Gear / Outdoor Play / Pregnancy & Baby

Baby Winter Essentials: How to Keep Baby Warm from Newborn – 18 Months

Last Updated: January 31, 2022

Getting outside in all weather is a challenge when you have an infant. If you and your child are properly outfitted for cold weather, you’ll be content for much longer! In this post, I’ll cover all the baby winter essentials. Tips for keeping your baby warm, and what baby winter gear for newborn babies to 12 months. And then what gear you’ll need for the next early walker/ young toddler stage for cold weather. Jump ahead:

How to Keep Baby Warm in Winter: Tips & Tricks for New Parents

  • Think layers! Layering is key to keep your baby warm in cold temperatures, but not overheated! In winter weather, we would do a long sleeves onesie (often with “mitt flips”), sweat pant/ leggings, and warm socks. Or a one piece PJs is another easy base layer.
  • Just one more layer than you have on. Babies don’t need to be crazy bundled. My rule of thumb is to see what you are wearing and add one additional layer for your baby.
  • Check their neck. If you’re worried about body temperature, the best way is to put your hand on the back of your baby’s neck to feel how hot or cold they are. You don’t want them to be too hot that they’re sweaty. That can create wetness which then can give them chills. You will get a better feel for how warm or cold they are as you get to know your baby’s signs!
  • Body heat transfers. If your baby is next to you, in a baby carrier etc, you will need far fewer layers on them. When my baby was a few months old, on a cooler fall day, he could be in a just one layer of clothing. In the baby carrier, with a fleece blanket wrapped around the outside and tucked in around the edges and he would be toasty warm!
  • Think about wind and ears. A fleece hat with ear flaps was my go-to baby accessory for going on walks on cold days. He kept warm and cozy.
  • Help dry skin. Some babies have more sensitive skin and get chapped cheeks in winter. If this happens, help keep them protected so the skin can heal, with Aquaphor or another baby face balm.
  • Size up and be open to hand-me-down items. Baby buntings are great to size up on as they’ll only fit into it for three seconds otherwise.
  • Make it easy to unbundle! If you’re going to be indoors or in a car seat, you’ll need an easy way to get them unbundled. Especially considering you might want your baby to nap and you don’t want to jostle them. We used a fleece hat, fleece blanket and muslin blanket quite often to layer and de-layer as needed. And in car seats, you can’t have lots of layers – so they are strapped in securely enough! So think warm, but not bulky, then the car seat straps, and then an extra layer like a small fleece if they need it. (Provided you can see that they haven’t pulled it over their head).
  • Instead of a stroller bunting, buy a baby bunting puffy snow suit in a larger size. Then you can use it as a cozy sleeping bag type bunting in the stroller. Remember, you’ll need to make sure they’re not disappearing into it. Roll the sleeves or legs up and pin back any layers if they won’t stay put. We used an 18 month baby bunting for two winters. The first year as a stroller bunting, second year as the intended snow suit! Bonus for this is you don’t need to add a million layers as these stay nice and toasty. Depending on where you live this is a winter baby essential! Think like the Scandinavians – bundle your baby and get outdoors!
  • Blankets! A simple muslin blanket will save you in so many instances. These blankets are so popular for a reason! I always had one in my stroller and if we were out and it suddenly started pouring or was windy. I would cover the stroller with it and tuck or tie in the sides. While not waterproof, it was always enough to get us where we were going. They also make great a car seat cover over the handle to block a cold breeze. Fleece wearable blankets or sleep sack are also great for nighttime or cold days in a stroller. One of the best baby essentials and also on our checklist for baby travel!
Best baby winter clothes

Winter Baby Essentials: Newborn to 12 Months

These winter items are great to put on your baby registry, if you’re planning in advance. You sometimes receive so many clothes for babies, so it’s nice to be able to direct people to practical things you’ll need – that are still super cute!

