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Winter Clothing

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Winter is always a bit of a surprise. You know it’s coming, it’s always the same time of year, but it always seems like the weather changes overnight. The days are suddenly dark. The Sun feels dramatically further away today than it did yesterday. Snow and wet and wind and rain and ice. All of a sudden.

And with that, the accessories come out.

Winter also always seems to require a lot more gear and preparation than other seasons. We thought we’d take this change of seasons to provide some hints about Winter Clothing for children.

For adults, sometimes it seems to be a choice between fun and practical. The cute hat isn’t very warm, or the waterproof coat only comes in solids, not cheery prints.

Fortunately, there seem to be significantly more options for children. This means the compromise of the hat a child will wear and the level of warmth a parent is comfortable with can meet in the middle.

Let’s start with accessories.

Mittens can often be easier to put on than finding an individual home for each finger in gloves. The ones made out of the same waterproof or -resistant material as coats can keep fingers cozy when there’s fun snow to play in, while having a pair of polar fleece or even knitted mittens in the car for a quick run into the grocery store can be helpful.

Boots seem to get more use than shoes during these cold months. It can be helpful to find a pair that are waterproof and insulated, so if it’s cold, or wet, or both, you don’t need to change shoes. One pair of boots during winter, no matter what it looks like outside — rain or sleet or snow or freezing. One less decision to make is always a good thing!

Balancing to put on boots can be tricky. Some boots stand up straight, and the opening is wide, so a child has a good chance to be independent with slipping their foot in, whether standing and balancing or sitting and pulling. Some boots even come with pull straps or handles, which is definitely a bonus!

We like to use a technique we call “Up and Over” to help children put on their own coats. We’ll try to explain it here.

Put the coat on the floor in front of you, with the outside of the coat to the floor, and the tag or hood near your toes. If it looks upside down, you’ve got it right!

Bend over and put your hands into the holes where the sleeves start.

Stand up, raising your hands over your head with straight arms, pushing your arms into the sleeves.

This is where the name “Up and Over” came from.

Like magic, your coat slides into place!

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This is a technique that truly is like magic once a child gets the hang of it. This is how 29 children can put on their own coat. Even the youngest children can do this, with a little practice.

Speaking of practice…

Have you ever gotten a new outfit, and you just can’t wait to wear it? It’s tempting to wear it to cook dinner, or clean, or just lounge around the house, because it’s just so fun to have these new special things.

New (or new to you) winter items are just the same! Capitalize on this excitement about new boots or a snowsuit or mittens, or the whole ensemble, by allowing, even encouraging your child to practice putting on and taking off their items.

It can be easy at the beginning of the season to tell a child, “Don’t put your mittens on first, otherwise you won’t be able to put your coat on,” or even to put all the items on for them, but the real learning happens through trial and error. Feel free to make suggestions or observations, “It might be difficult to zip your coat with your mittens on.” since these help a child to make those connections, and to think about the process.

How can we help children be independent with a process? If there was a hook on the wall and a basket under it, would a child hang up her coat and snowpants, and keep her mittens and hat together? If there were a keychain on his zipper, would he still need help with his zipper? If I got mittens instead of gloves, would it save both of us a lot of time and frustration?

The good thing about observing and asking these kinds of questions of ourselves, is that by making things easier for a child, we’re often making things easier for ourselves in the process. It might mean finding a piece of ribbon, and tying it on that too-small loop in the back of the jacket, but it also might save countless times of picking a coat up off the floor.

Winter seems to last oh-so-long, and we hope these observations and notes help make it a bit more of a pleasant experience. For more about Winter Clothing, listen to this podcast!

Written by:

Charlotte Wood

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