Have you ever scrolled through your social media and seen all those pictures of kids playing outside in the cold looking happy as little clams and wondered what they must have bribed them with to look so happy? Or maybe they just have the ever-elusive, long thought to be mystical, “outdoorsy” kid (there’s no way MY kids would be happy outside in the cold for longer than 2 min). Because we all know that most kids end up crying/complaining/begging to come back inside the minute they step outside and realize it isn’t summer.
I have some great news for you! There’s actually a super easy trick to having your very own happy outdoor kids- The Right Clothes. With the right materials and layering techniques, you can have a happy, outdoor-loving kiddo of your own to make your social network jealous. Read on for 5 tips for cold weather success.
1. The Base Layer
It's all about the base. When it comes to the base layer, it’s all about the materials. Synthetics and wool are ideal. Try to stay away from cotton as it absorbs moisture and ends up making your child colder when it gets wet from sweat. Synthetics and wool help wick the moisture from the body creating the ideal base layer. You want them to fit snug against the body, but not so tight that it constricts their movement.
Brand isn’t especially important, but some good brands that we’ve used and loved are ShredDog Gear, Smartwool and CuddleDuds. Whatever your budget, watch for sales! I love to wait for a good sale and stock up on multiple sizes so that I always have the right gear when we need it.
2. The Inner Layer
This layer has a little more flexibility. Think comfortable, slightly loose, yet snug enough to not bunch up. Layering works by trapping warm air between the layers, so this next layer helps hold your kiddo’s heat against their body, keeping them nice and toasty. Cotton or fleece works well depending on how frigid the temps are going to be. We’re a fan of leggings or sweat pants and sweatshirts for this layer. We have some nice fleece for those extra cold ski days, but have found that for your average outdoor adventure, a basic cotton long sleeve/sweatpants combo works perfectly.
3. The Outerwear
This layer is the fun one. If you can, the 3-in-1 coats are ideal. You can shed layers as they move and get warm, but have the ability to keep them extra warm on those super cold days or when they’re not moving enough to create some good body heat. If you don’t have a coat with layers, just make your own. Get a nice basic fleece jacket and have your child wear it under their regular coat. Weather-proofing is a must! Depending on your geography, water-proof outerwear can make a huge difference for your kids outdoor experience. Snow that immediately soaks their coat will end your sledding or ski outing faster than you can ask if they want to build a snowman. So look for something that has a good waterproof rating. The beauty of the layers with the coats is that on those cold and sunny days, sometimes they just need the fleece jacket part. On a not as cold, but snowy day, they can wear the waterproof outer jacket. And on the super cold, wet snow days, they wear both. Win-win.
Don’t forget the snow pants. Bib-style works well because it’s an added layer across their mid-section. Water-proofing is important for these! I also love reinforcement on the knees and backsides because my kids spend quite a bit of time crawling around and digging and sliding down their homemade sledding hills on their rear ends.
4. The Extremities
Don’t forget the ears, fingers and toes! Having a good hat makes a big difference too. We have a mix of traditional beanie hats, wool hats and balaclavas. The balaclavas are the best for those cold and windy days as it protects their head, ears, cheeks and neck from the bite of the cold. But the kids also love mixing things up with their silly knitted hats!
I’m a big fan of mittens paired with warm inner lining gloves. The inner gloves keep their fingers warm, while the waterproof mittens keep their hands dry and protected from the wind. For their feet, warm wool socks (again, avoid cotton and stick with wool or synthetic, but wool really is best for their little feet). I try to have at least 2 pair for each kid so if one gets wet, we have a spare on hand. Boots need to be warm, good tread and waterproof. The cheaper ones from the big box stores can keep them warm, but tend to fail in the waterproofing department. We’ve discovered galoshes are AMAZING winter boots! Paired with the right socks (sometimes you’ll need to layer the socks if it’s extremely cold) galoshes can provide the right traction, warmth and waterproofing that you need. If you can’t find galoshes in your price range, I take advantage of the thrift stores and buy spare boots for when they inevitably get wet if we’re using the traditional big-box store boots.
5. Have fun and don’t forget the hot chocolate!
Encourage exploration and adventure! When kids have the proper gear to keep them warm and dry, there’s nothing stopping them from spending the day having adventures. Build a fort, make a snowman, use cars to create intricate roadways in the snow, paint the snow… the possibilities are endless. And don’t forget to have hot cocoa on hand to warm them up while you hear all about their adventures when they come in for a break.