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Every winter, parents struggle with how to keep their kids warm in the winter. As a parent, I understand the fear of your child getting cold. We always want to keep them warm and snuggly and unfortunately, that sometimes leads to parents not allowing their children to go outside at all during the winter months. But kids need to go outside in all kinds of weather. Here in Minnesota, we believe that there isn’t bad weather, only bad clothing. But what should you look for in kids winter clothes? And how do you get your kids to keep them on? Well, as a Minnesota mama, I feel like I have some great recommendations for kids winter clothes, some tips about getting them on and keeping them on, and my #1 trick for winter success.
(P.S. Make sure you listen to my podcast about surviving winter outdoors with children. It is at the end of this post!)
I will go ahead and assume everyone knows to buy warm jackets and snow pants, but mittens and boots are a bit trickier. Kids will come to school with mittens or boots that are not warm enough or that, while super cute, are totally non-functional.
After spending four years working in a toddler room, I have found the answer to the mittens and boots conundrum. (Okay, I guess I should credit my amazing co-worker who had tried every sort of mitten and boot under the sun in the 20+ years she spent working with toddlers.) I bought each of these for Mac and they work splendidly.
As for mittens, there is a company called L-Bow that make mittens that extend all the way to the child’s elbow. They are supposed to be used over the coat sleeves, but in the toddler room, we found it much more useful to put them on under coat sleeves. That way children can’t pull them right off. The other great thing about these mittens is that the toddler sized ones don’t have specific hands that they go on. The thumb hole is in the center and can be used on either hand. So great when you are in a rush to get them out the door to go play.
There are lots of good boots, but one I can personally vouch for are Bogs. The toddler Bogs have big handles that are easy for toddlers to get on themselves. They come in tons of cute styles, but are still warm and comfy. Bogs are so durable that they will be sure to last all winter. The ones we bought for Mac are teal with penguins. Even though she was the one to pick them out, I love that she picked gender neutral ones that will also be worn by any future children.
Okay, so once you buy good kids winter clothes, how do you get them to keep them on? I don’t mean getting elementary aged kids to wear it when they don’t want to, I mean how to get toddlers who don’t know better from ripping off all of their winter gear as soon as they get outside?
The secret to my outdoor success is something so simple that each and every one of you probably have at least a few at home. My trick is using plain old safety pins. I use them to keep on coats, mittens, and even boots!
Hats are a tricky one. You can’t glue it on, so what else can you do? The best thing I have found is to find a hat they like. Mac was a winter baby, so we had people give us tons of different winter hats. Nowadays, we let her pick which hat to wear outside. Most of the time, she keeps it on without any trouble. (For real, giving toddlers (limited) choices will save you from so many fights. If you’d like to learn more about giving a toddler choices, check out my ebook about the best way to give a toddler choices.)
Sometimes it is about the style of hat also. If the hat has velcro for under the chin, make sure it actually fits under the chin. If it is too big, the hat will tend to fall over there face and if the velcro straps are too small, it will be uncomfortable.
Once kids learn to unzip, they will want to unzip everything, including their jacket. So if your child keeps unzipping their jacket, use a safety pin to stop them. Just pin over the zipper right at the top of the jacket and the child won’t be able to open it up.
The biggest way to get kids to keep boots on is to make sure they fit properly. When you buy boots, don’t have the child just try them on, have them try them on with snow pants and walk around a bit. Sometimes the wrong combination of boots and snow pants can push on each other, which means the boots will pop off.
Some boots can also be safety pinned to the child’s pants legs. This works more for softer winter boots for younger children.
Sometimes getting a child to keep their mittens on is a learning experience. That means if it isn’t that cold outside, let your child experience how cold their hands get without mittens. Most children will eventually get the idea that mittens will warm their hands up and that it is much more pleasant to keep them on.
Obviously, sometimes it is too cold to let your child take their mittens off. In that case, safety pins come to the rescue again. With the L-Bow mittens on, we would pin them to the child’s shirt before putting their jacket on. It isn’t foolproof, but sometimes you just need an obstacle.
Sometimes, getting kids outside isn’t a matter of getting the right clothes, but of actually getting them on without tears for the kids or mom. So how do you wrestle kids into their winter gear and keep everyone smiling?
I’m all about kids doing things for themselves. Even toddlers can get themselves dressed in their winter clothes, it just may take some extra time and coaching. Snow pants are pretty easy as long as they are laid out for toddlers. I’ve found most toddlers can get on at least one of their L-Bow mittens. Some boots are easy to step in.
I’ve also written about doing up-and-over with a toddler’s coat. Even with mittens on, toddlers can manage to put on their own jacket. The more things your child does, the less you will have to do.
The absolute easiest way to put mittens on a toddler is to have them stand in front of you, facing the same direction you are. That way you can pull the mitten on while they push, which means you are working together instead of against each other, like mittens normally are. I even use this with the 3-6 year olds I work with because it is just so much easier!
Toddlers don’t care if their thumbs are in the thumb holes of their mittens. Until they get to the point where they do care, don’t stress yourself out trying to get it on their hand perfectly. Take a look at the picture below. Mac could care less that her thumbs aren’t in the holes. She has even figured out how to pick up snow without her thumbs. The same goes for boots. If your kid puts their boots on the wrong feet, why switch them? It won’t stop them from being warm or having fun, so just let it go.
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