Kids' Warm Clothing for Winter

Extreme Cold Weather Clothes for boys and girls, infants, toddlers and juniors

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Last updated - 19th September 2021


Emperor penguin

Surface area and volume - insulating your little penguin. Kids are proportionally smaller versions of adults, this means that they have relatively more surface area for their volume than an adult does and so they cool down faster in cold conditions and warm up faster in hot conditions being less able than an adult to control their body temperature naturally. So relative to an adult, a child will need somewhat more clothing for the same cold conditions in the way that a penguin chick needs more insulation than its parent.

Base, Core (Foundation) Layer - provides insulation while wicking sweat away from the skin to the outer layers. It should be close-fitting to perform well.
kids warm winter underwearkids warm underwearUnderwear, a soft layer next to the skin that provides warmth as well as comfort. It should be close fitting to help keep the heat in and also to make it easier to pull additional layers over the top.

If cold weather doesn't happen very often where you are, this is an affordable way of dealing with it. This layer can also see further service as winter pajamas, whereas that heavy winter coat might just get grown out of before it's needed again after that week-long cold snap.

A versatile layer to stay toasty outdoors or use as an outer layer indoors.
Insulated long underwear for kidsBoys  |  Girls


work parkaRocky Fleece Lined Thermal Underwear Set Top and Bottom
Girls   Boys
Winter work parkaCity Threads Thermal Underwear Long John Set - Made in USA
Girls   Boys


Lots of color choices


Layering for warmth is the way to go when dressing for a cold or very cold climate. A single very warm outer layer may seem the obvious choice but this gives less flexibility to control temperature. When it's too warm it's a big step-down to take off the big coat, likewise if you're starting to get cold, it's maybe a too-big step up to put it back on again.

Layering doesn't simply mean lots of layers, but layers for different purposes, useful to remember when kids are more eager to rush outside to play than get dressed properly for the cold first. The separate layers can be used alone when the temperatures aren't so low - an important consideration when fast growing kids mean that virtually nothing is ever going to fit them for two winters!


Kids cold weather clothing


Mid Insulation Layer/s - Insulating layer/s, flexibility is important for changing conditions and ventilation during play, with the ability to close everything up when it gets properly cold
kids winter snow bib overallsOne or more lightweight layer/s of clothing added or removed appropriately for the weather, temperature and level of activity works better than one thick heavy layer. This is the most versatile and variable layer which can go on as an outer layer in milder conditions or act as a mid layer with extras over the top.

When layers are added together, warm air gets trapped between as well as within the layers making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Zips, collars, draw cords and closeable cuffs increase versatility and allow for ventilation during activity or for all openings to be pulled closed in cold conditions or while at rest.

The insulating layer can be combined with outer layer for wind and water resistant or can be separate. Soft materials can't really be used as the only outer layer in the worst conditions despite the new coatings and finishes, they just aren't wind or water-proof enough on their own.


work parkaTurtle Fur versatile 1/4 zip pullover
Boys' | Girls'
cold weather work parkaFlannel Shirts
Boys' | Girls'

kids fleece jacketFleeces for insulation
Boys' | Girls'
kids down jacket Lightweight Down and Synthetic Insulation
Boys' | Girls'

Lower body insulation. Thick warm pants of a heavyweight natural material or synthetic material such as polyester. Avoid denim, it isn't friendly when it's cold and is very unpleasant when damp.
Winter pants - Boys'  |  Girls'


The Outer or Shell Layer - Direct protection from the weather, this layer should be windproof and may be waterproof. It could be simply a "shell" with no additional insulation or it may have insulation built in. Jackets should always have hoods.
kids warm jacketskids winter jacketsOuter / shell layer. This has to put up directly with what the weather throws at it.

It may combine the shell function with insulation or simply be a "shell" without any extra insulation. Whichever it is, outer shell layers for kids especially should always have a hood to stop wind rain and snow getting down the collar and because they can't get lost in the way that a hat can!

Elasticated cuffs for little ones and fastening cuffs for older kids along with draw cords to prevent warm air being lost while keeping snow, rain and wind out are essential features.

You may be tempted to get a cute child-version of an adult coat, a "looking at coat" as I think of them, often made of wool and with a tailored shape. While this might be perfect for Sunday Best or special occasions, they really aren't very effective at keeping the winter out, not being wind or waterproof, often with button fronts, loose sleeves and no draw-cords or elastic.

boys girls snow suit
Snow suits for serious winter fun
Girls    Boys

Girls winter coats  |  Boys winter coats

Snow suits are great for playing in the snow. A water resistant insulated jacket and water resistant insulated bib pants for extra insulation where it matters, the extra length makes it less likely to have exposed skin or thinly insulated areas when romping about in the snow.

Girls snow suits  |  Boys snow suits

  • 3-in-1 Jackets- A great solution for kids outer winter wear.  These consist of two garments, firstly a windproof and often waterproof outer shell, and then secondly a zip or clip-in insulated jacket of fleece or synthetic padding. Either can be worn on its own or they can be worn together for instant two-layer comfort and performance. In extended cold periods, keep the inner jacket fastened permanently inside the outer so they can both be thrown on together - time is always a pressing issue for kids!
    Boys'  |  Girls'

  • Waterproof over pants - for extended time spent playing in snow or out in the rain.
    Kids'


cold weather work parkaColumbia Powder Lite Puffer Jacket
Boys' | Girls
work parkaColumbia Interchange 3 in 1 Jacket
Boys' | Girls'


Lots of color choices


Accessories to Protect the Extremities - Head, Fingers and Toes (not forgetting ankles, wrists and neck)

Fingers, toes and ears can get very cold very quickly, like little radiators, they can also lead to a loss of heat from the rest of the body. They also have a disproportionate influence in how comfortable you feel, including how long kids can play out in the snow or how long you get to stick to your plans without having to change them to warm up chilly children. So don't ignore the extremities!

