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Cold-Weather Dressing For Kids

Jul25

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesThis is the problem: ACK!  We have accepted a job in the great white north- probably no big deal for anyone else but dude!  EVERYWHERE is the great white north to me, we live on the Gulf Coast.  Heat I understand fully, but snow?  Well, crap.  I have seen white stuff falling from the sky a total of about  5 times in my entire life, two of which actually “stuck” and put no more than 4 inches on the ground, and it promptly melted before we got a snow man of more than a foot tall out of it. Around here we moan about how cold it is when it hits about 50 degrees or so, and even overnight lows are not that low, compared to the city which we will be in this winter.

I need to figure all of this out, but mostly I need to know how to dress my kids for this weather.  I have two girls, 4 and 1 respectively and need to know what to look for in coats (seriously, hoodies will do it for us most of the time, so the big one doesn’t really even own a COAT)  Do I get snowsuits?  Rubber boots? Mittens or gloves?  Layering? Tight undergarments? Cotton?

The internet is failing me, mostly I am just confused about all that it is telling me- plus I keep hearing that the cold isn’t that bad when you get up north, it feels DIFFERENT because of the HUMIDITY and blah.

K

Oh hey there! Greetings from the great white north! Where we are currently on day number 345 of a seemingly endless heat wave, with temperatures cracking 100 degrees almost every day. Where every day, I spend at least 20 minutes thanking the AC gods for NOT BEING PREGNANT ANYMORE.

And then, in about five months, it will be cold and snowing and blustery and my husband and I will look at each other and wonder why in the world we live in this city and not like, California. Or Jamaica. Or Oz.

The first thing you’ll learn about winter is that there’s dressing for the cold AND there’s dressing for snow. Two different things. And there’s even different LEVELS of dressing for snow — like, there’s dashing through the flakes on your way to your car, there’s playing in the snow, and then there’s going skiing and crazy stuff like that.

Dressing for the cold involves some layered regular clothing — so keep those hoodies and cardigans — and then your basic coat/hat/mittens combo. I don’t usually bother with scarves for my children, unless we knew we would be outside during like, a wind advisory and I wanted to protect their faces. (And then I go for neckwarmer/cowl styles that don’t pose a strangulation risk for getting caught on things or in car doors.)

Dressing for the snow involves the same stuff, but with more waterproofing. Also boots. I only bother with snowsuits and/or long underwear if the kids are going to be outside playing in the snow for an extended period of time, and even then, I sometimes opt for the “you must come inside and change/warm up after 20 minutes” take on snow play instead. Because I’m mean and lazy and have no patience for dealing with a snowsuit on a diaper-wearing or potty-training child…or even an older one, who I GUARANTEE YOU will have to go potty five minutes after you’ve bundled him up.

If you are going to be living in an area that does indeed get frequent snow storms, here’s what I recommend you look for in outerwear:

COATS: Go for waterproof or at least water-resistant. It can be tempting to buy something cute and stylish — like an adorable wool peacoat, for example — but that really won’t be practical in the wet or even the really, really cold. A ski style jacket with a HOOD will be your most versatile if you hope to only buy one coat — especially if you can find one that includes a zip-out fleece layer inside. (LOVE the fleece zip-ups, both with a coat and worn on their own.) I’ve bought perfectly decent coats at a ton of different places (and price points) over the years, from Columbia to Hanna Anderssen to TARGET, of all places. Ski and outdoorsy stores (REI, Columbia, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, etc.) will have the most hardcore, warm and waterproof options, but you’ll also pay a lot more. I can justify splurging on a nice coat for Noah because we can typically get two winters out of it, and then hold onto it as a hand-me-down for Ezra. (Who also gets hand-me-downs from his cousin. I’ve never actually had to buy him his own coat yet. Not sure what shape the coats will be in by the time Ike needs them, however.)

