How to Dress Kids for Winter
Once the temperate dips below freezing, many parents wonder what’s the best way to dress kids for winter! While good outerwear is very important for your little ones’ comfort, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Having the right layers that accommodate active movement is key!
Living in South Central Alaska, we don’t experience the extreme cold climate that the interior gets. But it’s not uncommon to reach temperatures as low as -30 Fahrenheit (-34 Celsius) in our area. Still, my children are generally comfortable playing outdoors during the winter with these three layers: a base layer, middle layer, outer layer.
Layer One: Base Layer
A good base layer is important when dressing kids for winter. You’ll need a close-fitting top, bottom and socks. Your base layer needs to have a moisture-wicking fabric to handle any moisture your child’s body produces. But not all fabrics are made equal! You’ll want to avoid cotton. Polyester and nylon are effective and affordable. These are our favorite – they're really soft and very insulating. Wool socks are a must-have for us in the wintertime. If you don’t have any, I suggest you size up in their boots and dress them in more than one layer of socks instead.
Layer Two: Middle Layer
The middle layer is comprised of roomy and flexible clothing. Cozy fleece and knit items are perfect! The middle layer should include a top and bottom, such as the Jan & Jul Fleece Jackets and Pants. If you have a baby, the Jan & Jul Fleece Suit is great too. The middle layer also includes Jan & Jul Knit Mittens or other knit gloves. Other suggested options for this layer include neck warmers, scarves and hand warmers.
Layer Three: Outer Layer
The outer layer should be waterproof, windproof and durable. Jan & Jul Cozy-Dry Rain Jackets, Rain Pants, Rain Suits, and Bib Pants work well for us. (If you are baby wearing, we love the Cozy-Dry Rain Cover too.) When layering mittens, Knit Mittens should be on the bottom, then hand warmers, followed by Jan & Jul Waterproof Mittens. Then to keep heads warm, put on a close-fitting, windproof hat such as Jan & Jul’s insulated Trapper Hats. The final step is an insulated, water-resistant boot with foot warmers. Make sure your kids’ boots aren’t too snug – without proper air circulation, feet will get chilled quickly. So again, if you choose to double layer socks, make sure you size up in boots.
When the weather gets quite cold, you can add an additional middle layer. I add another sweater, pair of pants, a balaclava as well as an extra pair of socks and mittens around -10 to -20 Fahrenheit (-23 and -28 Celsius).
Apart from the temperature, your kid’s level of movement and activity is also an important factor when deciding to layer more or not. Children under the age of four often become chilled faster than older more active children. If your child is too old to be worn, then consider adding an additional layer to their clothing, providing hand & foot warmers, or wrapping them in a cold weather rated sleeping bag.
When first moving to a cold climate or as a new parent, how to dress your kids for winter can be a big mystery. But I hope this guide was helpful! This “formula” is what works for our family, and you might experiment to find the best way to dress your kids for winter. We really do wear Jan & Jul all through the winter and investing in high-quality gear has made all the difference!