When winter arrives with all the soft snowfalls and special Holidays, we also greet the cold weather.
Early Advantage children have the opportunity to go outside twice a day to play, so proper clothing becomes critical.
In this resource we will cover the importance of appropriate winter clothing, the process (and boy, is it a process) of dressing so your child can be comfortable getting in and out of their winter clothes, and finally offer some tips and recommendations from us to you!
The Importance of Dressing Your Child in the Right Winter Gear
When it’s cold outside in our neck of the woods and your child wants to play outside, it’s important to think through what it takes to keep them warm.
Here are some of our best tips to dressing children for winter:
Layering is a great way to ensure your child doesn’t get the damp chills from sweat or wet from snow or ice.
- Base Layer: We love moisture-wicking material like polyester or merino wool for a base layer. It helps to keep sweat away from the skin, preventing discomfort and potential chill.
- Insulating Layer: An insulating layer helps keep your child warmer by providing an added layer of warmth underneath the waterproof shell. A sweater made of fleece, down, or synthetic materials makes for a good option.
- Outer Layer (Waterproof Shell): This layer should help to protect against wind, rain, and snow. It should be both waterproof and breathable. Look for materials like Gore-Tex or similar fabrics.
Protecting Extremities From Winter Weather
Don’t forget about protecting your child’s extremities like their ears, hands, and feet. These are important for a kid to keep warm when it’s time to go outside and are easy to forget about. Parents should ensure children have a warm hat that keeps the ears protected and slows the release of heat from the head. Especially consider a hat with a facemask as it is preferable to a scarf. Don’t forget to send your child with mittens. Mittens are preferable to gloves because they not only help to protect the hands but they’re much easier to get on and off for preschool children than gloves. Last but certainly not least, it is important to have a pair of insulated, waterproof boots that fit well but have enough room for growth. These will help keep your child’s feet warm and dry while they’re out in the cold and or snow.
Overall Comfort and Safety
Kids play hard so it is important their winter clothing not only keep them comfortably warm but also be comfortable. When your child is outside running around and playing you want to make sure they’re not only warm but able to move freely and easily. Not only is keeping your child safe against the chills paramount, but it is also a good idea when choosing winter clothing to consider getting clothes in bright colors or with reflective elements. Bright colors or reflective material can make your child easier to spot when visibility is limited due to falling snow.
How to Clothe Your Child for Cold Weather When They’re at Child Care
At Early Advantage, your child will get dressed to go outside twice daily. This is an amazing time to teach dressing skills, but we also want the whole process to go as smoothly as possible.
Our teachers and staff are superheroes during this time and do their best to get the children dressed and outside as fast as possible to prevent overheating. Having the correct supplies that are easy to use is helpful in accomplishing this.
Have your child try on all their winter gear at home before you bring it to school for the first time of the season.
Make sure it fits well, and help your child understand how to put each item on. Sometimes, for our young toddlers, this is a very new experience and they are not sure what to think. Having a test run or two helps little ones feel more comfortable dressing for winter play. An important skill we work on with our toddlers is keeping their mittens on. To help us with this, we encourage parents to make sure their child has well-fitting mittens that do not come off too easily.
Label all of your child’s outdoor clothing.
As mentioned above, depending on the child’s age, we teach children the skills of putting on and taking off their outside items independently with help as needed. This means there can be many winter items in our hallways at any time. Oftentimes there are multiples of the same item for different children. Having your child’s items marked with easy-to-read labels can be extremely helpful in keeping the correct items with the correct student.
Here at Early Advantage, we encourage parents to use Mabel’s Labels.
They’re easy to use and come in a variety of options for everything your child may use. Parents who use our link can not only purchase their items, but every item bought helps to support Early Advantage.
If you’re wondering where to put your child’s labels, it is always best to place each label on all of your child’s winter items including both the right and left mitten as well as their boots.
Teaching children the order in which they should put items on.
- Snow pants
(For toddlers, we sometimes do mittens before the coat so the mittens are tucked into the coat sleeve.)
When purchasing winter gear, for children, keep in mind they will be using these items often. Getting quality winter items may be worth it to ensure your child has durable, warm clothing that lasts for the duration of the winter season.
Nobody likes it when halfway through winter you have to replace certain items. Whenever possible it is great if you can provide a full set of outdoor gear that can stay right at school. This helps ensure your child will have what they need every day. It is a great practice to take these items home on Friday at pick-up time so you can launder them. Just remember to bring them back on Monday!
As Your Child Care Provider, Let’s Get Your Kids Outside:
Top Tips for When Your Child Plays Outside
Car Coat or Poncho
This should be a lighter jacket that the child can wear to and from the center while in their car seat.