  • Long sleeve bodysuit onesies that have flip hand covers – the flip mitten cuff bodysuits were a winter essential for our newborn as a base layer for our fall/winter baby. Babies don’t keep their hands under a blanket. At a few months old, going for winter stroller walks, it is nice to be able to flip these over his little fingers and know he wouldn’t be in a continual fuss loop over being cold. Buy: Target $8
  • One piece baby bunting puff “snow suit” – These things are amazing! You can usually find some high quality used ones, as babies don’t trash clothes yet. Columbia and Patagonia are both great quality. A friend handed us down one of these. It was a size 18 month, but once he was all zipped in it was like a cozy sleeping bag. I used it in the stroller from about 6 months – 18 months. So don’t be afraid to size up a year and use it like that. Buy: Patagonia $50 (sale colors)
  • Fleece booties – we had the Luvable friends brand from Target. Then I found they were similar to the Zutano ones everyone was obsessed with. Size up, as they’ll last longer. Usually they’re wearing before they can walk anyway. A larger size just velcros higher up their ankle or calf with other socks underneath. These are especially nice to keep baby warm in a carrier on winter walks, or in the stroller for extra warmth. Buy: Amazon $9 or Zutano $22
  • Fleece blanket – fleece blankets are one of my favorite baby winter essentials. Great for tucking your baby in, to keep baby warm in a stroller or carseat. Put it over their lap, after you buckle them in, and even around a baby carrier for baby wearing. I used a fleece blanket as a baby carrier cover, and reversed a large rain jacket to tuck around and put the hood up, in a pinch.
  • Baby mittens – your best bet at such a tiny age is to either use “scratch mittens” and a fleece blanket. If they get their mitts out of the blanket they’re still protected. Buy: Target
  • Fleece lined beanie – Patagonia makes a great baby beanie to get you through the first year. You want a warm hat that is thin, soft, and covers the ears. Velcro strap can also be a nice option when needed to keep it on them. This was another of our top items to keep our baby warm in the stroller on winter walks. Cold air is actually really great for baby sleep! He would often fall asleep all bundled up on our stroller walks. Buy: Backcountry $35, (sale colors $15)

Winter Gear: 12 – 18 months

The great thing about reaching the young toddler stage, is many of their baby winter items will still fit! If you sized up on the snowsuit, fleece booties, blanket, and beanie you’ve saved some shopping and money. Here are some additional items for this next stage. And just like not all babies crawl or walk at the same time, you might not need some of these items until later.

  • Puffy jackets – as they are more mobile and toddling around, a puffy jacket is perfect for this stage. Size up a bit. An 18 month size will often work from about 12-24 months depending on their size and when winter hits. You’ll never forget their tiny adorable first puff jacket. Buy: Cat & Jack Puffer coats $27-$35, Patagonia $129 (sale colors $65)
  • Fleece lined hoodie – baby bear. Fleece lined anything makes great winter wear. Buy: Hanna Andersson
  • Fleece pants – Fleece pants as kind of a coverall over pants are great for the in between stage of outdoor exploring. Just walking, but not super adept. From around 15-18 months, we had two larger pairs of fleece pants that went over whatever baby leggings he was already wearing. It was nice for an extra layer and the fleece helped with moisture as well. Buy: REI $20
  • One-piece rain suit – Something you don’t think about before having a baby, is what season it will be when they are in the stage of dragging themselves around the outdoors or barely walking and falling constantly. Congratulations if it’s summer. If it’s the muddy season and you live anywhere colder, well you may want one of these rain suits. Ha! I ended up finding a used bib overall rain pants so I didn’t get the one piece. But they’re very popular for a reason! Buy: REI from $28
  • Bogs boots – we used these from about 12 months – 18 months. Great for when they first start walking and can work as rain and snow boots through long winters. You can usually find smaller sizes used in good condition. Especially since most babies aren’t walking a ton and trashing shoes until a bit older. Buy: Bogs Baby boots $30+
  • Mittens – Mittens or gloves can be hard until around age two, but it depends on your kid. You can also find some winter mittens that have a velcro strap. When it was cold enough and I put them on my little one, he didn’t pull them off. He couldn’t crawl around or play in them though. This is an area where it can help to shop REI to have the ability to try on and return! Buy: REI

Happy winter season adventuring! And when you’re ready for the next stage, check out my post on preschooler and kids winter gear.

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