How to Dress Kids for Cold Weather
December 18, 2013


I have learned that just because it is getting cold outside and we have young children, it doesn’t mean that our family needs to be confined indoors during the winter months. We can still have just as much fun enjoying the outdoors, we just need to be sure everyone is appropriately dressed for the weather. Experience has taught me that nothing halts a potentially exciting outdoor excursion more than an improperly dressed, cold child so here is my guide to help you dress your kids for outdoor winter fun.

The most important thing when dressing for the outdoors is layer, layer, layer.  I can’t stress this enough. I have learned the hard way that it is much better to have a child overdressed than a child underdressed in cold weather. Kids can always take layers off but if they are underdressed, there’s not much they can do about it. This is one thing I am repeatedly telling my 8-year old who does not enjoy wearing coats: that he can always take it off if he gets too warm.

The inner layer, or base layer, should always be moisture-wicking so that any moisture or perspiration is kept away from your child’s skin to keep them from becoming cold and wet. This layer of clothing should be fairly snug. Choose moisture wicking fabrics like polyester or microfiber blends, polypropylene, silk, spandex, nylon, or Lycra. There are so many moisture-wicking brands available now like Coolmax or Climacool that it shouldn’t be difficult to find. Cotton is not a good choice for this layer: once it gets wet with sweat or snow, it doesn’t insulate.

The middle layer should be the insulating layer. I put fleece on my kids for this layer because it keeps them snug and toasty. Wool is also another good choice for this layer.

The outer layer, or shell, should always be water-resistant and windproof. This would normally be a water-resistant coat and snow pants, depending on how cold it is and what activity your child will be enjoying.

When you’re picking out socks, steer clear of cotton for the same reasons that you don’t want to use cotton for an inner layer of clothing. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet and that’s when kids get cold. Choose wool or synthetic materials for socks. Boots should be water-resistant or waterproof.

Hats and gloves or mittens are a must. I usually have a difficult time keeping a hat on my toddler, Miles but eventually he becomes so engrossed in our activity, he forgets that it’s there.

As a side note, keep in mind that if you have a baby or toddler along, they won’t be moving around as much as everyone else and therefore will be not creating as much body heat. This means that they’ll need some extra care and layering in order for them to be kept warm.


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