The Bare Essentials of a Kid’s Winter Wardrobe

When the cold season comes, you enter the eternal struggle between parents and kids: The former wants the latter to wear dozens of warm layers to stay safe in the snow and ice; meanwhile, the latter wants the mobility and style of as little clothing as possible. Many parents wonder whether the bundling brawl is one worth having, or whether their kids will survive wearing whatever they choose.

In truth, the details of a safe winter wardrobe depend on where you live — on how harsh your cold season gets. Still, it’s smart to have a few types of clothing on hand, should the weather turn or should you decide to take a trip to somewhere a bit more frigid. This is what you and your kid need to shop for, so you can both survive the winter without frozen fingers or strife.

Comfortable Layers

Of course you know that layers are the best solution to staying warm when it gets cold; that’s how adult winter wardrobe’s work, too. The keyword here is “comfortable,” which many parents forget when bundling their little ones up for the cold season. It doesn’t matter how tightly you pack them into a puffy coat or how many scratchy wool sweaters you stuff them into; if they aren’t comfortable in their winterwear, they probably won’t be in it (and warm) for long.

What’s more, too many layers is as dangerous to your child’s health as too few. That’s because if your child is too warm, they will start to sweat, dampening their clothes and lowering their body temperature. Instead, you should aim for three layers:

  • The base layer. This layer should wick moisture, so it should be made from wicking synthetics like polyester. It should also be somewhat snug without restricting movement.
  • The middle layer. This layer should insulate. Natural fabrics, like wool, down and fleece are ideal.
  • The outer layer. This layer should function like protection. Ideally, it will repel rain, snow and wind (see the waterproof section below) and remain breathable, especially if your kid is active. This layer should be roomy to provide space for the layers underneath.

Waterproof Outfit

It isn’t just the outer layer of their clothing that needs to be waterproof. A better outfit is water- and wind-resistant from head to toe. As soon as the first snow flurries start to stick, kids want to go outside and play. They spend hours on their knees and backsides digging into snow drifts with their hands and feet and even heads. When that snow melts into clothing that isn’t waterproof, it increases the likelihood of hypothermia and frostbite — which we don’t need to tell you is bad for kids.

Whenever your kid is heading out into the snow, you should wrap them up in a complete outfit, complete with snow pants and waterproof boots for girls and boys. When shopping for this kind of gear, beware of clothing items that boast “resistant to water,” as these aren’t necessarily waterproof and will likely not protect your kid as much as you want. Instead, you should check to make sure the stitching is sealed from the inside — the seam will feel like a ribbon inside the attire — to verify that it won’t let water in.

Accessories

Your kid might have five coats, 10 sweaters and 20 long-sleeved tees in their wardrobe during the winter months, but that still isn’t enough to keep them warm and safe. In fact, the chest and legs aren’t at much risk of freezing; it is the extremities, like fingers, toes and faces, that need the most protection come winter. This is because these smaller parts of the body have less blood circulating in them, which means it is harder for the body to warm them up when temperatures drop. If you don’t outfit your kids with the appropriate winter accessories, they could still end up with frostbite.

Specifically, you should try to protect ears, noses, lips, hands and feet. This means your kid’s accessory needs include:

  • Hats
  • Hoods
  • Earmuffs
  • Scarves
  • Balaclavas
  • Mittens
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Boots

When your kids are old enough, you should include them in their winter wardrobe shopping. Then, you will be sure to buy outfits that are comfortable and stylish — i.e. outfits they will wear and stay warm in.

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