6 Tips on How to Dress Your Baby in Winter for Comfort & Safety

You want your baby cozy and happy no matter the season. Keep them safe and warm this winter with these parent-approved tips!

Published December 7, 2023
baby in winter jacket

With the cold temperatures settling in for the season, many new parents may be wondering how to dress a baby in winter. While the immediate inclination might be to bundle them up, too many layers can actually be dangerous since babies have trouble regulating their temperatures.

So, how much is too much? We've been there too, and we detail how to keep your little one warm and safe this winter season. 

Dressing Your Baby in Winter Weather 

Dressing your baby in winter can seem tricky, but it doesn't have to be! These simple tips will help ensure that your baby's temperature stays just like Goldilocks likes it, just right.

1. Focus on Light Layers

For folks who tend to spend most of their time indoors throughout the chilly winter months, you will want to dress your baby the same way you would during any other time of year — in light layers. Aim for thin, long-sleeved shirts or bodysuits, leggings, and socks. For newborns, also consider adding mittens to the mix while inside. 

baby inside in winter

When it's time to head outside, add more light layers. These can include a sweater, sweatshirt, thermal-knit tops, or thin fleece. These will help to trap in their body heat. Parents should then add coats, hats, and gloves if they plan to spend extended time outside in the cold. 

2. Use Waterproof Layers During Winter Play

Heat loss occurs much more rapidly when a person is wet. This makes waterproof apparel important for winter weather play. Some great options to invest in include:

baby in winter
  • Swiss Tech Snowbib: I cannot say enough good things about this winter overall. It is waterproof, windproof, warm, and affordable. It also covers the majority of your child's body, making it very hard for them to get wet when playing in the snow.
  • Rainboots: These are a versatile option for littles who tend to grow out of their clothing and shoes quickly. When shopping for options, look for rainboots that have an intricate tread pattern on the base of the shoe. This can prevent slipping. Also, aim to buy them in a slightly larger size. This provides wiggle room for thicker socks and it extends their shelf life into the spring and even summer months as their feet grow.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Just check that they aren't tripping when wearing the bigger boots with thick socks.
  • Winter Coat: Water and windproof jackets are another great investment that can come in handy throughout the fall and winter seasons. 
Helpful Hack

I love to purchase my boy's winter gear at least one size up. This ensures that their many layers can fit underneath and also allows them to use these products for more than one winter season. 

3. What Babies Should Wear in Car Seats During Winter 

As parents, it's good to remember that a car seat is the insurance policy on a child's life in the event of a crash. When a baby is in a car seat in winter, they should wear light layers. Their coats, puffy vests, and other thicker layers need to be taken off every time you put them in the seat and then put back on when you bring them out in the cold.

baby in winter in car seat
Need to Know

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat." This makes removing these layers extremely important. 

For parents who are worried about their baby staying warm in the car and during quick transit periods, blankets are a fantastic option! Layer one or two over the majority of their body after they are buckled in. This can keep them cozy until you get to your destination.

Poncho-tyle jackets can also be a spectacular option, allowing you to keep your child bundled while buckling them under the thick layer of fabric.

4. Accessorize at Specific Times

When your kids are outside, you want to make sure that their heads, necks, and hands are well covered, but when you head back indoors, it's important to take these layers off. This will not only prevent overheating, but it can also prevent strangulation and suffocation risks. 

baby in coat in winter
Need to Know

Many new parents wonder if their baby should wear a cap while sleeping in the winter because when their baby is born, the hospital staff puts a cap on their head to sleep in.

However, as soon as your baby leaves the hospital and the consistent monitoring that comes with that stay stops, American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines say they should never sleep with a cap, hat, or hood of any kind because they are a suffocation risk.

5. Prioritize Safe Sleep in Winter Months

Just like during the day, when you put your baby to bed in the winter, you want to focus on light layers, just like you would during any other time of year. The only difference is that you will want to upgrade from short-sleeved onesies to long-sleeved ones.

Fleece options can be a good choice for keeping your baby comfortable if you keep your house at recommended temperatures, but if you find that your baby wakes up in a sweat while wearing this type of apparel, then it's best to stick with lighter and more breathable options. 

Finally, while it may seem like your baby needs a blanket, loose bedding is not recommended for babies under the age of one. 

baby in crib
Need to Know

The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that 68 to 72 degrees is the safest temperature range for sleep. They also recommend running your ceiling fans. These are two simple ways to help prevent SIDS.

6. Be Cautious With Car Seat Covers

When walking outside for short periods, car seat covers can provide an extra layer of protection from the cold and the wind, but once indoors or even just in the car, these need to be removed. Why?

They trap in heat, and if your baby is already loaded up with layers of clothing, this can cause them to overheat. Even more important, if they remain covered for long periods, it can limit their airflow, which can be dangerous.

Limit a Baby's Time Outdoors During the Winter

While outdoor winter activities are hard to resist, it's important to remember that infants six months and younger should spend very limited time outdoors in extreme cold temperatures. For toddlers, have a blast outside, but just make sure to take regular breaks, just like you would with the summer heat. Finally, a good rule of thumb for how to dress a baby in winter is to add one more layer than what you think you would need. 

6 Tips on How to Dress Your Baby in Winter for Comfort & Safety