New to MN: Advice on How to Dress an Infant (And Myself) for the Winter?

Updated on September 22, 2010
M.T. asks from Cottage Grove, MN
12 answers

We just moved from Colorado and I have questions on how to dress our 7 month old son for the Minnesota winter. Although he was born in Colorado in February, he was in the NICU for 10 days and on oxygen for 2 1/2 months with restrictions to stay in our home, so we didn't learn about clothing him through cold weather. The answers to these questions may sound silly, but I really don't know the answers. If you do, please reply. Should he wear baby long johns? If so, what brand or store do you recommend? How many layers do you dress your baby in? I've heard one more layer than me, but I don't know how many layers to dress myself in. Where can I get those baby seat covers for strollers or shopping carts to keep him warm when I'm transporting him from the car to indoors? What type of jacket, mittens, socks, and hats should I get and from where? What else do you use to keep your little one warm or comfortable and happy through the winter? Any other suggestions on what I should wear for myself to make it through the winter? Any advice is appreciated!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Welcome to MN!

When my babies were little this is what I did.

1. Get a Bundle Me if he is still carried in the car seat. I'm guessing he's getting too big for one, but if you still use it or plan to, they are the best. With a bundle me you can carry the car seat and just put a hat and medium jacket on him to go in and out.

2. If he is out of the portable car seat (which he probably will be soon, if he isn't already) then I bump up to a fleece "snowsuit" that has built in mittens and booties, and a warm hat. Generally, this is enough of a cover to go in and out from the car, flip the mittens over fingers and the booties over shoes, and in and out you go. I found Columbia ones at TJ Max, and also had a Lands End one as well. Here is a link to what I'm talking about...™-Fleece-Bunting-Baby/WN0...

For babies (under about 18 months) I never had full on winter gear (like a snow suit). It was just too hard for them to really be out in the snow. My third had more than the first because she did want to go out with her brothers. I had a big (size 2T) snowsuit that I'd kind of wrap the littlest ones in and stick them in the stroller with a blanket over to go for walks in the snow.

Once they start walking we had 1 pair of boots, multiple fleece hats (good ones from REI, not Target) and warm mittens (good ones from REI).

I liked my sling a lot for moving a bigger baby in winter. I'd have them in fleece, then sling them, and they stay pretty cozy.

I've never put my kids in long johns, but do often put a onsie under their clothing for the extra layer. I use the Robeez style shoes to keep socks on and feet warm.

Vasaline or Aquafore is important to put on little cheeks before heading out, it keeps them from getting chapped.

Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with LAYERS.

I wouldn't expect he'll be outside much - he's too little to play, so a snowsuit would be OK, just remember that they get very hot when strapped into carseats with the heat blasting. We loved the Lands End fleece one because the hands and feet flip back to give them some air. And it's not overly bulky.

I have one of those infant car seat covers if you want it, msg me.

We used lots of hand me downs since the kids grow out of stuff so fast! Check out Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle for used boots and snowsuits, they'll have a lot of life left in them.

I wouldn't stress about what type of hats, mittens, socks, etc. I mean you're from Colorado! You know more than you think! Just make sure you always keep him in one more layer than you - so use a onsie as an undershirt. And when in doubt, put a hat on his head - you lose 80% of your heat from your head.

As far as transporting him in and out once he's outgrown an infant carrier, we used a fuzzy/fleecy blanket to throw over their heads when it was particularly brutal.

Buy lots of "blanket sleepers" - those footie pajamas. He can LIVE in those all winter. They're quick, simple and no need for socks, shoes, etc.



answers from Des Moines on

We've lived in Iowa for 3 yrs., before that Denver for 8 yrs., before that Minnetonka, MN for 8 yrs., and before that Colorado Springs for 17 yrs., so I have lots of Colorado to Minnesota & Iowa experience.

