You've heard this before. But living in the arctic circle, we find that our toes still get cold and our chins freeze off it we don't wear the "right" things. Here is the down and dirty of what your child's teacher or caregiver wishes the children would wear. If you don't want to read all of this, there is a cool little info-graphic at the bottom of this blog post to break it all down for you. We will start at the base and then head outward! Also, there are links included but I am not a rep for any of these. These are just things I have found that work well over the years.
Baselayers: I don't wear them. Some people do. What is their purpose? Helps to regulate your child's body temperature! Moves moisture away from their body during play. Synthetic materials and merino wool are materials to look for in base layers. I don't have any favorites I recommend - these are easy to find at big box stores or outdoor gear suppliers.
Wool Sock: THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. A wool sock is a MUST have for cold weather play. It is a great insulator and moves moisture away from your child's feet keeping them toasty warm! Bottom line, if they don't wear them, you will hear "My feet are cold" minutes into playing in the snow.
The BEST socks I have found are SmartWool. They are expensive but worth the investment. Think of it as a boot liner and maybe that will help you feel better about investing in these. Lands End also has some that work well for a bit milder climates.
Boots: The brand we LOVE is BOGS. When paired with a wool sock, we have found these to be the most user friendly. They are easy for your child to get on by themselves and are comfortable for all seasons. Make sure they are SNOW boots! Some rain boots are insulated and these are not warm enough for playing in the snow. They must be rated for -30F. And there isn't any crazy liners that get all bunchy or smelly so that is a bonus.
SNOW-PANTS: Listen up. This is important. Most of us never even realized that snow-pants can be the detriment of having fun outdoors. Here is what you need to look for.
Quality: High quality snow pants are a must when children play outdoors multiple times a day. With a thicker outside material, children can play longer without water seeping through. I hate to say it but, the Target brand snow pants don't cut it. They will have wet butts and knees in an extended play session outdoors in the snow.
Elastic: Make sure there is a grippy material inside the liner of the snow pant. This goes around the boot and ensures the snow pants stay put around the boot,There is nothing worse than a boot full of snow.
Size: There is also nothing worse than snow pants that are too small. They slip up over the boot and just aren't conducive to happy children. Make sure you purchase snow pants a bit larger than your child. This will ensure a good fit over their boots and the right length for climbing up snow mountains.
THE BRAND WE LOVE THE MOST FOR OUTDOOR MN PLAY: Lands' End Squall Snowpants. Get the bibs for little ones.
Jacket: Look for a jacket that is high quality made of thick, waterproof material. The sleeves need to be long enough that when your child has their arms stretched out, you do not see their wrists. We love LANDS' END squall parkas. The elastic band around the waist keeps snow out when sledding.
Hat: A hat made up of two layers is best. Knit caps with one layer are not windproof. Hats that are large enough to cover the WHOLE ear are very important! If you can see the lobe of your child's ears: FROSTBITE. Hats that are too small pop off easily. These are easy to find. Just make sure it isn't too small.
Face-mask/Neck-warmer: There are many types of face-masks, balaclavas and neck-warmers to choose from. There are even combination face-mask/hats! It is necessary to keep your child's neck and cheeks covered and warm during outdoor play. Just say no to scarves. They get in the way and can be dangerous if caught on something. Here is a great all in one combo many of the children in my program wear!
GLOVES/MITTENS: Fingers are one of the first things to get cold and we have the winner winner chicken dinner of all kid mittens. They have a long cuff with generous elastic to go OVER your child's wrists (in case the sleeves are a bit short) and they are waterproof enough for an extended play session. The winner is Burton mini-heater mitten.