When the mornings and nights are dark, the leaves start to fall from the trees and the wind starts to bring a biting cold, you know you have to prepare for winter. As an adult, you’ve done this a ton of times, but with toddlers, it’s a new experience for them. If you don’t have any hand-me-downs, you’re most likely going to need some new winter clothes and accessories, as well as some winter considerations for the home. There is absolutely no way my toddler is fitting into anything he wore last year, that’s for sure! Autumn is a great time to have a wardrobe clear out and declutter as well, especially it your child will have outgrown his summer clothes next year, so there’s no need to hang on to them.
I’ll be covering the must have toddler essentials (which covers babies, toddlers and pre-school children, but also applies to older children too!) in three sections, clothes and accessories, in the home and play time.
Clothes and Accessories for Winter
It’s important to layer up in the winter. A lot of parents actually keep their children inside, or even send them to school in clothing that means they can’t play in the playground. Something that I really love about the nursery that William goes to is that they spend a lot of time outside, whatever the weather. As covered by the book There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing, appropriate layering and warmth is crucial. You want thin layers that can be stripped off when inside or overheated, and put back on to go outside, followed by a final warm layer. Think a sleeveless or short sleeve vest, followed by a long-sleeve t-shirt, followed by a sweater / jumper, and then your outer layers such as you coat and/or waterproofs.
Winter Coat and Waterproofs
There tend to be two types of outer clothing you’ll need for the winter. A warm winter coat that is padded or has fleece on the inside to protect against the cold, and then your waterproof layer. Sometimes you have a coat that does everything, but with toddlers, I’d recommend getting a puddlesuit or waterproof trousers as well. You absolutely know they’re going to get soaking wet and younger children are more susceptible to the cold. If the weather is variable, it doesn’t hurt to carry a thin poncho or waterproof jacket around too, they’re lightweight and take up very little space.
Wellies are an absolute must. Playing in puddles is going to be a big thing over the winter and wet shoes and socks are an absolute nightmare. A sturdy pair of warm winter shoes is also a good investment. Boots are an excellent addition to the winter wardrobe, but shoes are very expensive on the whole and they’re outgrown so fast, so I recommend sticking to the essentials unless you nab something in a sale!
A hat, scarf and glove set are going to be an absolute must for the winter. You’ve got a few options and I think it’s a good idea to let your toddler choose which colour and design they want. Before I was a parent I used to scoff at the array of superhero, book and cartoon character merchandise, but now I realize that if your toddler picks it – they’re much more likely to wear it. If Peppa Pig keeps my sons head warm, then so be it! Gloves are also available in standard finger gloves or mittens. Mittens are easier to get on and off and can usually be attached to the coat so they’re not lost.
If your child is prone to losing their mittens, you might want to pick up some super-cheat ones like this 12 pack for £10.99. Usually I am not an advocate for fast fashion, but in the winter, those fingers are going to get cold very fast and I know how hard it is to keep hold of a pair of mittens that a toddler doesn’t want to wear!
We love a new pair of pyjamas so any excuse is good with me! A new pair of pyjamas is always exciting on Christmas Eve in our family as well, so it makes a lovely addition to a Christmas Eve box. In the winter if still in sleepsuits you want to make sure that you’ve got long arms and legs, and again with pyjamas, full length trousers and long-sleeved tops to protect against the chill. I’ve found that Marks & Spencers is one of the few places you can buy sleepsuits in 2-3 years, and they’re primarily online, but they’re affordable and warm.#
Should you buy a toddler umbrella?
Note that I haven’t bothered recommending an umbrella. You can buy toddler umbrellas, including those attached to franchises like Hey Duggee or Spiderman etc. but in my experience, at least in the UK, a toddler umbrella isn’t a good financial investment. They are broken easily and a gust of wind will very easily take an umbrella from a toddler, leaving you running across a muddy field chasing it, full of regret. Trust me, I know from experience. Therefore I’d recommend waterproofs instead.
Winter Adjustments In the Home
Duvet or Sleeping Sack
You’ll need to switch to a winter duvet or sleeping sack by checking the TOG rating and finding one which suits your house. It will depend on your ambient heating, but we find that a 9 tog duvet is ideal for winter, whilst we use a 4.5 tog during the summer. I’m not an expert and it can get quite complicated, but here’s a comprehensive guide that you should find very useful when choosing the type of duvet and the tog rating for your child (or for you!).
Hot Water Bottle
Hot water bottles are a great way of warming up the bed for your toddler, just keep safety in mind and make sure you fill up the water bottle and make sure it’s safe and secure. We absolutely love our hot water bottle from Potwells. Zavi the Zebra (photographed above, there’s also a dinosaur and a unicorn) is a whopping 75cm long, made from soft fleece and has a capacity of 2 litres – staying warm for 6-8 hours. It’s machine washable as well, which I think is super important when you have a toddler. I find that William sleeps much better at night when his bed is warm, which means we sleep better too.
Setting your Thermostat
If you’ve got little ones you might have to set your thermostat a little higher than usual on the heating, and if they get up early in the morning, set it a little earlier so the house is cosy. My son has a tendency to throw his quilt off the bed and sit there freezing rather than snuggle up warm and it’s hard to monitor so I have to keep the heating higher than I would have done before him.
Draughts in the home can account for a great loss of heat which children can be sensitive to. Make sure you check the windows, especially in the kids room and your front and back doors which are the entry points for gusts of wind. If you’ve got any draughts at all, look into getting a draught excluder. You can get some lovely ones for kids rooms like this sheep, the only problem will be stopping them from cuddling it!
Play Time in the Winter
Where to go on a rainy or cold day
You don’t have to stay at home just because it’s pouring down with rain or freezing cold. From museums, to soft play, to aquariums and more, I’ve put together a list of 10 great places you can enjoy a day out with a toddler no matter how terrible the weather is.
Get out and make the most of it
We’ve already discussed appropriate clothing, so if you’re all decked out, warm and waterproof – why not just brave it? Mud is fun! Snow is amazing! Sometimes it’s best to just get out there, get fresh air and exercise and then head home for a change of clothes and a warm hot chocolate.
I’ve made a list of 10 outdoor activities you can do in the winter, and only one of them requires it to have snowed!
Indoor Activities for the Winter
Sometimes though let’s face it, the weather is either too dire, or you just can’t face it. If your toddler is sick or tired, then braving a snowstorm definitely isn’t a good idea. And sometimes you just want a warm, cosy day indoors and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Here are some ideas for indoor activities you can do through the winter:
- Build a pillow fort
- Get in the kitchen and have a toddler bake-off
- Messy play with slime and bubbles
- Do some winter themed arts and crafts
- Make a bird feeder to hang out for the birds
- Have an indoor picnic
- Build something epic out of Duplo or Lego
- Role play (it’s really good for development!)
- Paint stones or leaves ready to leave outside
- Play music and have a dance session
If all that sounds rather overwhelming, don’t worry – everyone needs a PJ and movie day now and again to rest and recuperate, so don’t feel guilty if all you’re doing today is watching Frozen. Give your toddler a cuddle and relax.
I hope this guide to toddler essentials over the winter has been helpful. If it has, please leave a comment or share, thank you!