We've found summers to be worse than wnters. Summers are hot, sticky, humid, lots of mosquitoes, mold, and staying inside where it is cool. We didn't spend that much time outdoors in Colorado winters, mostly running errands & going places, and you'll find the same thing happens in Minnesota winters. Only the native Minnesotan's & Eskimo's love Minnesota winters and get out in it ice fishing, snowmobiling, etc. Everyone else runs errands and stays inside where it's warm - pretty much like Colorado. The only time we, our babies & children dressed in layers was if we wanted to build a snowman, go sledding, etc. You pretty much go from a warm house to a warm job, shopping center, church, etc. You may have a very cold walk from the shopping center to your car, but it's not worth walking around the shopping center sweating with layers of clothes on. The difference for babies in Minnesota winters is that they will need a hat that covers their ears, heavy coat and/or snowpants or snowsuit, and warm mittens. In Colorado the hats, coats & mittens were lighter weight fabric and we rarely put snowpants or boots on the babies & kids, as the snow melted in a few days (down to bare ground) and the temps might be in the 40-60's during the day. If it was very cold in Colorado I just wrapped a blanket around their legs and carried them to the warm car.

As adults in Minnesota you'll want heavier coats & mittens than in Colorado - no more ski vests or light jackets in the winter. Think ski parka's to work & ankle length coats for church & dress up. Men wear hats in winter in Minnesota but women seldom due (they should) because it messes up their hair. Men & women need warm, lined boots in MN, but don't necessarily wear them every day or to work. You'll need them for shoveling, going for winter walks, getting the newspaper that got thrown in the small 3 ft. snow drift (yes, that's a very small drift in MN).

If you leave near a lake or pond, you'll see very strange :) people ice fishing with their cars parked beside them on the lake, sitting inside a little wooden house that looks like an outhouse, watching TV. They play a game on the ice called "Broom Ball". If you are in a neighborhood with a nearby lake or pond the neighbors get together, make chili, and everyone plays Broom Ball on the ice by taking a regular sweep broom and pushing a ball around on the ice. Hockey and ice skating at very popular in MN. There are lots of outdoor ice rinks that stay frozen all winter, not like having no outdoor ice rinks in Colorado because of the warm winter temps.

We lived in Denver and Colorado Springs for many years, where nearly everyone was a non-native, having moved from somewhere else, which I think made them a little friendlier, having left their families behind in another state. We found Minnesotan's to be friendly but more reserved. You'll find that lots of your neighbors have teenage children that are friends with other teenage neighbors, and the kids have known each other since kindergarten. The same with adult neighbors, many have been in the same house & neighborhood for 20 yrs. or more, therefore, the need to get to know and go "all out" right away with new neighbors isn't strongly promoted. Once you've been there a while the neighbors will gradually get to know you and are very friendly.

The culture in MN is very different from Colorado. When we moved to Minnetonka our daughter was starting middle school & son was a senior in high school. Kids dressed more conservatively, stayed more with their lifetime "click", and weren't nearly as active in sports. In Minnesota, traffic, people, and customer service moves at a much slower pace which can be exasperating.

Minnesota has LOTS of parks and family activities, which is nice. Colorado activities are more centered on young people (hiking, rock climbing, etc.), while Minnesota activities are more centered on children & young adults. Because of the bad winter & summer weather, Minnesotan's tend to become couch potatoes. You'll notice a BIG difference in the size of people in the Midwest, probably because summer & winter weather isn't conducive for exercise. Colorado also has one of the youngest populations. Minnesota & Iowa's have the oldest.

Minnesota has an overall, above average, great educational system. Colorado's is average, and Iowa (where we live) is way low on the scale.

I hope this helps.

The high humidity in winter will make the coat seem much colder, just like the humidity makes if feel hotter in the summer. You'll miss the dry climate.


I already answered but had to add a couple more things. I lived in Iowa, Colorado Springs 17 yrs., Minnetonka, MN 8 yrs., Denver 8 yrs., and now back to Iowa.

If you get cabin fever in the winter in MN, go to Mall of America. You can spend a whole day there with NO COATS ON! There are restaurants, movie theatres, shopping, wonderful aquarium, amusement park, etc.

Another nice place to go indoors in the winter is at Edinborough Park, in Edina. They have indoor ice skating and a fantastic 3 story tree house type structure with slides, etc., for kids to play on. They have other activities, also. Lots of planted trees, greenery, which you'll appreciate in the winter.

