If several inches of snow piling up on your porch right now makes you loath the thought of venturing outside with your toddler this winter season, fear not!
As a mom with an active 2-year-old, Sebastian, I had to find the best winter gear to keep him warm and cozy without making him look like a puffy yeti or causing an abominable snowman-style meltdown. Here is my "Bash"-approved roundup of our favorite items that will keep your little guy toasty (and stylish) until the spring!
1. Waterproof winter coat
If you buy only one coat, a parka is the most versatile piece that will take you from the classroom to the playground in style. A high-quality winter coat with built-in insulation and waterproofing is the one winter gear essential worth the splurge. Look for jackets with adjustable hoods, sealed or lined seams, waterproofing, reflective taping and insulating layers (many of which zip out for added versatility).
Patagonia Boys’ Fresh Tracks Jacket, $179, Moosejaw
We love this trusted outdoor brand’s jackets for their warmth and durability. Both baby and boys’ styles are breathable, waterproof and insulated to give your little one extra hours to burn off energy at the playground. It’s highly likely that these jackets will get your toddler through two winters, as they feature extendable sleeves.
Patagonia Baby Snow Pile Jacket, $119, Backcountry
This smaller version is perfect for younger toddlers and babies.
2. Waterproof pants and bibs
Unless you live in the Arctic or plan on lots of time playing in a winter wonderland, investing in a snowsuit for outdoor play is expensive. For one-time sledding excursions, a pair of rain pants over several insulating layers will provide a waterproof outer layer. But if you are raising a polar bear cub who loves snow sports, a snow suit just may warrant the investment. We prefer a separate pair of pants to make potty trips easier. Alternatively, look for bibs with simple clips or zippers that unfasten quickly to prevent accidents.
LL Bean Discovery Rain Pants, $20, LL Bean
For just $20, you can’t beat these waterproof pants. They're easy to pull on and off quickly and adjust to accommodate insulating layers for colder weather.
Columbia Kids Ice Slope II Pants, $45, Zappos
Patagonia Baby Snow Pile Bibs, $119, Moosejaw
These bibs provide waterproof, insulated comfort without a whole lot of bulk. The deep front zipper accommodates easy on and off mobility while the pant legs extend a few additional inches as part of Patagonia’s grow with me functionality.
3. Moisture-wicking base layers that aren't itchy
Choosing the right combination of layers is essential to maximizing your child’s warmth while minimizing the potential for epic meltdowns prior to even getting out the door. Cozy base layers snuggle up next to your toddler’s skin and should focus on keeping him dry. Our favorite under-layers are made from moisture-wicking fabrics such as merino wool, Polartec and Capilene.
Polarn O. Pyret Nordic Snow Merino Long Johns, $43, Amazon
We love that these 100 percent merino wool pants are extra soft and not the least bit itchy. The Nordic print also makes them a stylish pajama alternative.
Polarn O. Pyret Merino Wool Sweater, $35, Amazon
City Threads Boys' Thermal Underwear Long John Set, $24, Amazon
For less than $25, you can stock up on this thermal set, which also comes in a variety of colors. This versatile must-have is made in the USA, and will keep your toddler dry and comfortable in the winter months ahead.
4. Mid-weight fleece jacket
Middle layers are all about trapping and insulating body heat for warmth. We love fleece jackets, which do double duty as a great mid-layer for colder climates and make the perfect outerwear on warmer days. We always bring a lightweight fleece for car rides as it’s a bulk-free way to stay warm on-the-go, especially after you remove puffy coats for car seat safety.
Patagonia Retro-X Windproof Fleece Vest or Jacket, $79, Backcountry
We love this shaggy-styled fleece jacket so much that we always get either the vest or jacket version every year. The oatmeal color pairs well with any pair of pants, from flannel-lined jeans to a more monochromatic look with tan khakis.
Old Navy Sweater-Fleece Zip Jacket for Toddler, $19, Old Navy
Stock up these fleeces that will keep your toddler warm with a more fitted shape. As a mom, I love these fleeces for their quality — they hold up so well in the washing machine!
5. Sweater pants
French Toast Boys' Fleece Jogger Pant, $18, Amazon
These comfy cotton-blend fleece pants make play time easy, with a convenient drawstring closure at the waist for a secure fit. The front and back patch pockets add some extra style, especially with a pair of retro kicks for a full athleisure look.