HATS: I like hats with fleece ear flaps, but it really mostly depends on what your kid likes and will tolerate wearing. Your kids might prefer earmuffs, or those fleece headband/ear-warmer things that don’t mess up their hair. Noah refused to wear hats of any kind for awhile, save for one goofy knitted tiger hat we found at the grocery store. He loved that hat. He wore it for at least three winters. Now he’ll put on whatever I hand him at the door, which currently is a very thought-out selection of WHATEVER THE HELL FITS.

MITTENS: I’d say your kids are still firmly in the “mitten” age range, as getting all those little fingers into gloves will likely take forever and make you hate your life. We go through a lot of mittens, honestly. They are always getting lost, no matter what great little tips and tricks I try (clips, stringing them through or attaching them to the coat sleeves, etc.). You might want a waterproof pair for your older daughter if she really enjoys playing in the snow or making snowballs…or you could simply buy a bunch of cheap pairs and have her swap her wet ones for a dry pair after she plays for awhile. For the one-year-old? Well, you can dream big and TRY to keep mittens on her, but it’s likely that unless you’re talking about mittens that fold over as part of her coat sleeves, you’re going to lose that battle. Practice your best stink-eye in the mirror in case of mommy-drive-bys over the lack of mittens, because pfffft.

BOOTS: You’ll quickly learn that there are two different kinds of boots: rubber galoshes and honest-to-God snow boots. The galoshes will be cute and brightly-colored and adorable, but they are RAIN BOOTS, and they are NOT WARM. You will need to pair them with very, very warm socks (or specially-designed welly socks) in the winter when it rains, and I don’t really recommend them for the snow or ice. They can be quite slippery to walk in, and the tops of the boots do nothing to keep snow from getting in. Then again, buying a new, dedicated pair of waterproof warm adjustable-drawstring-topped snow boots for kids every year can be very pricy, so it really, really depends on your region’s snowfall. Growing up in PA where it snowed frequently but not constantly, my mom would either track down some hand-me-down boots or send me out to play with plastic shopping bags rubber-banded over my shoes. Here in DC, I always THINK I’ll be able to get away without snow boots for my boys…until it snows a ton more than I was expecting. Then I buy boots that they wear once or twice and then it’s spring! And Ezra fits into the hand-me-down boots in the summer! And not winter! And *headdesk*

SNOWSUITS: Only really required if your kids are total snow bunnies who spend hours and hours on all fours in the snow. Long underwear or wool tights under pants are usually fine for short snowman-building expeditions in the backyard. Bring them in once they’re wet and pink-cheeked, strip them down and run a nice warm bath and serve hot chocolate. I cannot even tell you the number of gifted or hand-me-down snowsuits in various sizes that I have in a box in the basement. They have maaaaaaaybe been worn once or twice a winter. They’re just such a pain and take forever to get on, and my kids lose interest in the snow after 15 minutes and want back inside anyway.

Some kids will play for hours, though, and it’s that knowledge that keeps me hoarding all those snowsuits, because WHO KNOWS. Ike might be that kind of kid, or Ezra might change his mind this winter and NOT howl in misery the instant he senses he’s gotten a tad wet and chilly and God help me, I’ll have to BUY A SNOWSUIT.

GENERAL CLOTHING: Let the kids’ clothing stores be your guide. They’ll generally stock what you need for your particular climate. And usually the cold-weather stuff shows up in the summer and you’ll have time to let it hit the sale rack before you need to panic and buy your kids sweaters and long-sleeve shirts. Don’t overdress your kids — no matter how cold it is outside, they’ll be spending most of their time indoors in artificial heat, where it is too darn warm for say, flannel-lined jeans AND wool socks AND long sleeves AND a heavy sweater. And even out at the playground on a very chilly day, a kid can run the risk of overheating and getting sick if they’re running around like crazy and dressed for an expedition to the arctic. Layers of breathable fabrics are most definitely your friend.

Lastly, I would highly recommend you start building your kids’ warm-weather wardrobe by shopping at consignment stores, or via the online swapping site ThredUp.com. Coats and snowsuits and even boots tend to hold up very well, since they don’t always get a ton of heavy use before they’re outgrown. If you go with the ThredUp site, you can trade your daughters’ uber-warm-weather stuff for someone else’s cold-weather box. It might not contain everything you end up needing, but at least you’ll be able to NOT PANIC and feel slightly more prepared for the first day when the temperature drops to the 40s and you only have sundresses and hoodies.

