A mom wears her baby in a carrier on her chest. Both are dressed warmly, outdoors in a park as snow falls.

How to dress your baby for spending time outdoors in the winter

Winter can be very isolating for parents with newborns or young babies. Cold temperatures and icy weather make you feel like you need to hibernate, but nothing leads to a stir crazy parent and baby like spending months indoors. There’s nothing stopping you from enjoying outdoor time with your baby even when it’s cold, though it is a good idea to stay inside if temperatures dip too low.

In an article in Today’s Parent, Catherine Pound, a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, advised parents that they should limit outdoor time (i.e., no long walks) if the temperature hits -20°C or below.

Anything above -20°C means that you can get out there for a walk or even to give your baby an outdoor nap. But the most important thing is to make sure that your baby is dressed appropriately for the weather. Over the years I’ve developed a list of rules that will help you make sure that your little one isn’t too cold or too warm.

How to keep your baby warm this winter:

1. Dress in layers (watch the video below for more on this).

2. Dress your baby in thermal underwear, both a long sleeve onesie and long johns. We love merino wool, synthetic, or a blend of both. The beauty of merino wool is that it regulates body heat. I never, ever dress in cotton in the winter.

3. Dress your baby in fleece pants and a sweater on top of the thermal underwear on really cold days.

4. Make sure their hat covers their ears, and that they are wearing mittens and a neck warmer.

5. Purchase a one-piece snowsuit because a bulky snowsuit restricts movement for the baby.

6. A bunting bag is useful if you are going to spend a lot of time outdoors. It will keep your baby warm on very cold days and on mild days you don’t have to dress your baby in so many layers.

7. Make sure your baby is wearing wool socks.

8. Check your baby often to make sure she is not too cold or too hot. A midwife taught me how to check my baby’s temperature by touching her neck and hands. If she’s too cold she will feel cold to the touch and if she’s too hot she will be sweating.

9. As always, when you are heading outside, make sure you check the weather so that you’re as prepared as much as possible for sudden changes.

Fostering outdoor connections when your child is a baby is equally important for both of you. Though the adventures will change as children get older, you will continue to enjoy the bonds you have built together in nature. The earlier you start getting your kids outside, the less resistance you’ll encounter getting them out later in life.

8 responses to “How to dress your baby for spending time outdoors in the winter

  1. Hi! My baby is 2 months old. How would you recommend to dress him if we are going out to a family restaurant or going outside for a walk with the stroller? Would a cotton onesie, a 2 piece thermal or fleece outfit and a bunting along with a wool hat and gloves suffice?

  2. What about babies? I love going on walks with my son who is 7 months old. So far, i have been putting him in a onesie, a long sleeve shirt, pants and normal socks. Depending on how cold it is, either a hoodie and a fleece one piece or his snowsuit. He always has a hat and he has integrated mittens.
    I back carry him in a babycarrier so pyjamas arent recommended. Ill start looking at the material to try to limit coton.

  3. I want to know who makes that Hat!! What a awesome one that would be for me to promote in our daycare for the harsh Alberta winters!!

    1. Hi Katherine,
      This was Norwegian clothing sold here in Toronto some time. I agree the hat is super handy. Check out Reima outdoor wear, they might have similar. WarmthandWeather.ca

  4. how to dress a baby that will spend the time of the walk in a ‘next to skin’ type carrier? and what would change if the baby was in a pram and wasn’t going to be active? thank you for the video :)

    1. Hi Ali,
      Generally the same rules as in the video. However less effort on waterproof clothing and warm socks instead of boots.Make sure you dress in thermonal underwear or if you don’t have thermonal underwear wear a pyjamas as in the video and hats and mittens. Next a snow suit or alternatively a bunting bag with fleece pants and jacket or similar material and a wind shade. Please note is important to check on the baby to make sure she/he is comfortable. Especially important if your are going for long hikes or touring with the baby.

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