These can be hard to find and oftentimes need to be ordered online.
Snowsuits that Your Child Can Wear Boots With
No infant style with the booties. The age of children we take outside during the winter are 16 months and older and they will be required to wear boots while exploring in the snow
Jacket or Snowsuit with A Hood
On those really cold or windy days it can be helpful to have this extra protection. Hoods should not be used in place of a well-fitting hat but can be a nice extra
Snow pants with elastic bands at the bottom of the legs
Helps keep the snow out
Mittens not gloves
Gloves can be quite tricky for young children. Mittens that allow them to move their thumbs tend to be the most practical choice. If your child does bring gloves, it is important for them to be able to put them on and take them off independently.
Mittens of different warmth
Thin for slightly cold days and heavy duty for snow play
Mittens with extra-long forearms
To tuck under or over their coat sleeves to help keep the snow out
These help keep your child’s mittens attached to their coat/snowsuit. For little ones that try to pull the clips off you can even get long clips that go through their jacket.
Warm waterproof boots
These should be tall enough to help keep the snow out and once it gets sloshy outside will help keep the water out of the boot
A Hat that Is Warm and Fully Covers the Child’s Ears
Be careful to not get a hat that is too small or that does not have ear flaps – hats like that can be ineffective in keeping your child’s ears warm while they are moving all around outside. Your child may even enjoy a hat with a built-in face mask. This is preferred to scarfs which are just one more item to get on and care for and they can be challenging for some students to keep on and to be safe with. If you do provide a hat with a built-in face mask please also provide an additional hat without the face mask for days that are not as cold, or find one that gives the option to have the face mask on or off. For the little toddlers, we definitely recommend getting a hat that attaches under the child’s chin.
Jacket or Snowsuit with Quality Zippers
Children in early childhood are just learning how to zip (and how to keep other items out of the way of the zipper) if they have a zipper that does not work or is tricky to get started this can discourage them from the independence we are trying to teach them.
Make Sure All Items Fit Well and Stay in Good Repair Throughout the Winter Season.
It can already be challenging for these little ones to wander around in the snow all bundled up but if their boots are too big it can become downright frustrating for them. If their boots are too small they have a really hard time getting them on and end up not liking going outside because they know they have to squeeze into their small boots. The correct size of all these items makes a big difference.
We most often see size issues with our toddlers. They grow fast and can really range in size. We recommend trying items on before purchasing if possible and if you get a little big for room to grow make sure you are not going too big.
If you do have a younger toddler that struggles with keeping their mittens on you could look at getting an option that has a fold-over mitten. We do not recommend this unless it is really necessary because it does limit the children’s ability to use their hands while outside. However, it can be a helpful tool for the first season of winter outdoor play for those little ones who just can not keep their mittens on.
Note: if the snowsuit has the booties or the hand covers like pictured make sure that they are foldable like this so the child can still use boots and mittens.
When the snow starts melting or we have a small warm-up throughout winter keep in mind that your child is going to get wet when playing outside.
It is a good idea to ensure your child has extra socks and dry season-appropriate clothes at the school in case the moisture goes through their outdoor gear and gets their regular clothing wet. It is also a great idea to provide at least two pairs of gloves when the weather is still cold outside but it is wet. As we mentioned earlier, we go outside twice a day and if your child’s mittens get soaked during morning outside time it is no fun having to put on wet mittens for the afternoon outside time. During times like this, it is also important to check your child’s outdoor gear every evening at pickup to see if it should be taken home to clean and/or dry. Encourage your child to hang their wet items inside their cubby and not shove them into a backpack. We try our best to help the students lay out their items in their cubbies so they have the best chance of drying.
Make sure you bring appropriate outdoor gear before it is needed. Sometimes the cold days spring up on us and many of the children do not have appropriate clothing to go outside. Early advantage does have some extra outdoor clothing but not nearly enough for everyone and your child’s own outdoor gear is going to suit them best. Keep in mind your child will go outside twice a day (weather permitting) whether you provide them with the right gear or not so please plan ahead.
At the end of the winter season if you know your child will not be able to use the winter items again next year because they just keep on growing you are welcome to donate to Early Advantage so we can continue to have extra snow gear when needed.
If you’re not sure where to head to get high-quality winter gear for your little one we would suggest taking a look at Carter’s or Land’s End. These both have items that will outlast the winter even with heavy usage and they typically run pretty good sales. For boots we have found Stride Rite has great quality children’s shoes/boots – just shop early because styles and sizes get picked over pretty early.
Winter clothing can be expensive. If you are struggling to afford the necessary winter gear for your child please let us know. We will try to get you to the right resource that can help or we might have something that will work for your child to use for the winter season. When we get donations from other families those items can also be used for families in need.