Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler (+ Winter Layering Guide)

Now, the end of May might seem like a silly time to post about surviving winter with an infant or toddler or to share an epic winter layering guide, but hey, this is proof that we did, in fact, survive (3 winters now!). And well, one can never be certain that winter is actually over (haha). Anyway, read on, bookmark this for next fall, and maybe grab some gear during some off-season clearance sales so that you’re ready for the snow to fly again! And hopefully, that won’t be too soon!

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler (title image) Winter Layering Guide - mamanonthetrail.com

This post includes 17 tips for surviving the winter with an infant, 19 tips for surviving the winter with a toddler, AND a thorough breakdown of our winter layering guide for infants, toddlers AND adults (plus WHY we layer…hint: our layers get used most of the year). Below the winter layering guide, you’ll find a list and some links so that you can find our favourite brands for layers and outerwear.

Jump to the Tips for Toddlers   ||   Jump to the Winter Layering Guide

Here are 17 Tips for Surviving Winter with an Infant

We survived the winter with Huckleberry as an infant 2 years ago and we will need to do it again this coming winter with Trail Baby 2, so think of this as a selfish reflection that helps you, too! And remember, merino wool is your best friend.

Dressing Your Baby…

  • Dress in layers starting with a breathable, temperature-regulating base layer, like merino wool, mid-layers for insulation/warmth, and an outer layer that protects against wind and water – unless your child is sharing your coat, then go easy on the mid-layers and omit the outer layer.
  • One-piece layers (especially with feet included) like sleepers and bunting suits are your best option to keep baby warm.
  • Choose a hat that fits under a hood, thumb-less mittens that come up to the elbows, and boots that are easy to put on and will stay on while babywearing (if that’s your transportation of choice).
  • See winter layering guide below for more details.

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide 1 - mamanonthetrail.com

Dressing Yourself…

  • Wear your favourite winter coat for babywearing (or pregnancy) by investing in a Kokoala Coat Extender, and consider grabbing the hood and scarf to go with it.
  • Layer down a little if the baby is in your coat with you (if you choose to use the Kokoala mentioned above) and layer up if the baby is outside of your coat or in a stroller.
  • If you haven’t yet invested in good outerwear for yourself, now is the time to do so. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing – and believe me, you will enjoy your time outside with your little one so much more if you’re dressed for it!
  • Get some Yaktrax and wear them! You can thank me later!
  • See winter layering guide below for more details.

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide 2 - mamanonthetrail.com

Dressing for Babywearing vs. Stroller-Riding…

  • A thick fleece poncho or blanket is a great addition to a stroller or sled in the winter.
  • A baby in a carrier requires more attention to keep extremities warm, but less to keep their core warm (unless they are inside you’re coat – then they are toasty all over), while a baby in a sled or stroller would need a blanket to help with their core temperature AND extremities – in either case, check your baby often and don’t ignore their whimpers and cries.
  • You will likely be warmer if you are wearing your baby, so easy-to-remove layers are a good idea, as is a coat with zippered armpit vents.
  • There are great accessories out there to help with strollering in the winter – like skis*, handlebar mittens*, and more!

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide 3 - mamanonthetrail.com

Other Helpful Tips…

  • Find friends to get outside with! It can be lonely when you’re home with an infant in the winter. See if there’s a Hike it Baby branch near you or join another parent group and ask around for interest in getting outside together.
  • Choose the warmest part of the day to get outside (checking the hourly forecast is super helpful).
  • Prevent chapped cheeks, lips and hands by taking care of your skin before, during and after outdoor play (check out this outdoor family skincare post).
  • On particularly windy days or when there’s precipitation, stick to wooded areas where you will be sheltered.
  • Depending on age, you can help your baby learn to communicate whether they are too hot or too cold using baby sign language.
  • Know your limits and don’t push it – it’s better to call it quits early than to end on a rough note and not want to go out again.

Love it? Pin it!

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide (infant tips pin) - mamanonthetrail.com

Jump to the Winter Layering Guide

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Here are 19 Tips for Surviving Winter with a Toddler

Some of the above tips totally apply to toddlers as well, and if you’re reading this entire post you’ll see some repeats, but seeing as there is a lot less babywearing or stroller-riding and a lot more romping around in the snow, some things will look a little different. You can also find some suggestions for activities to keep the outdoors fun even in the extreme cold. And remember, merino wool is your best friend.

