January chills and how to manage the cold with little ones

January is one of the coldest months in the Belle province of Québec. I don’t know about you, but I often find it tricky to dress my little ones this time of year. I remember finding it even tougher when they were babies, so I often asked for tips from other parents. If you also struggle with this sometimes, then I have a few tips to share.

Getting outside for fresh air and daylight is important for everyone but the experience will be much more pleasant if you and your children are comfortable and warm. 😊

Basic tips for dressing your children

  • Dress your child in loose layers using the three-layer rule when possible:
      • Layer 1, closest to the body, should be warm and wick away moisture.
      • Layer 2 needs to be insulated.
      • Layer 3 should protect from the rain, wind and snow.
  • For fabrics, try to avoid cotton as it tends to retain moisture and is not the warmest. Wool and fleece will generally be the warmest, but a blend of wool with polyester or another fabric can be good too.
  • Keep your child’s hands and feet as warm and dry as possible. Children’s feet tend to get colder than ours, so look for boots that are made for at least -20, but ideally -30 degrees Celsius. Look for a boot with a liner that you can remove to dry.
  • Mittens are warmer than gloves. Make sure they are insulated and, to protect your little ones from the snow, waterproof or resistant to wetness to help ensure they stay drier longer.
  • Protect the neck with a tube scarf that you can also pull up to cover the face. Avoid using wrap-around scarves which are a choking hazard.
  • Tuck pants in socks to prevent exposed patches of skin.
  • Use a warm, lined tuque or hat to block the wind and protect ears.

For strollers and sleds

  • When using a stroller, bundle up baby warmly with several layers, ideally with a windproof layer either in their clothing or in the form of a snuggle bag.
  • In a stroller or a sled, keep children warm from underneath. Sit them on a warm blanket or piece of fur in your stroller or sled to prevent a cold bum or back.


  • For babies, how you dress them varies greatly if you will be wearing them in a baby carrier that is up against your body, or if they will be in a stroller on their own and away from your body heat. In both situations, it is important to constantly monitor your baby’s temperature.
  • If you wear your baby in a carrier under your coat and directly against your body, dress them with at least one less layer than if they were in a stroller.
  • You will be able to monitor their temperature well since they are against your body. Check their hands and feet often as extremities tend to get cold quickly, including noses and ears.
  • It is crucial when baby-wearing outside in the winter to wear good, stable footwear so that you do not slip. Crampons (strap-on cleats) are a great option.

General tips

  • Check the weather forecast for the day and dress accordingly. Keep in mind that the Canadian Pediatric Association recommends that you consider keeping your children indoors when the temperature or wind chill is -27°C or colder.
  • Some good temperature guidelines for children aged 5 and younger when dressed well for the cold:
    • Temperatures 0 to -15 degrees Celsius: Play outside with no time limit or until your child feels cold.
    • Temperatures -16 to -26 degrees Celsius: Limit your outing to 20 minutes
    • Temperatures -27 Celsius and colder: Do not go on outings with your children. Stay inside as much as possible.
  • Keep in mind how active your child will be once they are dressed if they will be running around or just sitting in a stroller. This makes a big difference in how fast they can get cold and how many layers they will need.
  • Monitor your child’s overall body temperature often. You can do this by poking a finger down the neck of their coat or snowsuit to feel the lower part of their neck.
  • Take lots of breaks. Pop inside for a hot drink or bring hot chocolate with you outside in a thermos. Warm bellies make for warm hearts.

For more information and advice about winter safety, take a look at this great information from the Canadian Pediatric Society. Also, have a look at this great article from a Montreal mom about The battle to keep kids bundled up. Naître et grandir also has a great article called 26 Ways to Enjoy the Winter.

Jessica Price, Family Matters Program Coordinator

I know this is a lot to keep in mind. With time, we do get it down to a routine and dressing your child based on that day’s temperature or activity will come easily. Getting outdoors, even if just for a short time, does wonders for our minds and bodies.

Wishing you a wonderful January,



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