Dressing kids for winter isn’t hard; you just need the right things to keep them warm and comfortable while they are outside. Besides knowing how to pack for a family ski trip, we have created this guide with our best tips for dressing your kids like a pro this season. We promise it will keep them warm from head to toe because the bottom line is, the warmer your kids are, the happier and longer they will stay outside and play!
Ultimately the key to dressing your kids for winter is layering. It is easy to add or remove layers to adjust to the weather or temperature. This enables your kids to keep doing what they do best — having fun in the great outdoors.
A base layer wicks moisture away from the skin to keep kids dry. Synthetic fabrics like polyester (fleece) or natural fabrics like wool or silk are better than cotton. Mama Sarah recommends this Burton fleece base layer for toddlers. She says, “these are pretty epic as well as super cozy and warm.” Her son wore them all last year and never complained about being cold. They do double duty as PJs as well. He likes to wear them to sleep sometimes on chilly nights.
Mid or Insulation Layer
A fleece jacket or vest works well as an insulation layer to keep in the heat that little bodies make. Babies will stay cozy in a fleece onesie. This one from Burton even has flip over mittens and booties to keep their extremities warm.
For spring skiing or milder days, a shell layer will help keep out wind and rain. Look for softshell jackets that are water and wind-resistant. They can be worn alone or with a base or mid-layer, depending on the conditions.
Jackets, snow pants, bibs, and one-piece snowsuits should all be windproof and waterproof. Investing in quality gear isn’t cheap and at the rate that kids grow, you want these items to last as long as possible. Many Burton toddler and kid’s jackets include the room-to-grow system, which extends the sleeves’ length by 1.5 inches!
Good insulated, waterproof boots are a crucial component to dressing kids for winter activities. In addition to comfort, you’ll want to consider warmth, weight, and slip-resistant traction. Look for winter boots that have sealed seams and waterproof rubber soles. For younger kids, pull-on or zip-up boots will be easier to pop on versus ones that lace up. If you are worried about the snow getting in, look for velcro or bungee-cord closures.
Mittens & Gloves
Keeping fingers warm and dry is just as important as toes. Mittens tend to be warmer than gloves because when the fingers are not separated by fabric, they will generate a bit more heat. For little ones, we love the Burton Warmest Mittens. They are waterproof and insulated, plus they have a long cuff and have a velcro strap to pull them tight around the wrist. Fo older kids who want more dexterity, check out Rossignol gloves, which are reinforced for an excellent ski-pole grip.
Mama Tip: Avoid buying black mittens. Instead, pick a color or pattern. This makes it easier to identify them in the lost and found bin or if they are dropped on the mountain.
Neck Warmers, Balaclavas & Helmet Hoods.
No one wants frostbite. It is essential to protect the epidermis on the face. Skida makes cozy neckwarmers that are lined with Polartec® micro-fleece. They come in fun prints and colors.
Balaclavas offer more coverage for the face. Burton takes it one step further and makes a hooded balaclava that goes over the helmet and offers total protection from the elements.
Experts say you can lose up to 7-10% of body heat through your head. To keep little noggins warm, look for a trapper-style winter hat with a fleece lining and a velcro closure, so they don’t yank it off their head.
We always keep a stash of disposable heat warmers in our ski bags. They are cheap and lightweight. Electronic hand warmers are reusable and better for the environment but are more expensive.
Mama Tip: Who says they are just for hands? Sometimes we’ve been known to put them in the back pockets of our ski pants to keep our bums warm on the chairlift.
Dana is a freelance journalist and digital influencer living in Vermont. She is the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. Through her original photography and writing, she provides authentic destination information, reviews, and travel tips. Dana specializes in cruise, luxury, food & wine, and adventure travel. Her work has been featured in CNN Travel, Porthole Magazine, Thrillist, Yankee Magazine, the Forbes Travel Guide, and several other print and digital publications. Dana is also the Founder of FindandGoSeek — a hyperlocal destination for families to discover what to see and do in Vermont.