Outfitting Your Adventurous Petite Toddler
Finding quality outdoor gear for toddlers can be tough, if you have a petite toddler, it gets a little harder. You have a little one who is ready to rip, but you can’t find the gear for them to do it well, stay warm or dry.
A few of us over here Tales of a Mountain Mama have had some petite kiddos, and we hope that some of these items and tips might help you out with your petite littles!
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Many companies don’t have quality hard-shells and outdoor gear until 2T or even kids 4 sizes. And warm winter boots rarely start at size 4, they most often start at size 5. If you have a petite kid, this is where it gets tricky!
My first daughter was right on target or a little ahead with the clothing size charts for age and was in the 50th-75th percentiles. My second is a petite little thing. She hovers around the 35th percentile and is typically a size or two under her age.
Our current wardobe also hasn’t been helped by the fact that she is two calendar months behind Kylie (April and June birthdays). Since Kylie was bigger and typically sized a little ahead of schedule, little Nora has received a mostly new wardrobe, lucky kid!
We have been able to hand down some stuff, a lot of things we are just making do with, but other things I had to buy new. I felt like every piece of outdoor gear we had was just too big for Nora.
To try and make it a little easier for reference, I have tried to offer sizing comparisons based on clothing sizes instead of age (since petite kids are normally under their clothing size age).
From winter gear to summer hats, we will give you some of our top picks to keep you little adventurer outfitted!
Tips for outfitting petite toddlers:
Some of us here on the TMM Team have had a petite toddler or two, here are some of our favorite tips!
- Get pants with an adjustable waistband (petite kids are normally narrow in the waist)
- Buy quality gear that can be worn for more than a year
- Look for deals in off sizes, especially brands that run big (i.e. Burton)
- If you are crafty, adding a few stiches in or adjustments can help out sizing issues
- Footwear for Petite Toddlers
- Outerwear for Petite Toddlers
- Baselayers for Petite Toddlers
- Protective Gear
Footwear for Petite Toddlers
These neoprene boots are waterproof and have a very flexible rubber sole which is great for growing feet. The Baby Bogs are a great fall/spring boot, but not quite warm enough for outdoor winter activities (at least in Wisconsin). We love that these have a super flexible sole and my tiny tot was able to walk in them without tripping.
There is a velcro opening in the back which makes it easy to get the boot on and off, but it can also lead to the back of the foot getting wet if they get submerged too much.
MSRP of $55. Sizing starts at Toddler 4.
Although the Kamik Stance starts at size 5, I feel like they run a little small and I have always sized up in them. The size 5 fit my size 4 kiddo great, especially with wool socks.
I love that these boots are waterproof, lightweight and warm. The Stance utilizes a foam sole instead of rubber to keep them lighter. Out of several winter boots that we tried on, my daughter was able to walk the most normal in these.
Although they have an MSRP of $59, I often score these around $30 on amazon if you are not too picky on color.
The Pediped Originals was pretty much the only shoe my daughter wore once she started walking. They have a very flexible leather sole and upper that is designed for growing feet. The leather bottoms are durable and held up to running on our driveway and hiking in the mountains. She wore these for inside activities, running around the yard and even toddler hikes. This was our primary shoe before Nora could fit into a size 4 shoe.
One downside is there is not a lot of traction on the bottom, so she would sometimes slip on our hardwood or a tile floor if her shoes were dirty.
MSRP is around $40 depending on style, but can often find cheaper on Amazon.com. Sizing starts a newborn/US 3.5 to 24 months/US 6.5.
We love our Keens for the girls. They start at size 4 for little feet and offer a wider toe box so the feet can expand naturally. We love our Seacamp CNX Sandals and Chandler CNX shoes. If your girl has narrower feet, try the Moxie. If your little has wider feet, try the Newport Sandal.
MSRP $50 and starts at size 4.
A little shoe meant for the outdoors and growing feet. A wide toe box, grippy sole and water proof uppers make this a great shoe for the playground or the trail.
MSRP $55 and they start at Toddler 4 (they even have half sizes.)
These shoes are great because they are very durable and lightweight. Some Keens can be heavy for a tiny foot so TMM Team Member Jen prefers Plae sandals for biking and backyard play. The flat bottoms don’t make for great hiking shoes though.
MSRP is $53 and up depending on style of shoe. Limited sizes/colors in size 5, most start at size 6.
These booties are a life saver keeping little feet warm and dry while camping and dry outdoor play. Easy to get out and a tight ankle closing means they fit for several sizes. Jen’s daughter Aria still wears the 2T-5T daily.
MSRP $29 and sizing runs from 0-3M to 2T-5T.
Outerwear for Petite Toddlers
Had I known about Reima when my first was born, we would probably have a lot more of it. Quality gear that is built to last….AND they make their good stuff for toddlers too! From shoes to hats and everything in between, Reima has got your petite toddler covered, literally.
Use code “mtnmama” for 20% off anything at Reima.
