Little kids and snow: the essentials.

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About Nish

Nish Weiseth is a dreamer, schemer, believer, trouble-maker, rabble-rouser, and the founder of A Deeper Story, a community of misfit believers and storytellers. Nish and her husband, Erik, are outdoor enthusiasts living in the Rogue River valley of southern Oregon in the summers, and the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the winters. They have two children, Rowan and Scout.

snow_field

I‘ve had snow in my yard since before Christmas.

Crazy, right? I know. Between the intermittent snow storms that keep rolling in, the inversion, and the cold temperatures, the snow around here hasn’t melted in months. We’ve had a couple of warm streaks here and there, but nothing long-lasting enough to make it go away.

It makes going outside a bit of a production. Snow boots, waterproof insulated pants, gloves, hat, warm coats… it’s a lot, especially just to go outside for a quick play session in the middle of the day.

I don’t really mind all that much, but when I need to take my newborn along, it’s a lot to do. I’m a fan of making things as easy and simple as I can, especially where my kids are concerned. Less fuss, the better.

But kids take a lot of effort and the snow requires a lot of gear – and when it comes to gear, what are the best and most important pieces to have, especially for kids under five?

I’ve been asked what my favorite essentials are for taking little ones out into the snow, and I thought I’d share them here. I’ll order them from bottom to top layer.

child_snow

1. Non-cotton long underwear & socks.

 
You won’t always need this, but if it’s really cold out, you’ll need these for keeping your kid warm. The important thing to note about long underwear is, it should NEVER be cotton. If cotton gets cold or wet, it will actually keep you cold and wet.

You’ll want something that’s more effective in wicking moisture away from the skin and keeping you warm. I’m a fan of merino wool for long underwear, but any synthetic under layer will work well, too.

2. A one-piece snowsuit (for toddlers) or insulated snow pants & jacket.

 
Now that Rowan is a bit older, we use pants and a jacket, but when your child is still a toddler and you don’t have to worry about potty training, a one-piece suit is the way to go.

Make sure whatever you put on your child is insulated. Shells aren’t warm enough unless you add another layer or two underneath – and extra layers on children, while keeping them warm, restricts movement and makes it harder for them to run and be active.

There’s differing opinions on the best method, but for just basic play time outside, I think maximum warmth with minimum layers is the easiest for small kids. (I would opt for multiple thinner layers for older kids participating in snow activities – skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.)

3. Snow boots with a drawstring top.

These are a must, especially if you’re going to be in snow deeper than four inches. When they’re not in snow pants or a snow suit that covers the boots, the drawstring top keeps snow from coming in over the boot, protecting your child’s ankles and feet from the cold.

4. Waterproof, fleece-lined gloves or mittens.

We prefer the mittens (because it’s still difficult for Rowan to get his individual fingers into gloves), but either will do. It’s hard to roll snowballs with bare hands. Warm hands are happy hands!

5. A warm, knit hat.

Fleece-lined is even better, and a hat that covers little ears is the best. Keeping your child’s head warm can actually help prevent cold-weather illness, and generally keep your little person happy in the cold. It’s also important to protect their head and hair from incoming snowballs.

6. An extra large ice cream scoop.

  Pretty much the best snowball maker ever.

What do you think? What are some of your winter must-haves for kids?

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Comments

  1. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

  2. Ice cream scoop = genius. My kids will love me forever now. Thanks, Nish.

  3. I bought a vintage Swiss Davos sled at a flea market last year, then got an old toddlers bike seat cut the leg holders off and screwed it on top. Instead of managing a few hundred yards on a plastic sled I can take my two year boy for miles now, he’s so comfortable and happy. Good gloves that stay on and a one piece are essential. Something hot in a flash for a long trip too
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  4. My five year old son spends two days a week at a forest school (has done since he was three). The kids are out in the woods no matter what the weather. No indoor time (there are no buildings). They wear lots of layers! Merino underwear and a couple of layers of thin fleece tops and trousers, padded jacket in winter and waterproof trousers – and the key item – neoprene wellies! Keeps toes toasty. Also, two pairs of magic gloves keep fingers warm, even when wet. We’re in Scotland – so usually have snow in January and February and possible below zero temps from December through March. But the temperature does change – so layers means the kids can easily take off / put on as needed!

  5. In Denmark, our kids go outside to play for 2 hours every day at preschool/school, no matter the weather, so we need to be well prepared. Our essentials are a one-piece insulated suit (even our almost 6 year old wears one) as there are no gaps for the snow or wind to get in to (we have a high wind chill factor). Wool is the best insulator, so they have thick woollen socks (to go over their normal ones), and our toddler has woollen long johns (it’s not really cold enough here for the bigger kids to wear them). Add insulated boots and gloves, and we’re keeping all the extremities toasty warm :) The kids also wear a balaclava style hat, which keeps the ears and neck warm. That way they can play outside for hours and not get cold. I usually make sure everyone has been to the bathroom before we get suited up!

