Learn how to dress a toddler for winter with this simple gear guide! If you want to get outside time during the winter months, then you need warm clothing to keep your children warm! Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside this winter season.
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Living in Minnesota, we have our fair share of cold and snowy months. We definitely can’t get away with just a long-sleeved shirt and some warm socks to keep us warm when we are outside, especially if the wind chill is putting us at -20 degrees.
When our family set a goal to get as much outside time as possible, we knew that winter would be difficult because of how cold it gets here. However, I didn’t want that to stop us from going sledding or ice skating with our kids!
Believe it or not, young children are much more resilient than we give them credit for. They also don’t care if they look “cute” or not while they are outside playing. If you learn how to dress a toddler for winter weather, they will play outside for hours.
Below are layer recommendations and different price ranges for clothing so that no matter what your budget is, you can get your kids outside during this winter season.
How to Dress a Toddler for Winter: Layers
There are a few basic layers you need to think about when wondering how to dress your toddler for winter:
- Base Layer
- Middle layer
- Outer Layer
- The layer I like to call “accessories”
These layers are all crucial to make sure your toddlers will want to stay outside for more than five minutes at a time. You want to make sure you aren’t buying flimsy layers or skimping on any of them. You might think that they will get too warm, and if they do, great! Kids can remove layers, but it sure is hard to add more once you’re outside!
Let’s go more in-depth on each layer below.
The base layer provides the first defense of warmth. You typically want material like merino wool or other synthetic fibers that move sweat away from the body but also keep your body temperature regulated. This would be things like thermal underwear or long johns.
You don’t want material like cotton because it will keep the sweat on your body, causing your child to get cold. Cotton sweaters can be a part of your middle layer instead of your base layer.
The middle layer consists of clothing that will keep you warm. Think flannel shirts, sweaters, or a jacket lining. There are two parts to the middle layer, your regular clothing and an extra layer for warmth.
These are thicker and will help to keep you warm. These go over the regular clothing you put on your toddler. If you want to ensure your child stays warm, dress them in long sleeve shirts and warm pants, typically sweatpants that are lined.
Over their clothing, you will want to have a flannel button-up or a sweater that will trap heat in.
This layer is important to keep your child dry. You want a windproof and waterproof outer layer.
For toddlers, I find it easier to have a snowsuit rather than your typical snow pants and a winter jacket. Younger children have a hard time with so many layers and articles of clothing, I think it is easier to have one thing for them to slip on. My almost three-year-old can get into his snowsuit himself.
I find that most snowsuits that are on the market are not the most waterproof. Typically waterproof snowsuits are more expensive, so if you’re looking to do things like skiing, you want to make sure the snow suit has a waterproof shell or you can use snow pants and a winter coat.
I call these accessories because they are the extras, but they are absolutely necessary. These are your hats, gloves, socks, and footwear.
It is so hard to find good quality snow boots for children. If you live in a very cold and snowy area, like I do, you most likely will have to invest in a good pair of winter boots. Cat and Jack boots from Target won’t cut it if you’re looking to play in the snow.
You want your snow boots to have a good lining, whether it is merino wool or other synthetic fibers that are insulating. You also want to make sure they come up high enough on your toddler’s legs. I usually aim for mid-calf or knee length so the snow stays out of their boots.
Hats and Mittens:
Personally, for toddlers, I love to have as little extras as possible. If an article of clothing has dual purposes, I’m more apt to buy that.
With that being said, I aim for a warm hat that also goes over the toddler’s neck and has a face shield on it. Other hats that have worked well, especially with toddlers who don’t like to keep hats on are bomber hats that have ear flaps and a strap to keep their hat on. These hats should also be waterproof.
The best mittens for toddlers to use are ski mittens. Gloves don’t fit well on toddlers’ small hands and hardly keep snow out of them.
Ski mittens are typically long on the arms so they go over your toddler’s wrists and have straps on them to tighten them. This keeps moisture and cold air out. Like everything else, they need to be waterproof and insulated.