I hope you'll have a garage to park your car in - it's a must for MN winters. If not, many apartment complexes have outdoor plugs where you can plug your car in during the night so that it starts the next morning. Some of the larger companies have auto plug-in's in the parking lots, usually near the light poles. If you work and don't have access to an electric plug for your car, on maybe a couple of the worst days (Jan/Feb), you may need to go to the parking lot and start your car once or twice during the day and leave it running for about 15.

Lastly, I don't know what part of Colorado you're from, but I laughed at some of the comments from Minnesotan's who thought you would know what to do from having come from winters in Colorado. We're grandparents now, but I still receive comments from Midwesterners who have heard how bad Colorado winters are, and they think we're just going to love Midwestern winters compared to Colorado. If they only knew! Because people hear of many feet of snow at ski resorts, avalances, etc., they think that all of Colorado is that way. Denver and especially Colorado Springs is MUCH further south than Minnesota, therefore, other than in the highest mountains and ski resorts, Colorado winters are MUCH, MUCH milder than in the Midwest. Much less snow, much warmer temps (sometimes gets to 60's, rarely below zero, & dry), snow that completely disappears entirely in a couple of days, sunny almost 365 days yr., and we even had to water our lawns a couple of times each winter because of such low moisture & snowfall.

While living in Minnetonka, I worked for a company in Chaska, MN. The company was located near wide open spaces and the wind really blew hard, creating -50 wind chills. One winter some of the employees came to work on their snowmobiles, driving along country roads and in ditches.

Winters in Colorado last about 3-4 mo. max. In Minnesota they last 6 months. Spring and Fall are much nicer and prettier in the Midwest.

We liked Minnesota and found it to be a clean, alive, cultural place to live. We just didn't like the humid summers with the mosquitoes the size of small birds. :) A Minnesota joke!

Feel free to send me a private email.



answers from New York on

I'm sure you'll get some great answers. Just want to add ...

Onsies are great for the first layer. Even if he's inside and wearing pants and a shirt his middle will always be covered. Personally, I prefered one piece outfits or overalls.

Another piece of advise, always keep a blanket in the car. Fleece throws work great!



answers from Minneapolis on

We moved here from Colorado 5 years ago....welcome! I would just say lots of layers. It doesnt get really bad here usually until Dec or Jan. Warm clothing and a snow suit (most of them have hand covers). I would just make sure he is covered when you are outside. You can get those car seat covers at Babies R us or even try Once upon a Child. A hat that covers his ears. Any mittens will do as long as they stay dry. You do learn to not stay outside when it is so cold it hurts to breathe. It is definitly different than the Colorado dry snow winter. Stay Warm!!!



answers from Sioux Falls on

I live in SD now, but grew up in MN and make frequent treips back to the twin cities. My daughter was born in April. If you can get away with using the carrier car seat, I would do so as long as you can. Boy, I missed that when she outgrew hers (about 10 months).
I have heard that you do not want too much "padding" between baby and car seat straps, because if you would be in an accident, the padding could compress and make the straps too loose.
As others have suggested, we used a Columbia brand fleece snowsuit all winter. It was not too thick, so she did not get overly warm. Then we could just put a warm blanket over her fro transports to/from the car. We also had a warm fllece hat with ear flaps that tied underneath (and made it a little more difficult for her to get off. The Columbia brand snowsuit has feet and hand flaps, so you can just fold over as needed. She had a a pair of mittens, but did not use them much.
Since she was not walking for most of the winter, we really didn't need a big heavy snowsuit. Once she was walking in the spring, I found another Columbia (18 month size) snowsuit and some boots and she used those outside a bit. But really for the day-to-day use, I think a fleece snowsuit and a warm blanket would be fine. I didn't really care for the bundle-me things. If it is really cold, you can put a lighter weight receiving blanket over the top of the car seat handle to protect from the wind (so the blanket is not right on his face).
If we had to be out for longer periods during colder weather and had her out of her car seat, I just wrapped extra blankets... but when it is that cold, we really were not out that long.
This winter, she will still fit into the columbia warmer snowsuit (I found all of mine at garage sales, but I bet you could check Craig's list too, if you didn't want to spend the money on new).
As far as dressing, again, I agree with the other posts. I just always had a onsie on under her normal outfits. no long johns for her. I liked the robeez style shoes as well. (again, garage sales).
Cuddle duds for me!
Enjoy your 1st winter in MN!



