How to Keep Kids Warm All Winter

Cold weather is oh so suddenly upon us. It’s shocking how quickly we can change from a beautiful fall to full-on winter. Our inbox has also been flooding with the question we are all asking: “how to keep kids warm?!?”

Since in many parts of the country the temperatures didn’t gradually drop, but instead switched drastically in the matter of a couple of days, we’ve all been thrown into the task of keeping the kids warm outside with little to no practice.

Over the years we have developed a system that works for us, though that “system” is a little different for each kid not only because of their ages, but also because they are different kids.  

Just like adults, some kids run warm and some seem to be always cold. Our kids run the full gamut of extremes – so we’ve had to tweak things just a bit for each one of them individually. 

We will be listing our best tips below, but it’s important to take your own children into consideration and know that there is no “fool proof right way” to dress them and keep them warm.

Check Humidity!

Please note: humidity is a huge factor as far as how cold it feels. Twenty degrees in Montana or Wyoming feels much different than 20 degrees in Washington or Oregon.

Humidity levels must be taken into consideration. Thankfully that’s easy to do by just stepping outside.

Choose Quality Gear

I think it’s essential to note that while I do not think you need to go out and spend big bucks on each child, seeing proper clothing as an investment for your peace of mind, their comfort and safety AND the greater likelihood of a successful outdoor experience for all is priority.

It’s easy to fall back on the notion that “they will just outgrow it quickly so I am not paying that money”, but good gear really does make all the difference.

The good news is that kids everywhere also happen to outgrow clothing quickly so quality secondhand kids gear is relatively easy to find.

We spend the money on quality pieces that we know we can pass down. Kids also could care less about what they’re wearing, as long as it keeps them warm and it feels good, so last years’ versions are just as good.

Layering Is Key

Layering is the best way to keep kids AND adults warm all winter and in changing conditions. We lined out specifically how we layer for kids in this post.

Our System for general wintery weather

  • Quality base layers
  • Fleece suit or wool mid layer
  • Down bunting or coat/pants and/or wind layer
  • Wool socks
  • Quality warm and waterproof boots
  • Hat that covers ears completely
  • Quality mittens (much warmer than gloves)

For the coldest weather

This is what my kids wear when it is below zero (yes, it’s ok to go out with them in it in most cases!) The trick is to keep all skin covered, check them often, wear quality layers, and keep them out of the windchill if at all possible.

Also, having warm drinks handy for breaks, snacks to keep the body nourished and just limiting prolonged excursions in general helps.

  • Quality non-cotton base layer
  • Mid layer
  • Fleece suit
  • Down suit
  • Glove liners + hand warmer + thick outer mitten
  • Wool socks + foot warmer + quality outer boot (for babies, I stick the foot warmers in between the layers on Stonz booties.)
  • Ski mask made for kids (to keep at least chin covered and more of their face)
  • If needed a fleece neck warmer (do NOT use scarves – they can get caught and tangled and become a safety hazard)
  • Warm hat that covers theirs ears and sides of their face completely.
  • Ski goggles (If exposed because they are riding in a carrier)
  • An enclosed trailer (Chariot, Burley D’Lite, or Ski Polk) and adding on blankets in the coldest of conditions helps significantly.

Special Note for Babies

I’ve found that wearing babies is the best way to regulate their temperature and know how they’re doing at all times. I really REALLY love the “Make My Belly Fit” panel because I can wear my winter coats with it. Just be sure not to overdress Baby. Usually a great hat and good base layers are enough if they are close to your body.

© 2015, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.


  • Amelia lives with her husband and five young children outside of Jackson, WY in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom, she quickly learned that the secret to sanity was to spend more time outside where tantrums don't see quite so bad. Amelia started TMM in 2012 to help encourage all families (including her own) to get outside, no matter the weather. Due to the necessity of having to keep so many kids warm and happy, she has become an expert in kids' gear and loves being able to share it with others.

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5 thoughts on “How to Keep Kids Warm All Winter”

  1. Awesome tips. While I don’t have babies or even young kids anymore, I feel like proper winter clothing made all the difference when my boys were young. In fact, I don’t think they would love the outdoors half as much if I hadn’t dressed them properly when they were younger.

    As an aside, my kids are teens now, and they LOVE to ski. They always where good, warm clothing on ski days, but on regular winter days, they ALWAYS neglect to dress properly. Do all teenagers do this, or just my kids? They walk to school in converse and hoodies, and they rarely travel anywhere with a coat or jacket. Exasperating!

  2. I could not agree more on quality winter gear. We live in northern Canada and if we want to get out it has to be good quality. I make sure to buy gender neutral colours so it can be passed down from kid to kid and quality brands so it makes it through our three kids

  3. I’ve always found the gloves/mittens the hardest part. Hard to get on, easily pulled of when the kid wants to grab something but can’t. Until I discovered those mittens with a zipper. Easy to put on for kids of 2 years and over as you just have to get the thumb in, and the kids still can use their hands. Except maybe for biking, using the brakes is still somewhat hard with mittens.

  4. How do you other mamas do diaper changes outside in the winter? I have found this the hardest part of being out with my infant this winter. We are cloth diapering too, which adds an extra challenge. Just wondering if anyone has found any tricks I haven’t heard of. Thanks!

    Oh, and I found Ella’s Wool brand base layers to be amazing! The little dude stays warm and I love using the natural fiber instead of polypropylene.

    • Hi Erin, we do mostly cloth too, but honestly I put them in disposable if I know we will be out a long time just because the do tend to keep them feeling drier. And then I don’t change them for a while unless they poop or something and really need it. And then it’s really fast. HA! I know that’s probably not helpful, but the truth 😉


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