Temperatures are cooling, the leaves are changing on the trees and there is a sense of Fall in the air. Before long the trees will be bare, you’ll be able to see your breath in the cold air and white fluffy snow will be falling from the sky. After the tremendously hot summer we had here in Moab I am welcoming the cooler weather with open arms.
As winter approaches it’s time to evaluate your tykes winter clothing and make sure they are appropriately clothed for winter activities. Don’t make them hibernate with the bears. With proper attire they can continue to play outside and have fun.
Here are a some tips for appropriately clothing your tykes for outdoor winter fun:
1. NO cotton!
Cotton is a poor choice for cold weather activities due to its high thermal conductivity (rate of energy loss through a piece of material). Cotton allows the moisture to sit on your skin, in turn cooling you instead of keeping you warm.
Dress your tyke in clothing made of synthetic fibers (polyester blends, microfiber, coolmax, dri-fit) or merino wool. They have moisture wicking abilities that will keep the moisture off your tykes skin allowing them to stay comfortable and warm while playing in the cold weather. Merino wool is my number one choice as it allows the body to regulate it’s temperature. Dressing your tyke appropriately for cold weather activities will help prevent hypothermia.
2. Layer your tykes clothing.
- Base layer: This layer is going to be touching the skin. You want it to be soft, non-itchy, breathable and wick away moisture. Anything that allows moisture to rest on your tykes skin will leave them wet, cold and uncomfortable. Synthetic clothing (polyester blends, microfiber, coolmax, dri-fit) or merino wool is a good choice.
- Mid layer: This is the insulating layer that provides warmth. This layer can consist of wool, fleece, down or synthetics. Cotton is NOT recommended for this layer, either.
- Shell layer: This is the protective layer from wind, rain and snow. Ideally, you want it to be breathable, allowing perspiration to evaporate. You also want it to be wind and waterproof or at least, water resistant. This layer does not have to be big and bulky. Make sure it fits comfortably over your tykes other layers allowing for adequate moving and playing room. This protective layer can range from a thin rain coat to a soft shell or insulated protective jacket depending on the conditions.
3. Always wear a hat.
Make sure your tykes head is covered with a synthetic or merino wool hat. This will held keep them warm. Although most heat is not lost through the head (an old wives tale) some heat is lost since it is not covered up.
4. Proper footwear.
The NO cotton rule applies to socks, too. Cotton socks will not keep your tykes feet warm so make sure they are wearing wool or moisture wicking socks. I know my feet tend to get cold first before anything else on my body so I pay special attention to socks and shoes/boots. Make sure your tykes winter boots or shoes are waterproof. There’s nothing like soggy feet in the cold making for an uncomfortable grumpy tyke.
5. Gloves or Mittens.
If you want your tyke to have fun throwing snow balls, building snow forts or snowmen make sure they have suitable hand protection. Not all gloves and mittens are created equal. Mittens will tend to keep hands warmer since the fingers are close together but they limit functionality. Give your tykes gloves or mittens that are waterproof and have a good amount of insulation. If your tykes hands or feet get cold they are done for and won’t be comfortable out in the cold.
6. Don’t forget sunglasses!
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the shades. Sunglasses are just as important to wear during the winter months as they are for summer months. The sun reflecting off the snow can be very damaging to your tykes eyes, so if they don’t already have sunglasses make sure you get them a pair.
With appropriate clothing your tykes will be able to play year-round in the outdoors. Make sure you evaluate their clothes soon so that they are ready to head outside when the first snow falls.
How do you keep your tykes warm while they play in the outdoors in the cold winter months?