Dressing Kids for Cold Weather

This post was originally published on January 2, 2021.

dressing kids for cold weatherThe first eighteen years of my life were spent in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. The great white North. It’s still home where I brave the low temps to spend holidays with family. 

I absolutely remember arguing with my mom before school about having to bundle up in layers before heading out to the bus stop. Racing out the door and taking off the “uncool” stuff as soon as I was out of sight and shoving it into my backpack. It always felt like none of the other kids had to wear what my mom made me wear.

And now I know how frustrating and exhausting those morning arguments were for my mom. I am now living it. The weather transitions from warm to sort-of warm to just plain chilly, and the kids fight it hard. They love their shorts and tees!

Between the two kids, I swear I have heard every excuse they could conjure up in their minds to resist cold-weather gear.

  • I’m hot-blooded, I don’t get cold.
  • Its going to be warmer later.
  • Not outside for long so who cares?
  • It’s too hot in school.
  • I can’t buckle my seatbelt with it on.
  • Can’t find my hat, gloves, jacket, etc. . . .
  • The sleeves get in my way.
  • It’s too tight on my arms.
  • My friend doesn’t wear hers.
  • I doesn’t fit in my backpack.

Why is it so hard to dress appropriately for the weather?

I have seen kids at the bus stop in all fashions. Some of the boys insist on wearing shorts when it’s below forty. I don’t love it, but I also don’t think it means that child’s mom doesn’t know how to dress her kid. It honestly means that mom is tired. Tired of the “Groundhog Day” feeling every day. Tired of hearing excuses as to why they won’t be cold. Tired of keeping track of the stuff they take off and hide so their friends don’t see it.

In the grand scheme of things at this current moment, it’s just not a hill worth dying on. I am done arguing over which outfit corresponds to which temperature. My daughter will learn on her own. She is old enough to figure out that she can dress in layers. Old enough to figure out how cold is too cold. Hopefully she learns quickly because we go way up north for the holidays and that kind of cold is no joke.

Toddler Gear

When it comes to children who can’t dress themselves, Mom does get to impose her will on the wardrobe choices. It’s still not that easy. Especially trying to wrestle squirmy little ones into heavier jackets and keeping hats on their heads. It’s a near-impossible feat.

It takes longer to dress them for the cold than it does to get from Point A to Point B in the elements. Is it really worth it to go through all that trouble just so your mom doesn’t think you let your children “catch their death” on a thirty-second trip from the door to the car?

For infants and toddlers in five-point harness safety seats, bundling up for a car ride is not recommended. In fact, it can be dangerous, but not for the reasons you might think. Research shows that dressing little ones in puffier winter gear can cause up to a four-inch gap in the safety harnesses. That four inches is enough space for a child to slide out in the event of a crash. That is something I would have never thought about. I was concerned about them being too cold outside and then too hot once they got into their seat. I never thought about the coat getting in the way of their safety buckles.

Get creative with alternatives to keep them safe and warm. Look for options that allow for the buckles to fit tight and secure and then fit over or around. A simple idea is to keep a warm blanket in the car to wrap them up with. The Bundleme fleece liner that zips around baby’s car seat or another simple item like a car seat poncho are good choices, too.

Permission to Let it Go

I remember my grandpa saying once that if Grandma was cold, everyone had to put on an extra layer. Now that I am a mother I find that statement to be so very true. It’s also true that the kids will fight it. Every time.

You can still be a good mom if you give in and let her have her way once in a while. I am learning that at this stage, she craves some control. Right now her clothing choices are that piece she wants to control. She is not in danger of frostbite or asking to wear something completely out of the ordinary. It’s just not what I consider weather appropriate.

If you have a little one and you spend extra time debating those extra layers before you strap them in the car seat, you aren’t alone. Buckle first and then bundle to keep them safe and yourself sane.

All kids resist the layers and bulky gear. It doesn’t make you a bad mom to just let it go.


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Erin K
Erin is a transplant, relocating to Birmingham from the midwest in 2016. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she met her husband Karl while attending Purdue University. They had no idea when they received the opportunity to move south that the city had so much to offer. Together the couple has two girls: Hadley (10) and Allyson (14). Being a mom to two school-aged girls fills her with equal measures of love and anxiety. She believes that there is much to be learned from sharing motherhood stories and experiences because no one truly has it all figured out. Erin is the owner of Forté Dance Essentials, a new dancewear boutique located in Hoover. She also supports the brand building and marketing efforts of other small business owners as a marketing consultant.