And once you’re settled in your new home, totally try to befriend a mom with say, a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, and get yourself some awesome hand-me-down action going.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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29 Responses to “Cold-Weather Dressing For Kids”

  1. Crabby Apple Seed Jul 25 at 1:45 pm Reply Reply

    just one addition: snow PANTS. they’re infinitely easier to wrestle with than an actual full snow suit- in fact, when my daughter was newly 2yo last winter, she dropped right into them. Since we live in Chicago and she’s obsessed with playing outside, they’re a must for us.

    the rest is spot-on, though.

  2. “Do not open until December 25th.”

  3. Katie Jul 25 at 1:51 pm Reply Reply

    Depending on how far north the great white north is, you miiight need a snow suit or snow pants. I grew up on the Canadian prairies where snow pants were definitely necessary for walking to school/playing outside at recess. Now I live in relatively balmy southern Ontario, and my 1 yr old still needs something warm/water resistant on her legs to be outside for any length of time in the winter. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about buying stuff before you leave. There will probably be more climate-appropriate consignment clothes available at your destination, and you will be able to get a better sense of you outdoor needs – like whether your older daughter will be outside for school recesses and whether most of the kids wear snow gear or not. Good luck with your move and have fun!

  4. Jen Jul 25 at 1:55 pm Reply Reply

    I would disagree and say that a snow suit is a must but hen that may be a cultural difference. I live in northern Finland where even during winter (regular temperature is minus 30 celcius) kids spend 2-3 hours of their time at daycare outside and babies have their daytime naps outside.

  5. Margot Jul 25 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    I grew up in MN with this mantra: “Cotton is Rotten” because once it gets even a little damp it doesn’t insulate at all. Do not use cotton as a base layer. Start reading the labels and look for wool, silk, and synthetic blends. They are far better at keeping toes and bodies warm and will dry much more quickly when they get damp/sweaty. Leggings are awesome and very cute for little girls, I say stock up and wear in layers!! That way you can take their summer/fall skirts/dresses into winter too. 

  6. Olivia Jul 25 at 2:48 pm Reply Reply

    I found snow pants to be fairly easy to get on my 1.5 year old last winter, and I like that when she came inside off they came and she wasn’t overdressed for inside. 

  7. Sara Jul 25 at 3:02 pm Reply Reply

    We use mittens and gloves that go up to the elbow for both of my kids, they stay on and keep the hands and arms warm and dry – http://www.lbow.com/

  8. Julie Jul 25 at 3:24 pm Reply Reply

    I second the recommendation for snowpants rather than snowsuits. Snowpants paired with a coat is more likely to be able to fit longer if you have a long enough coat and adjustable straps on the snow pants to adjust for added height. And for sending to school, you can pack the snowpants for use on the playground and just have them wear the coat part on the bus. (Our school’s playground rule growing up in Maine was always only kids with snowpants could play in the snow – if you had regular pants you had to stay on the blacktop.)

    For myself I go even one step lighter and get lightly lined windbreaker pants – I can toss those on over my normal pants, and they’ll keep me warm and dry enough to get through a round of snow shoveling.

    For little kids, look for clothing that can be tucked in to avoid gaps – I ended up cutting off the foot of some of my old socks to put on over my toddlers mittens to close the gap between the mitten and the coat sleeve, for instance.

    And definitely look for used stuff – join mom’s clubs, look on craigslist, join freecycle, etc. Winter stuff doesn’t get too worn out, and takes up a lot of storage space, so folks are often happy to hand it down or sell it cheap to get it out of the closet.

