Winter is coming. Or, given the snowflakes falling outside my window and the below-freezing temps as I write this, it’s already here. If you’re new to Vermont and looking for some ideas of what kinds of winter gear you’ll need and where you can find it both for your kids and for yourself, look no further!
Winter Gear for Kids
Most moms I talked to agree with me that the LL Bean Cold Buster Snowsuit is the way to go for the 2-5 age range. They are pricey, but you can easily get two seasons out of them with the Grow With Me seams that add about two inches to the arms and legs when removed. I also love that the nametag on the inside has a place for multiple kids’ names, so it encourages passing the snowsuit along! Hand-me-downs are always a parent’s top choice.
Another popular favorite for babies is the Zutano elf suit. This little number is not only cute but is also cozy and can be worn in a car seat. These retail for $43 new, but I picked one up at a local consignment shop for just $8! Keeping your baby warm and safe while in a car seat is critical. Most winter gear can not be worn while the child or baby is in a car seat (or while using a seatbelt, so these safer options are worth noting!)
Many folks like the Patagonia puffball buntings and jackets. While these are a pricey option, you can almost always find some at Boho Baby for a reduced price. I was lucky enough to get one of each as hand-me-downs, and let me tell you, the high original cost pays for itself in durability. When I received the jacket and bunting, both had previously been worn by two babies, then both of my babies wore them for a season, and they’re still looking practically new.
For small children, when it comes to accessories like hats and mittens, function beats form. And price is a huge issue, as littles lose hats and mittens constantly. Always write your child’s name in winter accessories (because more than half the kids will be wearing identical gloves from Costco) and buy in bulk. For little toddlers and babies, the consensus lies in fingerless mittens. Additionally, hats with a strap along the chin help keep headgear on even the most reluctant toddler heads.
In our house, the 2019-20 winter will forever be known as “Mittengate.” Our toddler refused to wear any mittens whatsoever. No matter how hard we tried, she would cry and scream like she was in fear and pain every time a mitten crossed her line of sight. Enter our savior: the thumbless mitten. As it turns out, her fear sprang from her thumb being bent backward when a mitten was being put on once and she thought it would hurt every time. Thumbless mittens went right on with no problem, and eventually, her fears were relieved. Then we worked up to waterproof heavy-duty mittens, starting first with a fleece pair with a fun character. Heed my warning: avoid your own mittengate, and get your toddler thumbless mittens.
When it comes to winter gear for the feet, many folks like Bogs paired with fleece liners and wool socks. Personally, I just pick up a relatively inexpensive pair of waterproof winter boots somewhere like Target or Walmart, and they do the trick just fine. Local moms have also noted that Once Upon A Child and Boho Baby are great spots for second-hand Bogs and other boot options.
Winter Gear for Mama
I’m a fourth-generation Vermonter and if you’re new to the Green Mountain State, let me tell you something about the winters here: they are cold, and they are long. Getting outside and making the most of the sunlight, rain or shine, is key to preserving mental health. When you’re outside with your kiddos, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable, too.
Everyone has their personal favorites, but one of my favorite places to get outerwear is Costco. It’s high quality, a decent price, and usually, they have something for the whole family. I just got this coat for $30 and it’s the warmest one I’ve ever had! In Vermont, we’re also lucky enough to be close to the Burton factory. One Vermont Mom hack is to make sure to check out their annual factory and sample sale for warm and trendy outdoor gear at a major discount. Plus-size moms can check out stylish and warm coats and snow pants at Lands End, and Columbia.
Mittens & Hats
My personal favorite is Carhartt mittens. Not only are they reasonable at $25, but they are also extremely warm and durable. I’ve had mine for three seasons of regular car scraping and sled pulling, and they have yet to show any signs of wear. A local favorite for a wide selection of hats, gloves, and mittens is Burlington’s Outdoor Gear Exchange, right on Church Street Marketplace.
Again, this is a personal preference, and again, function over form. You likely won’t be able to have warm feet and look “super cute.” Some local moms’ favorites include boots from LL Bean, Sorel, or Bogs. Make sure to layer wool socks for extra warmth, like local favorite Darn Tough which has a lifetime warranty!
While we’re talking winter gear, always remember, no bulky coats in the car. As the American Academy of Pediatrics says:
As a general rule, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. 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.
Check out their website for more information and tips for winter car seat safety. And be aware that a fleece blanket thrown over a child’s knees will always help to help a little one stay warm in a cold car.