Feet

Boots

kids winter bootsWhen buying children boots for winter, you should be clear whether they are insulated or not. Many are sold as "winter boots" and while they are waterproof for wintery weather they may not add much extra warmth, you'll need to get thick socks too to winterize them.

Proper "winter boots" have built in insulation, both in the upper and especially in the thick sole which prevents a loss of heat to the ground, this becomes a very significant issue in the colder months in contrast to being something you don't notice at all for the rest of the year.

Boots for the very coldest weather have soft insulated uppers, thick plastic or rubber soles and particularly thick insoles to prevent heat loss. Being so insulated they are large and can make you rather clumsy, particularly on uneven ground.

Boys snow boots  |  Girls snow boots  |  Boys rain boots  |  Girls rain boots


work parkaNorthside Frosty - Snow Boot
boys / girls, sizes for age 1-12
cold weather work parkaKamik Snobuster1 - Snow Boot
boys / girls, sizes for age 1-12

cold weather work parkaKamik Rocket - Cold Weather Boot
boys / girls, sizes for age 1-12
Winter work parkaNova Mountain - Winter Snow Boots
boy's / girl's, toddler to little kid sizes


Lots of color choices


Socks

kids winter socksA thin pair of inner socks for comfort with thicker high wool content outer socks works well with winter boots. Wool is the best material for the outer socks as it is an excellent insulator and less prone to making the feet sweat than synthetic materials. If dampness through sweating does occur, wool still maintains its insulator properties. 100% wool might sound best but a small amount of a synthetic material such as nylon gives much better wear while something stretchy such as elastane gives a snug fit, helps keep them up and prevents them becoming misshapen.

Don't be tempted to put too many socks on. This can make the boots tight, squashing out the air which provides the insulation means they won't be as warm.

Kids merino hiking socks | Kids Darn Tough socks


Hands
kids winter gloves
kids mittensMittens are more effective than gloves for keeping hands warm. For little ones they also have the enormous advantage of being much easier to get on than the detailed problem that getting ten little fingers each into its own small compartment can pose.

Older children will be able to get gloves on themselves, though the mittens-are-warmer truism still applies. There's not a lot you can do in terms of manual dexterity with mittens on, but if there's not much to do and keeping the hands warm is the most important thing, they are the obvious solution.

In extremely cold conditions a pair of thin gloves with mittens over the top work very effectively, not the least as the mitts can be slipped off to allow dexterity with the gloves alone.

Long wrists are always useful whether they are elasticated to go under a loose sleeve or loose to go over a tighter fitting sleeve as they prevent heat loss from an exposed wrist which can be significant and uncomfortable, especially if snow gets down there.

Ski gloves are good if not the cheapest solution, they are both warm and water resistant which is great in snowy conditions.

Kids' gloves  |  Kids' mittens

kids gloves and mittensMCTi Kids Mittens
Waterproof Warm Sherpa Lined Long Cuff & String. Sizes for 1-15 years
kids gloves and mittensN'Ice Caps Kids Scroll Print Snow Gloves
Waterproof Thinsulate Insulated, sizes for 3 - 15

kids gloves and mittensVeyo Kids - Fun Mittyz, tiger paw, princess, skully
Waterproof, Easy on, Ski, Sledding, Winter Play sizes 6 months - 6 years

Head

"When your feet are cold, cover your head"- Inuit saying

kids winter hatsAbout 20% of your body heat is lost through the head. It doesn't always seem like this as the need to keep the brain warm means it is rare to experience a "cold head". It's like having a radiator on the roof though, so a very effective way of warming up overall is to put a hat on.

There's an almost endless variety of hats so you should be able to find one that your child likes and wants to wear.

While hoods are good at keeping the weather out, they restrict movement that you still retain with a hat, I always made sure my children had both.

Try to avoid those with bobbles, animal ears or similar sticky-out bits. Plain hats such as beanies allow you to easily pull a hood over them for extra warmth when needed, those extra "cool" additions will make the hood less effective as the hood is kept away from the hat. Dangly bits at the side might look cute, but when the wind starts to whip them constantly against chilly cheeks, you'll really wish you'd gone for the plainer version. I appreciate however that you may have an uphill struggle to implement the sensible over the cool solution here - good luck!

Make sure hats cover the ears too or have ear-flaps that can be folded down when needed.

Balaclavas can be very effective, they can be rolled up as a standard hat or unrolled to provide extra warmth, especially useful in conjunction with a hood attached to the shell layer.



In-between Bits

kids neck gaitersYou've dealt with insulation of the body, feet and head and the extremities are nicely protected. The last regions to attend to are the potentially exposed in-between regions that we can easily ignore in warmer temperatures.

These are the wrists, ankles and neck which can become cold and uncomfortable. Heat will be lost from these areas if not insulated as blood moves between other better insulated areas. Wrists and ankles are dealt with boots and gloves or mittens above which leaves the neck.

  • Neck - A scarf or insulated "neck gaiter" to insulate the neck region where warm air can get pumped out during movement and activity. It will also stop wind-driven snow (and snowballs and the fall-out from making snow-angels) getting into clothing where it then melts becoming cold and yucky. They can also be pulled up over the mouth and nose for extra warmth or to pretend to be a ninja. They are far more practical for kids than scarves.