How to Best Dress Your Kids for Winter Play

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Written by Play Practitioner Caileigh Flannigan

For you and your child to have a great time in the cold weather, the most important thing to consider is appropriate clothing. Here are some tips to make gearing up easier for you and your children.


Layers are really important for outdoor winter play. If you dress your child in layers, their body heat stays close to them and they are able to play for long periods of time. Also, layers are easy to add or take off as needed, depending on the weather that day. To appropriately dress your child in layers, you will need: a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer.

A base layer such as a long polyester shirt wicks moisture away from the skin and keeps your child dry and warm for long periods of time. You want this layer to be snug to the body so that any moisture will be wicked away. The middle layer should be made of down or fleece material, as the purpose of this layer is to insulate the body. You want the middle layer to be close to the body, but make sure that it does not restrain movement. The outer layer should consist of a waterproof winter coat, as this layer protects your child from winter weather elements such as wind, rain, and snow. You want this layer to be loose enough to have at least two other layers under it.


Mittens are better for keeping children’s hands warm, as fingers generate more heat when they are not separated from each other as in gloves. Gloves are also important to include in your child’s dry pack because gloves allow better dexterity than mittens. Choose mittens that are waterproof and insulated with either down or a synthetic down.


It’s important to choose a hat that covers the whole head, including the ears. Children often do not enjoy wearing hats, so you may want to consider getting one that is childproof, such as one that has long strings to tie around the neck or tuck into a coat. Hats are also one of those items that can be very personalized and fun, so involve your child in the process of choosing their gear to ensure comfort and likeability.


You want snowpants that your child can move in, is warm, and, most importantly, is waterproof. Suspenders built into the snowpants will ensure that the pants stay secure and do not fall down during play. Some snowpants also have drawstrings at the bottom to tighten around boots.


A good children’s boot is one that is both warm and stays on during active winter play. You want a boot that is waterproof, is insulated with down or synthetic down, and has drawstrings at the top to ensure a close fit to the legs. This will prevent any water or snow from soaking in. Some boots also have velco fasterners over the top of the foot that you can tighten for extra protection. Don’t forget to choose a good pair of warm (non-cotton) socks for your child’s feet. Wool and down are great choices.

Other Gearing-Up Rules to Consider:

  • Try to avoid cotton as this material absorbs sweat. Wet cotton mixed with cold weather makes for cold kids!
  • Extremities such as ears, hands, and feet are more prone to cold-weather exposure. Be sure to get the appropriate gear for these areas.
  • Bring extra clothes that will keep your child dry and comfortable all day. The dry bag should consist of extra gloves, a scarf, pants, and a long shirt.

Let’s have a playful and positive attitude toward winter this season. It’s important to show your children that winter can be very fun. You can model various ways to fall in love with cold weather and snow – stomp your feet on ice patches, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, and be sure to engage in activities with your children. Take a breath of that cold winter air and remember that you are supporting your children’s health and happiness.

Categories: Activities, For Parents, Health And Safety