January 9, 2018

Surviving Winter's Deep Freeze with a Toddler

I'm sitting writing this from the comfort of the dining room table, looking out the window at what is a -11 degree C day.  Seems mild compared to what it has been lately. But, when you add in the windchill and it’s more like -18 degrees C, I’m quickly reminded that we’re probably staying inside today.

Some days, staying inside would be the easiest thing to do. But, some days, whether it is part of our daily routine of going to school or even just needing a few minutes of fresh air, staying inside just isn’t an option. We must face the elements. 

We love getting outside with Morley every chance we get. During the winter months, we tend to go a little stir crazy staying inside, so a walk is something we look forward to. Even if just for a few minutes. However, with how cold it has been lately here in southern Ontario, what to wear and how long we’ll be out is often up in the air. Keeping your little one warm, but comfortable, is the key to an enjoyable winter outside.

Last winter, I shared tips for keeping baby warm during the winter months. Now that Morley is nearing two, and is officially a walking, talking, independent toddler, things have changed some. With a child that is mobile (and loves the snow), Morley's winter gear has changed from keeping her warm, to keeping her both warm AND dry. So, today, I’m sharing some of my best tips and tricks for keeping toddler warm during the winter months.


Skip the gloves, and opt for mittens. For both ease of slipping on and keeping baby warm. Mittens are warmer because they keep fingers, and the heat they produce, close together. Chose mittens that have a warm lining and a water-resistant outer shell. If they don’t come with strings attached, consider purchasing clips to fasten to the sleeves of the snowsuit.

Toddler dressing tip: Put on mittens before you put your child’s snowsuit on, that way the cuffs will help keep the mittens in place.


When it comes to heat loss, a large percentage is lost through the head. A hat is critical to a little one’s winter weather wardrobe. Those with earflaps that tie under the neck work best, and will prevent their little cheeks from being exposed to the wind. And, if your tot will wear a balaclava-style hat, kudos to you! 

Scarves are a big no no for obvious safety reasons, especially at daycare. Neck warmers are a much better option. 

Snow Suit

When it comes to the jacket and snow pants, opt for that has cuffs that fit tightly around ankles and wrists to prevent the cold (or snow) from creeping in. Elastic bands work, but velcro is ideal and lets you adjust.

A jacket with a hood will help keep the snow out, and add an extra layer of warm around their head.

Bibbed snow pants (the ones that go over the shoulders and zip up the front) are ideal for a little one because they will stay up, prevent snow from going down their pants and add an extra layer, keeping their torso warm.

Toddler dressing tip: For independent toddlers, teach them the“over the head coat trick”. If they’re in daycare, chances are they’ve already perfected it. Lay the coat on the floor - zipper open, inside face up, with the hood at their feet. Have them crouch down and put their arms in the arms of the jacke. When they stand up, the inside should be facing their belly and the hood should now be pointed toward the floor. Rotate arms and flip the jacket over their head so it is right side up. Voila, independence!


Boots should be roomy enough that your child can still wiggle their toes. This is important for good circulation, and keeping their feet, and the rest of their body, warm.

As always, safety first when it comes to taking your child outside during the cold winter weather. Use your best judgement. Watch for signs of hypothermia, such as blue lips, shivering, or an unusually pale appearance to the nose or ears and take them inside to warm up at the first sign of discomfort. It is just as important to pay close attention to signs of overheating - sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, and rapid breathing.

Outfitting a kid of any age for winter weather can be a hassle and often a fight, but it shouldn’t prevent you or your little one from experiencing the winter weather. 

At the end of the day, no matter how long it takes us to get ready, or how long we end up staying outside, I never regret those few minutes of fresh air in the winter months. And I don’t think Morley minds it either.

And, if you absolutely must stay inside, check out these cabin fever cures for tiny tots

I love learning tips from other mamas! Here are some of my community's best winter weather tips:

Sonya from House of Kerrs: Layers, and a bin by the door to put hats, mitts and scarves so it's all there when we need to get out.  The whole “coat flip over your head” trick that they teach in daycare works great too!

Erica from Anna Georgianna: I am a summer girl through and through. But I refuse to let the COLD Canadian winter keep us indoors. My tips for keeping your babe/kiddos cozy while having fun in the deep freeze are 1. layers (avoiding cotton), 2. boots and mitts that stay on and keep snow out (Stonz and Mimitens are amazing), 3. baby wearing with a Bridge the Bump coat extension system and 4. once the outdoor fun is over, warming up with hot chocolate, cuddling under a blanket and watching a movie!

Kate from Emmett’s ABCs: My biggest tip is make sure they have warm hand and feet! Spend a little bit more time finding great mitts they’ll keep on, and make sure their boots are nice and roomy. These are the first things that will get cold, and usually the first reason they’ll want to come inside, but it’s usually the last thing we think about!

Monica from Maman on the TrailAs a family that tries to be "rain or shine", we've had our limits tested with this deep freeze. It is so hard to get all bundled up for just 15 minutes of fame, but after a serious bout of cabin fever we dug deep and found the motivation we needed. We layer very deliberately from the skin out so that we can stay comfortable outside. Our layers look like this: merino wool base layer, fleece, then puffy insulation, then waterproof windbreaker. For some, those last two layers will be in the form of a winter coat, but for our little guy, we use a puffy insulation suit and then a rain suit. Add some good boots, hat, mitts and a neck warmer and you're good to go! 

Maya from Mayahood Blog: One tip I would have is to add a key chain to the zipper on the coat to help kids zip up their coats on their own. My kids had a cool Lego one that they loved!

What are your best tips for keeping your little one warm and comfortable during the winter months? I’d love to hear!

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