Wool, thick socks are a must for winter. Thick wool socks will keep your toddler’s feet insulated while also moving sweat away from their feet. I don’t think there’s any other option when going for socks. If their feet don’t stay warm, you won’t be outside long at all!
Recommended Clothing To Dress a Toddler For Winter:
Wool Base Layer Clothing:
Although I’ve never personally tried this company, I love that they have layers for toddlers AND babies! I plan to eventually buy these for our kids eventually but I for sure will buy a set for our next baby!
Synthetic Base Layer Clothing
Zando: Amazon Brand
This is the brand I bought my kids. They are relatively affordable and are durable. My kids have stayed warm in these and are a great option to lounge in inside of a ski hut!
These have great reviews and are another option for you to buy.
Outer Layer Clothing to Dress a toddler for winter:
We have this snowsuit and they work well for general playing outside. It keeps my toddler warm and is relatively waterproof.
The Following have excellent reviews and are well-known for their winter gear.
I am biased by saying I think Didriksons is the best brand. They have everything you can think of. It isn’t surprising because it is a Swedish brand.
However, I did get a great brand from Amazon that works just as well!
For Winter Hats I like versatility and one that serves multiple uses. The hats we own not only cover their ears, but they go around their neck and have a face mask for them as well! It’s perfect for those windy days!
I saw this mom on YouTube who used hunter rain boots for her kids’ winter boots as well. You can buy the Hunter boot socks to go with the boots and they are waterproof and warm! The reviews for this are all positive.
While I have not given this a try, if you already have Hunter boots and want a minimal wardrobe, this is your best bet! Hunter boots last a long time and are one of the best brands of rain boots.
That being said, the best brands for boots we’ve had so far are North Face and Kamik.
Kamik is more budget-friendly and you can typically find them on sale. They work well for small toddlers because they have flexibility so you can get your child’s foot into the boot easily. I always have to size up with boots for my kids, so take that into consideration.
North Face is a well-insulated brand. My only problem with this brand is if your kid is not at a point where they flex their foot easily, it is hard to get them on. These are probably better for older toddlers.
There is an assortment of wool sock brands you can find online, especially on Amazon, that are budget-friendly.
Smart Wool Socks are also a great brand for kids and adults. They are durable and last a long time. Most cheaper wool sock brands will start to get holes in them after some use.
Tips for staying outside in the cold weather:
While it sounds good to get outside, we need to have things to do and be prepared for anything when it comes to winter outdoor play. So here are some tips and tricks to getting your family outside and staying outside!
Go to an area that has a warming house or another indoor area:
This is especially important for when you’re potty training. Toddlers are notorious for having to constantly go to the bathroom and you want to make sure an area for that is provided.
You also want to have a warming house or indoor area available to warm up when needed. It is much easier to spend a few hours outside if you can take fifteen-minute breaks here and there to warm up.
Make sure you’re providing fun activities for the kids:
While I’m not sure toddlers will want to play typical winter sports, like hockey, they will get bored easily if you just bring them outside and expect them to walk around. Bring sleds and other toys for them to occupy their time. I know my kids could sit in a sled for hours and have all the fun in the world.
Unlike the warm weather months, you probably won’t be outside for many hours straight. Once colder weather hits, your body does need a break and it is important to do so. You can take breaks for snack time or to have a warm drink. It will be much easier to be outdoors if you do this.
Learn From Others:
If you are not convinced it is possible to get outside when it is cold, I encourage you to read There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather. This book solidified our convictions to get outside more and to be prepared for any type of weather!
Other books to read to motivate you to get outside are Balanced and Barefoot and Last Child in the Woods.
These are great to read while your kids play at the park 🙂
Don’t let the extreme cold prevent you from taking your kids outside this winter season. With all the benefits of playing outside, it is of utmost importance now, more than ever, to make sure our kids are getting outside time and fresh air! By knowing how to dress your child for winter weather, you will be sure to have plenty of fun outdoors.