Sasha and Lucca Alpaca-lined Pants, $55, Sasha and Lucca
They are a bit pricier, but we love these 100 percent Peruvian alpaca sweater pants! Not only are they super stylish but they are also lined in the coziest Pima cotton.
Gymboree Sweater Fleece Joggers, $15, Gymboree
At just $15, we love how these slim-fit joggers in fleece have a cozy sweater-like exterior, equally great for snuggles and active play dates.
6. Balaclava (ski mask)
Not to be confused with baklava (the sweet, dessert pasty) as I’ve been guilty of calling it! While we are partial to knit beanies purely for aesthetics, nothing beats a balaclava for those blustery days (we should know after spending the last 15 years facing brutal Chicago winters). This ski mask-style headgear acts as a hat, ear-warmer and scarf. Your toddler can fold it over as a neck warmer or hat. Plus, you won’t have to worry about him suddenly yanking it off!
Polarn O. Pyret Merino Wool Balaclava, $26, Polarn O.Pyret
Swedish design for Scandinavian winters — what more could you ask for? We love how this one is 100 percent merino wool and zero percent itchy.
Outdoor Research Ninjaclava - Kids', $18, Backcountry
Your little one will stay dry for more fun-filled play time in the snow or on the slopes with this moisture-wicking, low-profile head and neck layer — perfect for added warmth under a helmet or hood.
This is the best selling windproof ski mask for kids on Amazon.
7. Stay-put mittens
Keeping Bash's hands warm was our biggest battle last winter — a battle that he won most of the time to our dismay and his cold hands. When he was a baby, we could do a lot of tucking under blankets in the stroller. Now that he spends so much time outside, mittens are a must. A couple of tips: Mittens are much easier to put on than gloves, especially for younger toddlers; and stock up on a few pairs made for various occasions because you will inevitably lose some.
H&M Fleece-lined Mittens, $7, H&M
These everyday fleece-lined mittens will help keep your little one’s hands warm while out and about. At this price, stock up with some spares just in case your toddler spontaneously breaks out his snowman-making skills.
North Face Toddler Mitts, $27, Backcountry
This style is perfect for an extended playground session or snow sports because they're waterproof and insulated. Look for pairs that ride high on the child’s wrist and fasten easily for fewer on and off struggles.
Hanna Andersson Fleece Lined Mouse Mittens, $20, Hanna Andersson
Alternatively, look for mittens with an attached string that laces through your child’s jacket to help keep them secure.
8. Waterproof lined boots
Whether your toddler is sledding the slopes or blazing slushy trails down urban sidewalks, a pair of warm, waterproof winter boots is a must, but keep these pointers in mind: They should be waterproof, warm and easy to take on and off. Don’t forget the wool socks to keep those tootsies dry!
Sperry Kids Saltwater Boot, $65, Zappos
Bash had no problem walking through winter slush in these waterproof, fleece-lined, super stylish duck boots. We especially love how the side zipper makes them so easy for our little guy to get them on and off by himself!
Bogs Toddlers’ Baby Bogs Boots, Classic Dino, $55, LL Bean
This is the No. 1 brand in my mommy group when it comes to top-rated winter boots. While the neoprene outer looks plush and flexible, it’s also 100 percent waterproof. The dual-side handles make this style super easy for those independent toddlers who must “do it myself” or parents who need to get out the door quickly!
An honorable mention...
Gap Fleece Lined Puffer Hoodie, $78, GAP Kids
It's worth a mention that we had this trusty jacket this in our rotation last year and it held up perfectly for everyday wear. It even kept my toddler warm — thanks to its micro-fleece lining — while we trekked 10 blocks in a snowstorm to a play date!
However, its outer layer is water-repellent, not waterproof, meaning you may need to give it a once-over with a waterproofing spray before heading out to build that snowman.
For more kids clothing, check out our list of the top places to buy kid's clothes online!
Katie Dill is a former strategy and management consultant who exchanged her life on the road to focus on her most demanding client to date, a 2-year-old named Sebastian (Bash). Katie launched Bash & Co., a lifestyle and fashion platform for families in 2017.