    Your post is really helpful. I moved to Scandinavia 11 years ago from Australia, so I had no idea at all how to keep warm in extremely cold temperatures. I had to learn along the way! :)

  6. When my kids were little I loved the mittens that had a string to keep them attached. That way they were always with their coat which made them hard to loose. I also loved hats that had ear flaps to keep the bottom of their entire ears warm.
    Victoria´s latest post: Daily Life Captured: February 2013

  7. Kid sized sized shovels! We have one per kids and they have a blast with them. Sometimes “helping” us shovel the driveway, but usually just shoveling giant piles and walls for forts. We love playing in the snow, makes winter feel shorter when you play outdoors more often!
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  8. Perfect timing, Nish! I’m new to the cold (recently moved north from Texas) and sometimes minimalist to a fault, so my poor kids are probably needing some better snow gear. I like your suggestions! What’s hard for me is knowing what to get for the almost-walker–because buying boots that he’ll outgrow after 5 uses feels crazy. Maybe I just need to be intentional to stock up at garage sales in the summer.
    My fav winter hats for little ones are these: http://www.hannaandersson.com/Style.asp?styleId=21022&grpng=&from=MS|PD22006|Y|&simg=21022_33N

    PS, my “almost walker” is named Rowan. Don’t see that too often. Good choice, Momma. :)
    Jenn @ A Simple Haven´s latest post: Use Your Fancy Stuff

  9. Perfect timing, Nish! I’m new to the cold (just moved north from Texas) and can be minimalistic to a fault, so my poor kids probably need better snow gear. I like your suggestions! The hard thing for me is knowing what to get for an almost-walker, because buying boots they’ll outgrown before next season and can hardly walk in now seems crazy. Maybe I should just stock up at garage sales in the summer!
    My fav winter hats for wee ones are these: http://www.hannaandersson.com/Style.asp?styleId=21022&grpng=&from=MS|PD22006|Y|&simg=21022_33N
    PS, my “almost walker” is also named Rowan. Don’t see that too often. Good choice, Momma :).
    Jenn @ A Simple Haven´s latest post: Use Your Fancy Stuff

  10. We live in Calgary where the winter is long and cold. The temperature can drop to -36 and stay there for a week. This year we have had snow on the ground since October 3rd and the school only keeps the kids indoors if it drops below -17C. So we have done a bit of adjusting to get the warm gear just right. Mittens are better than gloves even after they learn to put their fingers in the right places because the fingers will stay warmer if they are next to each other instead of separated by fabric. Definitely put them in non-cotton long johns and undershirts and socks. instead of a scarf, we find a one-piece neck warmer or cowl works best to stay in the neck or be pulled up to warm the chin and mouth. WE get cold wind here and ear warmers are great especially the kind that are fuzzy fabric that go around the back of the head and over the ears. And of course, a nice mug of hot chocolate when they come inside!

  11. Perfect timing, Nish! I’m new to the cold (just moved north from Texas) and can be minimalistic to a fault, so my poor kids probably need better snow gear. I like your suggestions! The hard thing for me is knowing what to get for an almost-walker, because buying boots they’ll outgrown before next season and can hardly walk in now seems crazy. Maybe I should just stock up at garage sales in the summer!
    My fav winter hats for wee ones are these: http://www.hannaandersson.com/Style.asp?styleId=21022&grpng=&from=MS|PD22006|Y|&simg=21022_33N
    PS, my “almost walker” is also named Rowan. Don’t see that too often! Good choice, Momma :).

  12. I live in Tucson and it actually snowed here for the first time in forever! I will have to keep in mind an ice cream scooper the next time it snows.(which may be another 5 years away)
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  13. Great tips! I’ve tried all kinds of high-tech fabrics for staying warm – and nothing beats wool, esp. merino wool. I was so thrilled to find little kids’ merino wool socks made by Woolrich when our kids were little.
    Another tip – make sure they’re warmed up before you head outside – keep the house a little warmer, drink some tea. It makes such a difference to start warm.
    Finally – wrapping a scarf or mask across the face makes a HUGE difference in body temp. Instead of losing all that heat when you breathe out you retain it and it warms the air coming in.
    Oh yeah – love snowshoes for kids for longer trekking. See below!
    Sarah @ Fit Family Together´s latest post: Snowshoe And Enjoy The Deep Snow!

