Our Tips For Dressing Your Little Ones For Winter Play
Highlights of how to dress your child for cold weather.
- There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!
- The key to keeping your child warm and dry in the winter is layers.
- Layers include base, middle, and outerwear.
- Choose wool, silk, or synthetic materials over cotton.
- Ensure outdoor winter clothing fits properly.
- Buy second-hand and gender-neutral colors so you can pass it down.
At Littlemore, we believe there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! And as Bostonians, we know a thing or two about winter.
Of course, we can’t promise your toddler won’t have the occasional meltdown about putting on a lot of layers. And, the very best outdoor gear will not stop your child from having to pee the minute you zip up their snowsuit! Nonetheless, optimal outdoor clothing will substantially increase the chances of everyone having fun outside. And, we all know the benefits of fresh air and outdoor play can't be beat, and help make for a successful nap time!
When it comes to staying warm and dry outside during our cold northern winters it’s all about the layers. When we dress our kids for snow play, we opt for three layers of clothing: a base, a mid-layer, and an outerwear layer.
The base layer wicks moisture away from the skin and controls body temperature while the mid-layers trap warmth. Outerwear protects your little ones from snow, wind, and rain. Together, they keep the cold and wet at bay better than a single thick layer.
Also, kids move non-stop when they play, making them warm up fast, so they're likely to want to take off and put on their clothes many times. Next time you battle with your toddler about putting their coat on, ponder about how warm you'd be if you were running around the playground non-stop as they do.
Layers also make car rides, and bathroom breaks easier. So, choose pieces that are easy to take on and off quickly. If your child isn't fully potty-trained, easy-to-remove layers will save your sanity!
Toddler winter wear should also enable unrestricted movement. You don't want your little ones to be so bundled up that they can't run, climb and romp in the snow.
A suitable material is also crucial when it comes to choosing winter clothing. We suggest you opt for the base and mid-layers made from silk, merino wool, or lightweight synthetic materials. Natural fibers do tend to be more comfortable and less likely to irritate your child's still-sensitive skin.
Note that cotton is NOT your friend when it comes to outdoor clothing. Cotton absorbs sweat even in dry conditions, and wet kids are sure to be unhappy.
It's also essential that your child's outdoor clothing fits appropriately. If it's too big, it won't trap air against their skin and will keep them less warm. And, as tempting as it is to squeeze them into last year's gear, shirts, jackets, and boots that are too tight limit circulation, causing cold limbs, fingers, and toes. And, they are just uncomfortable.
We suggest buying gender-neutral colored outdoor clothing so it can be passed down. Also, kids grow so fast that they rarely wear out their outdoor play clothes so second-hand is a fantastic choice.
Here are our tips for dressing your little ones for winter play.
Start with a base layer.
The best base layer is lightweight, long john style pants paired with a long-sleeved top. Choose materials that are soft and comfortable and wick moisture away from the skin. We recommend merino wool, silk, or synthetic fabrics like polyester.
The base layer should be snug but not tight. If it fits properly, it will trap air next to your little one's skin, thus insulating them from the cold without restricting their movement.
Merino wool is our favorite base layer material for several reasons. It has a much greater capacity than other fibers to absorb moisture. It's also warm, hard-wearing, ultra-soft, and won't irritate sensitive young skin. Best of all, it doesn't get smelly. It's more expensive than other options but is also highly durable, so you can pass it down or purchase it second-hand.
Our favorite brands are Reima for merino wool base layers and LL Bean for simple polyester thermals, which are thinner and slightly less warm.
Next is the fleece layer.
Middle layers go over the base layer trapping air against the body and creating more insulation. Again they should fit well, sitting close to your little one's body without restraining movement.
Our favorite middle layer is a full-zip fleece jacket and fleece pants. These are super warm yet lightweight, comfortable, and easy to take on and off.
And now, the outer layer.
The outer layer protects your child from rain, snow, and wind. Ideal outerwear has a wind and water-resistant material on the outside with a chill chasing lining. Our favorite is nylon lined with down or Polartec.
Whether you prefer an all-in-one snowsuit or a pants and jacket combo is personal preference and each has its merits. An all-in-one suit is much easier and quicker to put on, but if kids get too hot, you can't just take off the jacket.
We prefer one-piece snowsuits with a zipper that runs all the way down to the knees or ankles, so it is easy to take on and off for diaper changes and potty breaks.
Ensure the jacket cuffs fit tightly around your little one's ankles and wrists to stop the cold or snow from creeping in. Elastic works, but we think that adjustable velcro tabs are best for ensuring a not too tight or too loose fit.
We try to buy expensive winter gear from second-hand stores, local mom groups, or social media marketplaces. Kids grow so quickly that usually, second-hand items are in excellent condition. Also, choosing gender-neutral colors makes it easier to pass them along.
We love this Burton one-piece, and you can also never go wrong with Patagonia and LL Bean.
Now mitts and hats.
Children's faces, ears, hands, and feet are most prone to cold exposure and frostbite so it is essential to cover their extremities.
We like heavy, non-cotton socks, waterproof boots and gloves, a scarf, and a hat. Earmuffs and facemasks add extra protection for frigid temperatures.
Mitts are better than gloves for young children. If you've ever tried to put a glove on a toddler's hand with every finger in the right place, you know it's about as easy as putting a diaper on a goldfish.
Mittens are easier to slip on and will keep your little one's hands warmer than gloves. Fleece mittens are great for keeping the cold out. Still, we recommend mittens with a fleece lining and waterproof shell for building snow people.
We love mittens with wrist elastics that stop them from falling off and getting lost! For babies, we especially like these mittens made by 7 AM Enfant.
For warmer winter days, knitted mittens are perfect as they keep hands warm but aren't restrictive.
A considerable percentage of body heat is lost through the head, so a good hat is an essential part of your tot's winter-weather wardrobe. This is especially true if your sweetie has yet to sprout a full head of hair. Even if their snowsuit has a hood, a close-fitting hat is vital.
Look for hats with ear flaps and a chin strap to keep those ears warm and stop the cap from flying off.
And finally, snow boots.
Joana has been buying the same snow boots for her kids since they could walk. They are a total win! They are great value for money, super toasty, and very easy to get on and off.
Here's a link to her favorite boots in the little kid (up to size 10, a little shorter) and big kid (taller boot, size 10+) versions.
And baby bunting.
If your little one is under a year old, an all-in-over with flaps that cover your baby’s feet and hands is a must. We recommend a fleece base layer like the LL Bean Hi Pile Fleece Bunting with a down top layer like LL Beans Infants Ultralight Down Bunting. Together these are very warm and not too bulky.
If you're spending a lot of time out and about in the stroller, we'd highly recommend getting a stroller footmuff. Most stroller brands make specific versions to fit their stroller. Additionally, 7 AM Enfant makes one that fits all strollers.
We love these because you don't need to put the baby in quite as many layers since they are basically in a sleeping bag. Any time you can avoid putting on more layers before leaving the house is a win in our books!
And for the parents.
If you are pushing a stroller in the winter, you absolutely should invest in a pair of stroller gloves! We like these ones you can purchase on Amazon. They might not be the prettiest out there, but trust us, we've tried the pretty ones and returned them. These are easier to take on and off and don’t have gaps that let the icy cold air sneak in.
Now go outside and play!
From our families to yours,
Joana + Lauren