So, this post isn’t JUST about keeping babies warm in the winter, but really all kids. It’s the question I get most often from parents – how do we keep kids warm and happy outside?
After 4 kids (which is really the same as 10, right?!?!), I can tell you this: Kids are WAY more resilient than we give them credit for. Don’t let your baby (or kid) be your excuse for not getting out.
I am going to break this down into layers and give you suggestions based on the gear that we use. As always, I have to mention that this list is not exhaustive. I couldn’t possibly keep up with all the gear that is out there for kids. AND, to complicate things, every kid is different and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another!
Please do feel free to comment here with your questions, respond to other comments AND share your own must-have items. We’re all in this outdoor parenting thing together!
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Yes, if you’re getting out for extended periods (I say more than an hour at a time…but there is nothing scientific about that number), your baby AND your kids will be MUCH warmer with base layers. They’re the cozy layer that keeps the good air trapped close to their skin, helps them from getting chilled and works WITH their body to keep them warm.
Base layers should fit snug and should NOT be cotton (wool or Polypropylene is best).
Here’s three choices we recommend:
- Wee Woollies: Wool, obviously. Super soft, lightweight, and cute. I appreciate that I can just throw them in the washer AND dryer and they’re as good as new. We literally wear them daily around here year-round. Wool is pretty great for regulating in the summer and they make great pajamas. Available for ages newborn – size 8.
- Ellas’ Wool: Yep, wool again! Their line of base layers is new this year and it is fantastic. They are slightly thicker than Wee Woollies, very soft, and available for kids aged 3 mo – 10. Their baby sets (up until a 2T size) have feet too, which I love! Note – the baby sizes seem to run a little big (our average 9 month baby wears a 6-9 month size with room to grow) and I would err on the bigger side for the kid sizes (put a kid in a size 8 in the 8-10 size).
- Stripes Gear: My favorite Polypropylene choice. Polypropylene has the best thermal properties of any known fiber – natural or man made, and is non allergenic. The garments (check out those stripes, right?!) are 20% warmer than wool and contain no harmful substances. PolyPro also doesn’t absorb as much moisture as wool may, which is very helpful for kids that tend to get wet! I will say that these aren’t AS soft as the wool choices above, but they are still plenty cozy. Oh and they’re available for adults too (and we love them!) Starting at kids’ size 2T.
To be honest, this is the layer that can be fudged the most. As long as you have a great base layer and a great outer layer, any fleece or down/synthetic will do for that mid layer. However, again, this is what we use and love:
- Cubbies by ETS Apparel To be honest, I didn’t think we would love these as much as we do. It’s basically a fleece shirt with mittens zipped on. The mittens can be taken off by parents, but they solve the problem of kids getting their mittens off AND bunched up mid layers when you put on the outer layer. The mittens are also very warm AND supple enough to let kids move. We LOVE these and highly recommend them!
- REI Revelcloud Jacket – 50% off! A perfect layer that doesn’t add much bulk – and can be used as an outer layer too!
- The North Face Thermoball for kids – SUPER sale today only!!! Again, a perfect, packable layer!
- TUBES from Ella’s Wool: Super versatile because they can be worn as pants or a mid layer. And they roll up and down on the legs so fit a wide range of sizes. And they’re wool – and warmer than any fleece we have used.
- Ecolator from Terramar Sports: These are very much a base layer, but we layer them over our Wee Woollies especially on really cold days. “The high loft grid channels create an ideal microclimate that efficiently traps air and effectively allows circulation.” Super easy care, durable (some of ours are on kid #3 now), and very affordable. Plus they are slimmer than other fleece layers you may use and so allow a better ease of movement.
- REI Heavyweight Fleece – ON SUPER SALE! Smoking deal on these today only! Use code “25Garage” for an extra 25% off through 12/5!
- Patagonia Puff Ball Buntings: Very lightweight and warm. I also personally think these are light enough to wear in a car seat safely. These can also be used as an outer layer.
Staying dry is so key with outer layers! We also put a really high value on outer layers that are light and durable, especially for kids. There are a zillion choices out there, but here are a few we love:
- REI Timber Mountain Jacket – 30% off today only at REI!
- Big Agnes Ice House Hoody: Super warm and durable, especially for a down jacket. A great layer to stuff in to have anytime. Filled with DownTek treated down, so super warm, super packable and will last a really long time!
- DucKsday Ski Suits: We LOVE these ski suits. They have fleece lining on the hood and core, a really great waterproof outer shell and lots of details like adjustable waist so it’s not bulky, a ski pass holder and lots of pockets. Highly recommended! Sizes 2-8.
- TOBE Edus Monosuit: THE warmest snowsuits my kids have worn. TOBE makes gear for snowmobilers also and it’s obvious they know how to keep bodies warm. They are also extremely durable and will last forever. This is what you need if you are outside in cold weather all day long. Only downside? They’re heavy and not something the kids love wearing for long walks, etc.
- Snow Dragons: We love these because they are affordable, grow with the kiddos as they get bigger (letting out seams), and are very warm! I often see their snow pants on deals at Sierra Trading Post too! In fact, there are a ton online right now and free shipping with no minimum for Cyber Monday! For toddlers – big kids!
What about their feet?
Warm without bulk…easier said than done!
For babies: Stonz booties. We use them with Linerz and throw a handwarmer in between the layers on really cold days.
For toddlers and big kids:
And their hands?
Mittens can be SO tough. We reach for our Veyo Mittyz and Stonz Mittz (for infants and big kids) the most. They both have no-thumb options which are great for babies and layering. Around the age of 7 kids prefer thumbs….but before that thumbless are warmer and much easier to get on!
And their faces?
Little faces are always the toughest! Balaclavas and ski goggles are your friend to cover up skin. And if you get them used to wearing them from the very beginning, they (usually) don’t fight you on it quite as much. Youth Ski Goggles are really big on babies….but they also cover more of their faces.
Balaclava sizing is always a bit of a shot in the dark. We do like this one….and they tend to fit a really wide range of sizes!
Whew. I know that’s a lot! But, the truth of the matter is that if you can keep your kids warm and happy – the day just turns out so much better!!
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