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  • Writer's pictureKari S.

How to Dress Your Child During the Winter

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that dressing your kid during the winter is pretty challenging. Then again, pretty much every aspect of dealing with kids can be pretty challenging. Feeding them? Yep. Going for a car ride? Duh, car seats are a pain. Dressing them? Oh yeah! Clothes in particular can be hard, as we have our own tastes that may or may not be the same as our kids (they probably aren’t). While kids don’t care a whole lot about trends, they definitely care about how things feel, and it can be hard to balance practicality, fashion and their desires.

Sadly, things really only get harder during the winter months. Not only are there more clothes to put on (gotta layer up, after all), clothes get more complicated and uncomfortable. While we don’t mind huge, puffy coats, not all kids recognize their benefits. Gloves have straps, boots are way harder than shoes, the list goes on. It can feel pretty overwhelming to figure everything out to keep children warm and comfortable. Hey, that’s what the internet is for! Take a deep breath and check out a couple things to remember when dressing your tot for the chilly conditions.

Layers, layers, layers!

While we intuitively know exactly how many layers to put on to stay warm, it’s hard to know for kids. One general rule that is often used (and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics!) is to put on one more layer on a child than you would on yourself. This is for a couple reasons. Number one, it’s easy for us to put up with discomfort, but kids can have a much harder time. Number two, children and babies can have a harder time regulating their body temperature than us, making layers extra important. Number three, layers let you watch your child and add or remove warmth depending on how they’re feeling. The extra layer just adds some versatility in what temperatures they can get to.

Of course, layering isn’t as simple as that. You don’t want a child to overheat, and you don’t want them to get too sweaty, as that can just end up making them cold all over again. The key to this is to know how to layer. The layers directly against the skin should be wicking and able to absorb moisture to avoid this sweat issue, and should be pretty tight. Beyond this should be comfortable and not too-tight insulating layers to keep the child warm. On the outside, a jacket is free-flowing and allows for easy movement is perfect.

Think about materials

For your layers, different materials do different things. A child’s outermost jacket should be made of something that can withstand water and snow. Middle layers should be as warm as possible, made of insulating materials like wool or fleece. Innermost layers can be really any type of moisture wicking material, something that is relatively easy to find in most stores.

One more note about materials: cotton is a no-go. While it checks the boxes of comfy and easy to move in for middle or outer layers, it gets wet incredibly easily and doesn’t really dry up. Kids want to get out and play, but the second they jump in the snow and their cotton gets soaked, they will definitely not be having fun. Waterproofed outer layers are pretty much a must, and cotton alternatives for underneath should be pretty easy to locate.

Dress for comfort

As much as you may want to let your budding stylist career begin with your child, it’s best to keep things simple. This is especially true during the winter with items like mittens that can annoy certain kids to no end. Sure, those gloves are cool, but does your child or baby really find them comfortable? Yeah, those boots look great, but are they gonna keep those little toes dry? Don’t get too tempted to dress up your kid for the runway during winter. Keep things basic, practical and comfortable. Oh, and make sure everything fits before buying it!

Listen to the children

They need a jacket to stay warm, right? However, this is not always the best choice. While you shouldn’t let them go play in the snow in a t-shirt because they like the breathability, it’s a good idea to make sure they can move and feel generally comfortable in whatever you’re putting them in. One easy way to do this for kids under the age of 4 or so is to offer two options for most articles and see which they prefer. From here, you can see what they like and what feels better for them and make more educated choices. Plus, it helps them learn to express themselves with their clothes, which is just fun (and adorable!).

Keep some extras

While this isn’t exactly a dressing tip, it’s something that is hugely important when you’re hitting the snow (or any other cold environment) with a child. A dry bag full of extra clothes can be a lifesaver for both you and your child if they end up getting too wet while playing. Additionally, this can be a big help if they happen to lose any article of clothing along the way (and let’s be real, kids lose stuff). The dry bag ensures that any replacement will be as warm and comfortable as it can realistically be. Plus, if a youngin’ starts getting sick of one pair of gloves, maybe they’ll like the extra mittens mom or dad brought along better.

One of the main takeaways from this for dressing a child for winter is to remember to be prepared. A day out in the winter can either be a miserable chore or a joyous riot for a child, and properly layered, comfortable and warm clothing helps sway things in the positive direction. Try to think of where you’re going, how long you’ll be out and what conditions you’ll be in and you’ll start to get the hang of what to put your child in.

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