These are so awesome for the fall and spring. Just slide them over whatever your little is wearing and send them out. Whether you are looking to protect their nicer pants or protect them from the elements, these pants will do that. Both of our girls have these and wore them daily in the fall when we went outside.
They have an adjustable waist and elastic cuffs at the bottom that keeps the pants from dragging if they are too long. Reima will tell you right on their website that their stuff runs a little big. Measure and pick the recommended size for the best fit.
When we ordered last fall, the 12-18M were out of stock, so we ended up with the 18-24M. Nora was only in 12M clothing at the time, so I knew they would be big. Even with he waist cinched all the way, they were a little loose, but we survived. Nora is in 18M clothing now and they are a better fit and will probably last her through this fall or beyond since she is still on the small end of them
MSRP $59 and they start at size 12-18M. (Don’t forget to use code “mtnmama” for 20% off!)
We love our Oaki suit and the flexibility it provides. We have utilized ours year round for several years. One of the best parts about Oaki is the ability to size up and still have a decent fit on your kiddo (the key is the internal waist cinch). We were able to cinch down our 4T size Oaki rain suit (from Kylie) to fit Nora who was wearing 12M clothing the first time she wore it. Was it baggy? A bit. Could she still walk? Yup, she could do everything she wanted.
This past winter, our Oaki suit doubled as her outer shell. We didn’t have a waterproof snowsuit that fit her, but her down bunting from last year still did. We layered that with her Oaki suit for a warm and waterproof winter snowsuit.
MSRP $69 and starts at 12M size (but size up to get more use!)
The Patagonia Down Sweater is a great pick for anyone in your family. Lightweight warmth without bulk. This is a great mid-layer or an outer layer on cool, dry days. It is also compressible enough that it can be safely used in a car seat (if sized properly).
MSRP $99 and starts at 6M sizing.
Looking for other puffy jacket options? Check out our Best Puffy Jackets for Kids post!
Columbia has a decent selection of quality toddler clothing at a decent price. We are a fan of the Benton Springs fleece jacket and have it in multiple sizes (the outlet store always has good deals on these).
This Columbia snow two-piece set has served us well. It was good for two seasons with my first daughter and we are on season one with Nora. The 2T size was a bit big when Nora was still in 12M clothing, so we just used the jacket with some softshell pants. As winter progressed, the bibs were fitting around 18M clothing size.
Both the jacket and the bibs have the “Outgrown” system, where you cut a string to make them a 1.5 inches longer. Well, I did that with my first, and there isn’t a quick way to shorten them again (my biggest beef with this one-way system). However, my sewing machine and I just put a simple running stitch back where the original stich was and so far, so good!
The bibs are SUPER adjustable, so this suit can work before those 2T clothing days!
MSRP $130 and sizes 2T-4T.
We got this bunting in the 6M-12M size for Nora for her first winter (age 6-9 months and 6M clothing) and it was pretty big on her. Big enough that it fit perfectly for her second winter (age 18-21 months/12M and 18M clothing). It’s toasty, but can compress down. Down insulation and a fuzzy lining makes this super warm, even on the coldest days. On wet, snowy, or really windy days, we layer her Oaki rain suit on top for a pretty bomb-proof set-up.
Baselayers for Petite Toddlers
Super soft merino wool baselayers. We have been very happy with our onesie and pants set. However, I do feel like the bottoms run big in comparison to the onesie. At 12 month clothing size, the 6-9 month pants were still a little long, but a decent fit. The 6-9 month top is a snug fit at 12 month clothing size.
We also love our Wool Tubes for a midlayer. Meant to fit for multiple seasons by rolling, or unrolling. They have been our go to under the Reima Kuori pant.
Check out our Ella’s Wool Tubes full review here!
Sizing starts at 3-6M for baselayers and 9-18M for Tubes. Use code “Tales89” for 10% off.
When it was time to size up our baselayers, we decided to try out Iksplor and we are liking them. Iksplor utilizes a long sleeve shirt and pants (instead of a onesie like Ella’s Wool). Fun colors, machine wash and dry, and made in the USA. They even have fold over mitts for the little ones. Iksplor also has merino hats, neckies, and blankets.
Check out our full review of Iksplor base layers here! And use code “mtnmama20” for 20% off!
Sizes start at 0-3M and up.
Patagonia Capiline (synthetic) baselayers tend to run pretty big in my opinion. They are smooth and soft with reinforced elbows and knees. Do not size up, even on my “normal size” kid these ran big. You want base-layers to be sung to help with warmth and moisture management. But… if you have a slower growing kid, these will last you a while.
Because they run big and are built to last, one pair can last us up to 2.5/3 years.TMM Team Member Jen
Helly Hansen Lifa Merino base layers are made a wool/polypropylene blend that is both warm and durable with added protection in knees and elbows. We love this set because it does run small and narrow making layering over easier. HH uses CM sizing, so measure your kid and check the size chart. The 86/1 size is comparable to 12/18M clothing in my experience, but measure first!
HH also makes a 100% Merino wool baselayer set. Check it out here.