  14. My husband made the kids a picture chart showing what goes on first, second, etc so now our 3 year old can get himself ready to go out in the snow without help. Its no fun when someone puts their boots on first and then tries to get a snowsuit or snowpants over the top. This picture list has saved us alot of frustration this winter. Hopefully the 2 year old wil follow it soon!

  15. Any idea where I can find waterproof mittens for very small hands? I haven’t had any luck in my 2 years in the north and her hands are always wet and freezing.

  16. I think that warm boots and mittens are the most important. If your feet and hands are cold and wet it’s miserable! My kids love to take a plastic sled down the slide on our swingset. So much fun and giggling, probably fun because it’s dangerous and I have to cover my eyes sometimes! :)

  17. avatar
    jessica says:

    We had something called a no snow snuggler, which i won on a blog. But it seems they no longer make it. It was similar to these mittens, but had a jacket part. I bet you could make gloves like these I found on Amazon by simply sewing socks onto the end of mittens.
    http://www.amazon.com/SnowStoppers-Nylon-Snow-Mittens-Medium/dp/B004D26REY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1362167272&sr=8-2&keywords=no+snow+snuggler

  18. This is a great list! Especially the tip about boots.
    We’ve had a lot of really successful (meaning low stress) snow play this year, but we have trouble getting back in the house without total melt down from just about all of us. I’ve started leaving water bottles and snacks, bananas and even m and ms, in the mud room so we can eat while getting undressed.

  19. One of the downfalls, if you can call it that, of living in southern California: we never get snow! At least not in the way that you guys do, e.g. on a daily basis. I always feel like a wuss when I talk about how ‘cold’ it is when it’s 65 degrees out and I have to put a jacket on my three year old haha.
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  20. That is quite the endeavor to go through! I’m so glad we don’t have a bunch of snow in TN.
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  21. I highly recommend good quality boots. When I was a little girl, I got a tiny cut in my boot and ended up with a mild bit of frost bite. The snow was so deep my daddy had to do the first aid himself. He melted my foot slowly first with ice and at the end a hair dryer on low. I just remember white hot pain. My foot eventually healed pretty well, but o man, I will never forget the pain.
    Pam´s latest post: Organized Pantry- Before and After Shots

  22. Great timing, Nish! I’m new to the cold (just moved north from Texas) and can be minimalistic to a fault, so my poor kids probably need better snow gear. I like your suggestions! The hard thing for me is knowing what to get for an almost-walker, because buying boots they’ll outgrown before next season and can hardly walk in now seems crazy. Maybe I should just stock up at garage sales in the summer!
    My fav winter hats for wee ones are these: http://www.hannaandersson.com/Style.asp?styleId=21022&grpng=&from=MS|PD22006|Y|&simg=21022_33N
    PS, my “almost walker” is also named Rowan. Don’t see that too often! Good choice, Momma :).
    Jenn @ A Simple Haven´s latest post: A Button and a Motto

  23. We’ve lived in eastern Washington state for two winters now from southern Texas. I also have a 2.5 year old. The things I require for winter wear include: good boots with the molded rubber toes (I really dislike the toggle topped ones and opt for the wrap around velcro closure but my little one isn’t wading through multi feet of snow because he literally can’t,) tall socks (boots can rub little ankles and it helps keep the legs a bit warmer,) two piece snow suit (snow pants with a bib for really littles help keep them warmer,) good gloves (we have ones that are full sleeve and go on before the jacket, which prevents snow from sneaking in and also from them being taken off,) a hat that covers the ear (we have a variety that includes homemade knitted wool ones,) cowl (on really windy, cold days they help keep his chin and lower face warm without the bulk of a scarf put on over the jacket,) a sled (great for pulling a little one to the mail box or out for a walk when it’s too snowy for a stroller.) And just as important, appropriate snow gear for yourself because a warm mama will play longer and more willingly outside. Also, don’t forget the water bottles when you go out to play.

  24. I never found it too much hassle with my three in chilly winter Switzerland, where we spent a lot of time in the mountains.
    In winter, they wore fine wool onesies or undershirts with long sleeves and an envelope-neck. A cotton turtle-neck and tights. This was standard for boys and girls around here all winter. In older and colder houses they might wear leather-soled sock-slippers, or at kindergarten but usually homes are well heated and insulated.
    To go outdoors, a balaclava hat and a one-piece snowsuit and moonboots. Waterproof mittens on a string.
    The snowsuits had a high collar so that over the turtleneck and wool balaclava they didn’t need scarves or extra ear protection. The moonboots were easy to slip into and out of and very warm and waterproof.
    Here in Switzerland, that was all they needed – they were always active and warm. I guess if it was bitingly cold or high wind chill a wool ski sweater and wool socks give an additional layer.

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