistant shell. And if the mitts don’t come with short strings attached, consider purchasing clips to attach them to the sleeves of your toddler’s snowsuit. (Tip: Slip on mittens before you put your child’s snowsuit on; that way the cuffs will help keep the mittens in place.)
A warm hat is tops.
A huge percentage of body heat is lost through the head, so a hat is a vital item in a tot’s winter-weather wardrobe. (This is especially true if your sweetie has yet to sprout a full head of hair.) Even if her snowsuit has a hood, a close-fitting hat is a better head-heating bet (you can always pull the hood over the hat). A cotton or soft-wool knitted cap with ear flaps is best, and even better if it fastens under the chin.
Choose safe and easy clothing features.
Snaps and zippers are really good choices for toddlers, who will likely need constant wardrobe adjustments. If your little one isn’t potty-trained, this also makes diaper changes easier. Also avoid ribbons and strings that might unravel or possibly be a choking hazard, especially on loose-fitting hoods.
Your child may be going to school, or your child may be walking through the sudden snowfall to visit their grandma to make sure they are alright and help clear their path….. So put normal clothes over the base layers.
If it is wet or there’s snow, avoid heavy cotton like jeans.
When jeans get wet they are very slow to dry out. Wet clothes can cool the body down. Wet jeans can and has often caused hypothermia in the unprepared.
Signs It's Too Cold for Your Toddler
In the extreme cold, if your toddler seems clumsy or unresponsive and has a temperature that has dropped below normal levels, this may be a sign of hypothermia. In severe cases, shivering may stop and consciousness may decline. This is a medical emergency, so call 911 right away.
Young children are also very susceptible to frostbite on their fingers, toes, nose, ears and cheeks. The skin may turn white or pale gray and in more severe cases feel waxy or hard. If you notice any of these signs, open your coat and immediately start warming your little one on your body.
Mid layers are anything between the base layers and the outer layers. Normal clothes can be considered part of the mid-layers, but generally we’re talking about things such as a fleece, which provide an additional layer of insulation.
Micro-fleeces are a very good mid-layer. They are a lot less bulky than a fleece jacket, can look like a normal pullover, but have very good insulation properties.
This is where your coat comes in. Choose one appropriate.
If it’s just wet but not too cold, a thinner rain coat would be more comfortable to wear than a thick winter coat.
Don’t forget about the trousers, especially for kids. Get some waterproof trousers for when it is wet or there’s snow (kids always get covered in snow!) so that the layers below stay dry.
Outer trousers also keep the cold wind at bay, and if they’re lined, provide an additional layer of insulation.
Hats & Gloves
A hat is very important in keeping your kids warm.
We recommend that you get one that can cover their ears, which get cold rather quickly on kids.
Gloves are also important. If it’s wet or there’s snow, make sure they have waterproof gloves.
Mitts are a lot warmer than gloves (as the fingers can warm each other), but kids can find it difficult to play in them.
One of the many reasons why I love Thanksgiving is that, in my mind, it’s really the start of winter coziness.