    Another thing to consider – the car seat controversy. The thing that makes most winter coats warm is the fact that they’ve got lots of air pockets in the linings. Which can compress when under pressure. So this means that a car seat that seems nicely tight over a jacket can become loose when the jacket is actually compressed, as it would be in the forces involved in an accident. (http://babyproducts.about.com/od/carseats/a/carseatcoat.htm) There are different approaches to this – remove jackets and put them on backwards over the car seat, or take them off entirely and put a blanket on instead or have the car pre-heated, or wear only fleece which supposedly doesn’t compress. My personal favorite is to buckle the car seat up under the jacket, as seen here – http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=29772

  9. Laura Jul 25 at 3:33 pm Reply Reply

    I live in michigan with two little boys and I find good boots are a MUST.   Just some basic $20-$30 moon boots work just fine.  My boys are attracted to every slushy puddle out there, so they wear them all the time in the winter.  
    I like Stride Rite – especially if you have an outlet store.
    Kohls has a great line of coats and snow pants.

  10. IrishCream Jul 25 at 3:34 pm Reply Reply

    If you’ll be in an urban setting (as opposed to going directly from a heated car to a heated building most of the time), I recommend a bunting or muff for the little one’s stroller. It will help keep legs and feet warm, and you won’t gave to fully snowsuit her. It’s also handy when you’re running errands and going in and out of overheated stores – you can unzip and cool her off quickly, then easily re-zip when you’re outside. I have a puffy down one from Maclaren, because it’s the only one that would fit on our stroller, and I can actually zip it up to my daughter’s chin. Google the J. Cole BundleMe for an example if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m not sure I’m describing it very well.

  11. eva Jul 25 at 3:48 pm Reply Reply

    If you are in the Pacific Northwest, I recommend layers.  And more layers.  We do at least microfleece or thin merino wool base layer, then fleece suit (google “ursus bunting suit”), then a waterproof outer layer (google “newt suit” for an idea).  MEC (in Canada) or REI are definitely your best bets, especially if you are going to get your kids into skiing, snowboarding, or tobogganing.  I agree with Amy on mittens over gloves, buy several thin fleecy pairs and maybe one waterproof shell and you’re good to go.  We haven’t used scarves for our girls, but have used those fleece neck gaiter-y things that work amazingly well.  And for toques, we go fleece, from wherever (Old Navy! H&M! Cheap because fleece is fleece and they get lost!).  Enjoy the winter wherever you go!

  12. JanM Jul 25 at 3:56 pm Reply Reply

    How north is north? I’m from Winnipeg (originally), and if you’re heading this far north, a snowsuit/snowpants are pretty important to have!

    A really great thing to have in cold weather (for both a 4yo and a 1yo) is baby legs legwarmers (not necessarily that brand name, but I’ve found those are the best of the lot). You can layer them under pants for that vital bit of skin between pants and socks. Plus they are really easy to pull off if they get too hot without taking off pants. 

  13. margie s Jul 25 at 4:04 pm Reply Reply

    I bought snow pants in gender-neutral colors, easy to add if we got snow, or if skiing/sledding/tubing was on the agenda.

  14. Elena Jul 25 at 4:04 pm Reply Reply

    Hello from rediculously hot Montreal, Canada (I’m 35 weeks preggo, and yes, thank goodness for A/C). Nice to dream about the snow in weather like this. It gets down to -40º (F or C, it’s the same at that temp) here in winter, so I know cold and snow. For the young’uns, they are these cute little stroller bunting thingys if you don’t plan on popping her in the snow independantly, it’s good for going outside, and then zip! Out she goes when you get inside – easy for changing diapers and such. In weather like ours, I suggest snowsuits, because I just think it’s sad to coop kids in all day throughout winter (ours last ~6 months, don’t know where you’ll be, though, but if it’s just below freezing for a month, ignore my advice). My french-Canadian mother-in-law who is over-the-hill excited about her first granddaughter already bought us a snowsuit for a 3-6 month-old (she found it on sale). It’s pretty cool because it’s footed (no need for boots), has zippers up both legs, so you can change the diapers easily, and mits with no thumbs (not like infants are that dextrous anyways) that snap onto the suit. Yes! BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY: FOR YOU!!!! Don’t forget to invest in good, warm clothes and boots! It makes all the difference between a miserable winter and a really fun one! Thermal underwear, warm, water-tight boots, and (I’d suggest, unless you’re against animal by-products) goose down jackets. Fur-lined hoods are also AMAZING and keeping your face warm. Yup, it’ll put you back between $400 and $700 for your jacket, but you won’t regret it. :-) (You won’t move around as much as your kids, so warm wear is a must while you stand out there watching them run about).