Dressing Your Toddler…

  • Dress in layers starting with a breathable, temperature-regulating base layer, like merino wool, mid-layers for insulation/warmth, and an outer layer that protects against wind and water.
  • Choose a hat that fits under hoods, mittens that come up to the elbows, and boots that can work with the layers on the legs (either come up over the layers to the knees or fit securely inside the outer layer).
  • Pay attention to the temperature and the level of activity when choosing layers as you do not want your toddler to be too hot or too cold.
  • See winter layering guide below for more details.

Dressing Yourself…

  • Layer yourself according to the temperature and activity – strolling at a toddler’s pace or playing with a toddler in the snow requires a lot less movement from you and standing around gets COLD, while babywearing, stroller-pushing and sled-pulling can have you working up a HOT sweat.
  • If you haven’t yet invested in good outerwear for yourself, now is the time to do so. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing – and believe me, you will enjoy your time outside with your little one so much more if you’re dressed for it!
  • Get some Yaktrax and wear them! You can thank me later!
  • See winter layering guide below for more details.

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide 5 - mamanonthetrail.com

Dressing for Ride-Along Activities vs. Playing in the Snow…

  • A thick fleece poncho or blanket is a great addition to a stroller or sled in the winter.
  • A child in a carrier requires more attention to keep extremities warm, but less to keep their core warm (as they can often share heat with you) unless they are in a child-carrier backpack/structured carrier like the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 or Kiddy Adventure Pack – they don’t share warmth with you in these carriers and might like a poncho or blanket.
  • You will be warmer if you are wearing, carrying, pushing or pulling your toddler, so easy-to-remove layers are a good idea, as is a coat with zippered armpit vents.
  • If you’re playing in the snow, an extra set of mittens is great to have on hand, or some instant hand warmers*.

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide 6 - mamanonthetrail.com

Other Helpful Tips…

  • Find friends to get outside with! It can be so much easier to get you and your kiddo(s) out the door when you know someone is counting on you or that you’ll have some adult company. See if there’s a Hike it Baby branch near you or join another parent group and ask around for interest in getting outside together.
  • Find a super fun activity to help you get out the door – on the extremely cold (-30°c) days we blew bubbles, caught them and watched them freeze and tossed boiling water into the air and watched it vaporize (more on that here).
  • Treat yourselves to some hot chocolate, cider, tea or coffee at the end of your time outside (this can also be a great way to bribe a little one to push just a little more).
  • Choose the warmest part of the day to get outside (checking the hourly forecast is super helpful).
  • Prevent chapped cheeks, lips and hands by taking care of your skin before, during and after outdoor play (check out this outdoor family skincare post).
  • On particularly windy days or when there’s precipitation, stick to wooded areas where you will be sheltered.
  • Help your child learn to communicate whether they are too hot or too cold (sign language might help with this).
  • Dress your kid first and then yourself – because wrestling an unwilling toddler into a snowsuit is NOT FUN when you’re in a full sweat and too much clothing!
  • Know your limits and don’t push it – it’s better to call it quits early than to end on a rough note and not want to go out again.

Love it? Pin it!

Surviving Winter with an Infant or Toddler Winter Layering Guide (toddler tips pin) - mamanonthetrail.com

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And here is the Epic Winter Layering Guide!

If you’re just here for my (fairly) foolproof winter layering guide, now updated to include infants, toddlers AND adults, then scroll on down and save that epic infographic to Pinterest for next winter!

Just over a year ago I put together my first winter layering guide based on how we were dressing our then 1-year old. I have shared that guide countless times and helped many a family keep their little one warm outside – but that guide doesn’t help parents dress their infants or toddlers, and it doesn’t help the parents dress themselves. So after 3 winters as a family, it’s time for a big update on that winter layering guide so that I can help even more families enjoy the wonders of winter!

An important note before you dig into this winter layering guide: we choose to LAYER and not buy all-in-one winter outerwear. This allows us to get usage out of most if not all of those layers 6-12 months of the year instead of just 3-6 months. We also sized up on a lot of Huckleberry’s gear and he got 2 years out of some pieces. We are all about budget-friendly options and have found that choosing layers that we can all enjoy throughout the year has helped us to not break the bank and to get our money’s worth out of our quality outdoor gear.


Winter Layering Guide

Want to shop this winter layering guide and our favourite gear?

From top to bottom, here are the details:

Infant Layers & Accessories…

Toddler Layers & Accessories…

Adult Layers & Accessories…

Many of these products and their equivalents can be found at Amazon.com*, please click the image below to shop and support my blog.

*

If you found this post or these graphics useful, please share the link on the social media platform of your choice, or pin any of the images to Pinterest – you will be helping me and many other families looking to get outside in the winter with their littles. Thank you!

*Denotes an affiliate link. I make a very small commission when you shop through my affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the blog.

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