How should I dress my baby when it’s cold outside? This is a question I get asked a lot. So often, in fact, that I figured the answer needed its very own post. I figure after raising five babies in the Great White North or Canada, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, However, before jumping in to the “how-to” portion of this post, I want to reassure parents, caregivers and grandparents that it is safe for babies to go outside in cold winter weather. Yes, babies can go outside even when it’s -20°C (-4°F) or colder, as long as baby is dressed appropriately and monitored on a regular basis.
Quick backstory: I was raised in the northern interior of British Columbia, Canada where winter was often very cold. My parents brought me and my siblings outside all winter long, even as babies, and it was only deemed too cold when the thermometer dips to -35°C (-31°F).
In this post I will go over how to dress your baby for cold winter weather. I’ll cover base layers, middle layers, outer layers and accessories that will help keep your baby cozy warm so you can get outside and breathe in that crisp wintry air.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links for Mountain Equipment Company (MEC), Patagonia and Amazon. As an associate of these companies I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support.
What’s all the hype about base layers? Are they really necessary? The short answer: It depends. If it’s really chilly outside, then yes, I highly recommend wrapping your baby in base layers. The base layer is the layer of clothing that sits next to your baby’s delicate skin. It helps to wick moisture away and keep your baby warm.
Typically base layers are made of natural fibers (wool, bamboo, merino), synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon, spandex) or a blend of both. There are pros and cons to each. Generally speaking, however, as long as you avoid cotton, which holds moisture, any base layers will do. I’ve included a diagram below to give you a breakdown of the different types of base layers on the market.
Over the years, I’ve used a variety of base layers types and brands for my babies. This winter my baby (baby number five!) is using the Reima Trivsam Thermal Set. These base layers are a blend of wool, bamboo viscose and nylon and I’m loving them. I’ve primarily used merino base layers in the past, and they are lovely. The downside to the more expensive merino base layers is that babies grow out of them so quickly! On the plus side, I regularly come across gently used merino base layers at thrift and consignment stores.
After the base layers comes the mid layers, also known as middle layers or insulating layers. These layers provide insulation for your baby which is important in freezing temperature. Babies aren’t able to regulate their body heat well and they don’t move around as much as we do, so the middle insulating layers are key to a cozy warm baby.
Compared to base layers, there are many options when it to comes finding insulating layers for babies. A fleece bunting, wool sweater and pants, polaralls, fleece hoodie… One great tip is to use a fleece pajama! You can find fleece pjs for a few dollars at thrift and consignment stores. Typically, I use fleece for mid layers because it’s easy to wash and wears well. I also use fleece layers on their own in the fall and spring which is great.
The outer layer, also known as the shell, is effectively the snowsuit. This layer keeps the wind, wet and snow away while adding a final cozy layer around your baby. There are plenty of snowsuit options available for babies. If you’re on a budget I recommend looking for something at your local thrift or consignment store. Since babies outgrow their snowsuits quickly there is no shortage of gently used baby snowsuits on the used market.
If, however, you want something new, or grandma or grandpa wants to gift your baby a new snowsuit here are some brands and suit that I and other parents recommend:
Columbia Snuggly Bunny Bunting
You’re almost good to go! The last final items you will need to keep your baby nice and warm are mitts, booties, toque (hat) and/or balaclava and neck warmer. There are lots and lots of options when it comes to accessories but here are a few tips.
- Before buying new, check your local consignment, thrift store or online used market. Baby mitts, hats and such often get minimal use before baby outgrows them. I often see big bins of these items for sale at the second hand shops in my city.
- Don’t pull your baby’s mitts through the arm holes of their snowsuit. Keeping their hands and mitts in the sleeves of the snowsuit keeps them warmer.
- Consider getting some Stonz booties instead of hard soled boots. These are easier to put on and keep those toes warmer,
- A baby balaclava works great for babies that don’t like hats because they can’t pull it off easily.
- Use footwarmers on the outside of leather booties (not directly against baby’s bare or socked foot) it it’s extra cold outside.
And that’s a cozy wrap! Did I miss something? Do you have a favourite brand you’d like to share? Feel free to post in the comment section below.