  15. Morgan Jul 25 at 4:29 pm Reply Reply

    It also depends if it’s a dry cold or a wet cold. Here in the Canadian prairies, it can drop to -30, but it’s a dry cold, and a windproof shell over lots of warmth is usually best. In moister areas, the wet cold bites to the bone and you’ll need different gear – see above comment about cotton being bad. I usually get away with long wool coats when it gets cold here, but couldn’t do that in the Maritimes…

    Basically, wait until you move the the Great White North and see what you actually need.

  16. Jan Jul 25 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    We’re in MA and snowpants (or a snow suit) are a must, especially if your kids are in daycare/preschool for any length of time. The teachers at the place we go took the kids out pretty much every day last winter, and they always made the kids wear their snowpants. (I personally have much less patience with kids & snow gear…) I’d also agree w/ the folks who said that snowpants with adjustable shoulder straps are a little more flexible than snowsuits… I’ve managed to get 2 winters out of several of our pairs by buying a little big.

  17. GM Jul 25 at 5:46 pm Reply Reply

    I live in MN and you’ll want some snow pants for the kiddos. The adults probably won’t need them. Even if you enjoy skiing most of the time you’ll be on your feet instead of in the snow. The same cannot be said for children. I grew up with cold winters and layering something under a pair of jeans is not the same thing. You really do need to keep the wet out- insulate those little legs. 

  18. Erin Jul 25 at 5:59 pm Reply Reply

    As far as foot wear goes, boots are a must must must! Living somewhere that is wet and cold I personally went shopping for the perfect pair boots a couple of years ago and found these: http://www.bogsfootwear.com/. They are insulated as well as waterproof. I would definitely consider them in the running, especially with kids.

  19. Hi, I'm Natalie. Jul 25 at 9:15 pm Reply Reply

    lol. Oh, sweetpea… That is the most adorable letter ever. This is my daughter back-country skiing last winter. The coldest weather that we’ve had her in is -22F – for about a 30min hike. She LOVES the cold.

    Amy’s advice is excellent (as always!), but the clothing really depends where you are and the time of year… In Vancouver? Invest in waterproof everything and avoid down everything – it’s wet and icky there. In the prairies or the east side of the Rockies? It’s dry and cold – LAYERS and snowsuits and DOWN are your friend. (Check out MEC.ca if you want to see a big selection of kids’ outdoor clothes – they’re our version of REI.)

    And… you’ll be fine. Wherever you are, this is a beautiful country – especially in the winter!

  20. Melissa Jul 26 at 1:53 am Reply Reply

    We live in Idaho and my kids can’t stand to be stuck in the house so nice heavy coats are a must. We also do the snowpants and boots.  I have three boys so we buy nice stuff because I know it will get plenty of use.  Good snow boots make a huge difference.  But if you are only planning a short trip outdoors it doesn’t matter as much.  My kids go to school wearing a long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve layered on top, a hoodie,  coat and gloves. If there is snow on the ground boots and snow pants.  I work at an elementary school so I know first hand how frustrating it is when kids come to school under dressed for the the weather.  I would rather my kids have options to remove layers or add them if needed.  

  21. andrea Jul 26 at 12:21 pm Reply Reply

    Tights are hard to get on the little ones, but the jersey pants/leggings work so well and are so adorable under dresses so that they can wear them into the fall.  

    I know your little ones are a bit older but for babies the snowsuit was the best invention ever.  I’d put her in it and she was warm and then we got to the place I’d take her out of it and she was dressed to play inside.  Yes she looked like a pink starfish :) but it was so much easier then trying to piece together a coat and pants for the outside only to be inside the rest of the day and hot from all the additional layers.  

