Brr, it's cold outside! Here are some tips for dressing children in chilly weather - even if they insist they're fine in a t-shirt and jandals!
You may have heard this before: A good rule of thumb for dressing children is to put them into one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same weather. But why? For a start, layered clothing helps to trap heat. And layering also allows children to either remove or add a jumper or coat instead of being stuck either too hot or too cold.
Don't go overboard
Putting too many layers on your child can cause them to overheat and trigger their body's cool-down mechanism: Sweating. Sweating means moisture, which means their clothes become damp or wet -and with chilly wind or cold temperatures, those extra layers can actually cause your child to become colder.
Base, middle, outer
Your child will need three layers - a base layer next to their skin, a middle layer, and an outer layer. The base layer should fit their body snugly, and has the job of taking moisture away from your child's skin. Synthetic materials like polyester (or merino wool, if you prefer a natural product) is good for base layers. The middle layer is the insulator, and does the same job that insulation does in the walls of your house: It traps heat. It should fit close to the body (oversized is not the best option) and be made of a material like wool or fleece. The outer layer is the protector, keeping wind, rain, and snow from penetrating. A rain coat, waterproof jacket, down or puffer coat or vest are great options. It should allow for movement and fit over the other layers your child is wearing. Check sleeves are long enough and wrist openings are not too wide to allow the breeze to blow straight up those little arms!
Although cool and breathable in summer, cotton is not a kid-friendly option for layering in winter because it absorbs moisture, and a wet cotton top in cold weather will be uncomfortable. Choose wool or a synthetic fabric instead.
Children's hands, feet, faces, necks, ears, and heads are particularly sensitive to the cold, so while layers are a great idea, don't forget to cover up their extremities too. Waterproof gloves, scarves, and hats are great for keeping them covered up, and on their feet, heavy non-cotton socks (wool is ideal) and waterproof shoes or gumboots will help keep toes toasty.
What about legs?
Depending on how cold it gets, your child may also need to layer up on the lower half of their body too. Thermal leggings are thin and worn next to the skin under trousers. Lined double-layer trousers are available in the cold season too. If it's really cold or your child is playing in snow, a ski suit is a good option.
Tip: avoiding arguments
What if your child is absolutely set on wearing their favourite T-shirt or shorts when it’s so cold out you can see your breath in the air?
Here’s a tip: Compromise and let them wear it over their base and middle layers. A thermal top, long-sleeved shirt, and T-shirt on top will probably be fine – and if they get too warm, they can easily take the T-shirt off. The same goes for shorts – just put them on over the top of what they’re wearing on their bottom half.
This story was originally published in BESTSTART QUARTERLY, the OFFICIAL MAGAZINE of BESTSTART EDUCARE. Image at top: Nykie Groves-Eades