I‘ve had snow in my yard since before Christmas.

Crazy, right? I know. Between the intermittent snow storms that keep rolling in, the inversion, and the cold temperatures, the snow around here hasn’t melted in months. We’ve had a couple of warm streaks here and there, but nothing long-lasting enough to make it go away.

It makes going outside a bit of a production. Snow boots, waterproof insulated pants, gloves, hat, warm coats… it’s a lot, especially just to go outside for a quick play session in the middle of the day.

I don’t really mind all that much, but when I need to take my newborn along, it’s a lot to do. I’m a fan of making things as easy and simple as I can, especially where my kids are concerned. Less fuss, the better.

But kids take a lot of effort and the snow requires a lot of gear – and when it comes to gear, what are the best and most important pieces to have, especially for kids under five?

I’ve been asked what my favorite essentials are for taking little ones out into the snow, and I thought I’d share them here. I’ll order them from bottom to top layer.


1. Non-cotton long underwear & socks.

You won’t always need this, but if it’s really cold out, you’ll need these for keeping your kid warm. The important thing to note about long underwear is, it should NEVER be cotton. If cotton gets cold or wet, it will actually keep you cold and wet.

You’ll want something that’s more effective in wicking moisture away from the skin and keeping you warm. I’m a fan of merino wool for long underwear, but any synthetic under layer will work well, too.

2. A one-piece snowsuit (for toddlers) or insulated snow pants & jacket.

Now that Rowan is a bit older, we use pants and a jacket, but when your child is still a toddler and you don’t have to worry about potty training, a one-piece suit is the way to go.

Make sure whatever you put on your child is insulated. Shells aren’t warm enough unless you add another layer or two underneath – and extra layers on children, while keeping them warm, restricts movement and makes it harder for them to run and be active.

There’s differing opinions on the best method, but for just basic play time outside, I think maximum warmth with minimum layers is the easiest for small kids. (I would opt for multiple thinner layers for older kids participating in snow activities – skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.)

3. Snow boots with a drawstring top.

These are a must, especially if you’re going to be in snow deeper than four inches. When they’re not in snow pants or a snow suit that covers the boots, the drawstring top keeps snow from coming in over the boot, protecting your child’s ankles and feet from the cold.

4. Waterproof, fleece-lined gloves or mittens.

We prefer the mittens (because it’s still difficult for Rowan to get his individual fingers into gloves), but either will do. It’s hard to roll snowballs with bare hands. Warm hands are happy hands!

5. A warm, knit hat.

Fleece-lined is even better, and a hat that covers little ears is the best. Keeping your child’s head warm can actually help prevent cold-weather illness, and generally keep your little person happy in the cold. It’s also important to protect their head and hair from incoming snowballs.

6. An extra large ice cream scoop.

Pretty much the best snowball maker ever.

What do you think? What are some of your winter must-haves for kids?