  22. Maggie Jul 26 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Minnesota Margot. COTTON IS BAD. FLEECE IS GOOD. 

    Seriously. If cotton gets wet, it will stay damp and make you cold. If you wear silk, wool, fleece, or sports-wicking fabrics, they will keep the inside warm and dry, and push the moisture to the outside.  This is especially important for the layers closest to your body, but really, you should try to avoid any cotton layers at all. 

  23. Ronja Jul 27 at 2:00 am Reply Reply

    I know others have said it, but as someone who has lived in three different Canadian climates (west coast, prairies, and southern Ontario) I’ve got to emphasize that it REALLY depends on exactly where you’ll be living and that particular climate.  It’s probably best not to spend too much money until you meet some other parents in your new home and copy whatever they do.

    In the prairies (very cold, but also dry), poofy warm layers covered by a windproof shell is best.  You’ll want boots tall enough to be tucked into snowpants. In much of the southeast of Canada (or northeast US, I imagine) the winters are warmer but wetter, and can feel just as brutal but in a different way.  Here, waterproofing is key.  Water resistant won’t cut it for the way kids play outdoors. The west coast is just balmy in comparison and all you really need is rain gear with a sweater.

    As others have mentioned, learn about layers.  There are three classic layers for outdoor life, and if you can get each one just right for your climate, you’ll be happy!  First you’ll want a fairly snug-fitting layer right against your skin that can wick moisture away from your body.  You’ve already got great advice here about cotton vs silk, etc.  Second you’ll want your insulating layer, so something poofy and warm that traps lots of air between its fibres (fleece is great).  Finally you want your weatherproof outer shell, that’s wind and/or waterproof depending on your climate, and if you’ll be doing strenuous activity on a regular basis you’ll also want it to be breathable (Goretex is the king of these fabrics, but comes with a hefty pricetag, so only invest in it if you’re very sporty/outdoorsy or very wealthy).  That’s it!  More layers (multiple shirts & sweaters) is NOT better, as you will likely just compress the air-trapping ability of your poofy insulating layer which is what actually keeps you warm.

  24. heidikins Jul 27 at 12:52 pm Reply Reply

    I also agree with snow pants vs snow suit. The overall kind can easily be adjusted to last for 2 years and are essential to things like sledding, tramping around in the snow, etc.

    Also, as your kids get older, it is essential to keep them in gear that will let them play outside and be warm and dry. None of this ’20 minutes and then you can come switch clothes.” At school that won’t fly. In cold climates they don’t keep kids inside when it’s snowing, or cold, or anything. You need to dress them for the weather, and you need to remember that after playing outside for 45 minutes–and playing hard at recess–they will need to go back to school for the afternoon. Wet, cold, clothes won’t cut it.

    Good luck!
    xox

  25. Sarah Jul 28 at 12:18 pm Reply Reply

    I also like the overall (bibbed) snow pants for younger kids who flop around in the snow a lot because snow doesn’t get down the waist when the jacket rides up. Older kids, who have discovered the word “dorky,” or whatever the equivalent will be, can still be coaxed into waist-high snow pants or lightweight shells once they have gotten thoroughly wet in just their jeans.
    Don’t forget that you won’t get by with one pair of water resistant mittens in the snow. One to wear, one to be drying, and one for when the ones that are on get wet and the others are still in the dryer.
    When you see how much most kids like snow (of course, many kids do not) it will be worth the fact that once you get the gear on, the child WILL have to go to the bathroom. Or you will, while the children turn beet red from heat out in the hall.

  26. Cassie Jul 28 at 5:31 pm Reply Reply

    Snow pants. Yup. Times a zillion. Great because they’re easier to put on and you can just use the regular warm winter coat over ‘em.

    And might I make a suggestion for handwear OTHER than mittens, that I got as a tip from my daycare? SOCKS. Adult socks. Put them on first (they’ll go up past the kidlet’s elbows) and then put the coat on over them. Depending on the sock, they’ll either be not be quiet as warm or will be just as warm as mittens. BUT! They’ll be harder for your kidlet to pull off or lose and better than bare hands.

