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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!
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).
- 1. Patagonia Boys’ Snowshot Jacket, $199, Backcountry
Also available at Patagonia.
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.
- 2. Patagonia Baby Snow Pile Jacket, $119, Nordstrom
This smaller version is perfect for younger toddlers and babies.
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.
- 1. Discovery Rain Pants, $20, L.L. 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.
- 2. Columbia Ice Slope II Pant, $30+, Amazon
Also available for $65 on Zappos.
These pants provide more warmth and insulation than the rain pants.
- 3. Patagonia Snow Pile Bib Pant, $119, Backcountry
Also available in a coral color at Nordstrom.
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.
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.
- 1. City Threads Little Boys Thermal Underwear Set, $23+, 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.
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.
- 1. Patagonia Retro-X Fleece 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.
- 2. Sweater-Fleece Jacket, $12, Old Navy
It also comes in a hooded version.
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!
- 1. French Toast Toddler Boys' Fleece Jogger, $8+, 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.
- 2. Alpaca Pants, $75, 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.
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!
- 1. Polarn O. Pyret Merino Wool Balaclava, $18, Amazon
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.
- 2. Outdoor Research Kids' Ninjaclava Headwear, $22+, Amazon
Also available at 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.
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.
- 1. Fleece-lined Mittens, $5, 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.
- 2. The North Face Toddler Mitt, $27+, Amazon
Also available at 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.
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!
- 1. Sperry Saltwater Rain Boot, $50+, Amazon
Also available for $65 at 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!
- 2. Bogs Solid Waterproof Winter Boot, $27+, Amazon
Also available for $80 at Zappos.
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!
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.