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Dressing Your Baby or Child for Winter

Outside time and play is important for everyone!  Whether it is a winter walk, or an activity like skating or sledding, there are plenty of activities to be had during the long Canadian winters.  

But getting outside in the winter is more challenging with the inclement weather, and proper clothing is important to protect everyone so they can enjoy their time! 

It is important to ensure that your little one is dressed appropriately as babies and children are at a higher risk for cold related injuries like frostbite.

Dress for the Weather

It is best to wear several thin layers of clothes to keep babies and children warm and dry.  The rule of thumb is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the winter.  

Hats that cover the ears should always be worn.  A lot of body heat is lost through the head so it should remain covered when outdoors.  The ears are susceptible to frostbite so its best to ensure they are always covered.  

Mittens are better than gloves because the fingers are bunched together to create warmth (and also much easier to put on!).

Boots should be warm and waterproof.  There should be enough room for an extra pair of socks and still be able to wiggle the toes. 

Infants in a stroller or being pulled in a sled require extra bundling since they aren’t moving or playing to generate their own body heat.

Safe Winter Dressing Tips

  • Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf.
  • Use mitten clips instead of a string to prevent choking.
  • Find clothing with Velcro or snaps instead of drawstrings.  Remove drawstrings if present.
  • Remove wet clothing promptly after playing.

Babies and children should stay indoors if the temperature or wind chill is reported at -27°C.

Other great winter play safety tips can be found here.

This post was co-authored by Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.

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