  27. Ms. Huis Herself Aug 01 at 11:13 pm Reply Reply

    I was going to suggest the L-bow mittens (http://www.lbow.com/mittens.html) but I see somebody else already did. They. Are. Teh. Awesome.

    Also, as MN/WI-ite, I reaffirm the snowpants, good boots (cold toes suck, frostbite is worse, & your kids might not tell you they’re cold until they’re FROZEN!), and baby-leg-warmers for the any gaps between socks/pants and/or sleeves/mittens. Good luck & have fun!

  28. Anne Aug 29 at 5:34 pm Reply Reply

    Our best purchase was snowpants with suspenders from Target.  Inexpensive and we actually got 3-4 years out of them because I bought them kind of big:  in the beginning we had the suspenders adjusted to the smallest length (they didn’t trip over the legs because they just bunched up a little on the boots).  As they got bigger, I just kept letting out the suspenders–the waist isn’t really fitted so I just kept letting them down.  I was surprised every year that they still fit but from age 4 to 7 or so, they just get taller, not really much wider and the pants are a loose fit anyway.  Top it with a good jacket and they work great–more comfortable too than an actual snowsuit.

  29. Erica Aug 15 at 4:11 am Reply Reply

    Welcome to the North.  You will have 4 seasons so you will have lots of clothes!!!  Winter boots, rain boots, sneakers, sandals, mitts, scarves, tou ques, buffs(those things are awesome) spring coats, winter parka’s, snow suits, hoodies by the tonne, lots of money spent but get into the trade between friends.  In Calgary, people have a ton of money, so alot of winter stuff gets given away.  Please keep extra snow pants on hand and boots and touques and mitts for those kids who comje over for a play day without suitable clothes.  No matter how cold, kids want to be outside.

    Vancouver and Quebec make those winter type rubber boots as there snow is really wet, on the prairies, it is fluffy but windchill is a huge issue.  Do not buy winter parka’s with fleece as a liner, they are not warm enough and the kids get way to cold.  They will need a proper insulated winter parka and snow pants are a must for skating, sledding, recess up to grade 6.  After that kids prefer to freeze their asses and feet and fingers and ears off to look cool.  Trust me on this one, grade 7 and up, they lose their brain!!  You will churn through mitts and gloves, so have lots, they always go on sale.  Buy a variety of styles, knitts, waterproof shelols, etc.  Also go to Costco and buy a box of hotpacks for hands and feet, they are lifesavers on really cold days when kids are waiting for bus.

    When kids are little, you can get away with second hand boots, but once in kindergarten, a new pair of boots is essential.  They wear them out anyhow.  Kamiks are a great buy and good for -40 temps, they are also light weight.  And only cost from 40 to 70 bucks for the bigger sizes.  Stay away from heavy winter boots as the kids drag there feet and it will drive you crazy.  Sorrells are ridiculously heavy.  Older kids will only where runners in the winter, with warm socks.
    Once kids are out of the snow suit phase, you will have to switch to base layers underneath the clothes and this can be a real challenge because they don’t want to be hot in school.  SEARS and the BAY, WALMART all carry tonnes of affordable snow suits and boots.  If you wait until  November, they will be gone.  In Calgary, it is rare to not have snow on halloween.  Dressing for yourselves will be the same, you will need a PARKA for those bitter days, a long dress coat for office with a big collar, plenty of different govles, scarves, touques and hats.  Leather gloves donot keep you warm when scrapping snow off your windshield.  Carry extra clothes in your car.  Embrace winter and you willl have a good time.  My kids have been skiing and skating since they were 4, and we ski in Jan/Feb in -30 degree weather all the time.  My 14 year old is a tiny thing, 5’3″ and 89 lbs.  She wears two pairs of high tech synthetic bonded wool underwear by Helly Hanson under her ski suit, with a fleece and an insulated ski suit, plus a fleece buff under her helmut.  Kids will hate winter if they can’t stay warm and dry so do yourself a favour and plan on spending a bit more money, or beg borrow steal.  I love winter and winter sports but storing all those clothes has it challenges.  Have fun, and welcome!!

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