Chances are if you tot is petite, they also run chilly. TMM Team Member Jen hasn’t found a warmer base layer than the Airblaster Ninja suit. With snug hood, potty zip and pockets, this suit has everything. It also works just as well a size big as the cuffs and general cut is fairly slim, extra fabric doesn’t seem to bunch up like other brands. They are a little bigger than toddler size, as the smallest size 5-6, but Jen says they run smaller and she is on season number 2 for her daughter.
Accessories for Petite Toddlers
We love our Smartwool in our house. The baby and toddler socks are great for helping keep tiny toes toasty. We also like the hats and neck gaiters too. The Merino cuffed beanie hat is reversible and warm and is a great fit under helmets.
Sunday Afternoons play hat is our favorite summer/sun hat, hands down. Nora loves to wear it and it keeps the sun off her face and neck. Best part, the adjustable strap on the back will make this hat last for 2 or more summers. Comes in lots of fun prints and colors too!
Specs say that a Small fits 18½” – 19¾” heads, but Nora wore hers last summer and her head was smaller than that, around 17″-17½”.
If you are looking for a little backpack for your little hiker, look no further than the Deuter Pico. Designed for pint-size hikers with fun designs, they will be happy to carry their diapers, snacks, toys or whatever else they find on the trail.
Check out our full review of the Deuter Pico here!
These pants are great for crawlers to young toddlers. They are lightweight, easy to move in, and have just enough padding to keep some of the common play bumps and bruises at bay. The material is a durable legging type material and should stand up to loads of indoor play and outdoor play on non-abrasive surfaces. I would happily pair these with the Reima softshell pant for some outdoor play when its cool or you need some added protection. You can also easily get a baselayer underneath.
The padded pants utilize 3D mesh in the knees and butt to provide a little cushion, but not so much that it is difficult to move around. I do wish that the ankle cuff had a little elastic in it so we didn’t have to roll it up, but otherwise these are great if you are looking to add just a little cushion. I would not use these as a replacement for knee pads when biking, etc.
They seem to run true to size as the 2T was just a little big on my 18M pants kid.
Good fitting protective gear can be a challenge for a petite toddler, here are some of our favorites that we use!
Strider was the first to make tiny pads and TMM Team Member Jen was so stoked to get their hands on a pair. These are still the tiniest pads she has found and they work great for the 12-24 month size crew. Downside is the back straps can be itchy they aren’t very breathable.
G-form also makes small pads which are super comfortable, easier to pack, but more expensive. These fit 3-5 years old roughly but I’ve seen many an adventure mom throw in an additional stitch to fit smaller limbs.
Transition pads are great for more aggressive riders. They are super light and designed for the little bikers. The pads will form with body heat for comfort and have a breathable mesh back panel. Elbow pads and knee pads available.
The Bell Sanction comes as small as 48cm which will give your adventure tot full face protection that’s lightweight, breathable and safe.
Check out our post on how to get kids to wear their helmets!
The Doodlebug XS fits heads from 48-50cm (48cm seems to be the smallest any snow sport helmet goes to) but, don’t let that scare you off. Nora’s head was only 44cm when she started wearing this helmet, but paired with her Smartwool hat, this helmet was a snug fit when tightened.
So why this helmet instead of others? It is super lightweight (9.6 ounces), which is important for those little ones to be able to hold their head up.
Extra small frame goggles for little rippers or back yard sledders. We love using goggles all winter for outdoor play or sledding, especially on windy or sunny days! Much easier than sunglasses and they come in fun designs.
It’s hard to find a helmet smaller than the Scamp, especially with optional MIPS protection. XS is 45-49cm and S is 49-53cm sizes. Nora was under the XS size range last summer, but with a lightweight snug hat or headband underneath, we made it work. Another perk of this helmet is that it has a flatter back, making it a good fit for riding Shotgun or in the Burley Trailer.
Starting with sizes 1-2, I don’t think there are smaller bike gloves out there. Our girls can get them on and off all by themselves and love wearing them! Padded palm helps protect if they fall and a soft nose wipe is always handy.
Measure your kids hand and compare to the size chart to ensure the best fit. They also come in a full finger design.
Exceptions to the Rule from TMM Team Member Jen
Having a negative 10th percentile baby taught me to ignore sizing and just match my kids specs. For example I found a 18-24 month Burton snowsuit two seasons ago for $45 new. My kid wore it from 2 to 4 years old. She could have worn it longer with their grow-with-me extended cuffs, but matching sister was more important this year!
Burton’s snowsuits are crazy soft, well cut and well made making buying a suit to last several years an easy choice. Buying some things big actually works out quite well but it depends on the brand. Double check sizing specs before ordering, many outdoor brands have baby and toddler sizes deeply discounted in odd sizing. Aria wore a “newborn” size Patagonia jacket until she was almost a year old, sometimes it’s best to through sizing out the window.
Outfitting a petite toddler can be tough, but we hope these items and tips help make it a little easier for you!
Have something else that has worked great for a petite toddler? Leave it in the comments below, we would love to check it out!
Outfitting Your Adventurous Petite Toddler
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