answers from Minneapolis on

You need a good snowsuit; I always liked the ones from Lands End and LL Bean. You'll need warm baby blankets, and I found that polarfleece ones were great for winter. He doesn't need long johns, just a onesie and then outfits that cover his arms and legs. I'd get a polarfleece hat for him as well.

As for yourself, you do need long johns. Cuddleduds are fine, but silk ones (lands end, again) are great and lightweight and thin under your clothes. Thermaskins (Lands End) or something like it are good for outdoor activities. Get a great pair of boots. Sorels are terrific for cold weather. Get a warm parka -- I wear a down jacket in winter. A fleece scarf is nice because it wicks away the moisture from your breath, so it won't get wet like a wool one will.



answers from Minneapolis on

I dressed my daughter in one-piece outfits as long as she fit into them. I also like the one-piece snowsuits - no gaps for cold to get in. I had a Bundle-me, and later I got a bigger one so that we could go for walks in the stroller on quite cold days until she was 4 or 5. REI has very warm snowsuits for older kids who are going to be out playing in the snow. They are worth the money!



answers from St. Cloud on

#1 Make sure that when he is in a vehicle that he only has a light fleece jacket on so that the carseat straps are appropriately tight (prevent compression of a big fluffy jacket in an accident). A fleece blanket will work to keep any other coldness at bay. Generally I do a light jacket with gloves, a longsleeved shirt, warm pants/leggings, socks, shoes/boots, and a blanket over lap. Hat on while outside vehicle.

Your vehicle will be warm (generally). I recommend autostart/astrostart if you don't have it already. You will love it for winter and for the summer heat. At 7 months you will still be carrying him to and from places so he won't be outside too much.

As for your clothing, good jacket, hat scarf gloves (have available if not on), shoes/boots (have boots in vehicle at least in case you have to walk if go in ditch). Longsleeve shorts, maybe tank top underneath, jeans/pants. You will figure out soon enough how much you need. Colorado gets some wicked winter weather too. Expect -30 windchills. If you aren't wearing it bring it with. You can always add more if needed or take off if you over layer. But you have to have it with in order to do so. You will be fine. It does seem like it will be an early winter so don't know how mild or extreme it will be. The last few have been fairly mild through beginning of December. All depends on your location.



answers from Minneapolis on

We moved from CO about 6 years ago so know that it is definitely colder here. As for your son, we were told that we should put our child in the same amount of clothing we would wear and to not "overdress." So he wore long sleeves with onesies and regular pants or one piece outfits. We used the bundle me inside the carseat carrier and I absolutely loved it. I didn't see the need to try to dress and undress an infant in a whole snowsuit when I was just carrying him from the car to inside. As many other people mentioned, a nice fleece blanket is always good to keep on hand "just in case." If you think you'll want to take him outdoors more, I do love REI, Columbia or Lands End for some good options as far as coats or snowsuits. One thing I didn't like was the coats that have a fleece lining that you can remove because the inside zipper seemed to irritate my sons chin when we would zip it up. We put our son in overall snow pants with a coat when he was 1 so we could take him out in the snow. I think we got almost 2 years out of the overalls by doing that because they were adjustable. Gloves are hard to keep on them at that age. We used fleece ones for back and forth to day care because they wewre easier to get on but for outdoors you'll want something waterproof with a velcro strap that goes around to keep them on. There are a lot of fun hats, we had one that velcro'd under his chin and covered his ears well. Hopefully that helps! As for you...I agree with cuddl duds but I only really use them in the dead of winter like Jan/Feb. Same with my longer coat. I highly recommend investing in good gloves, a hat and a scarf though! Our son loves to be outside so we invested in really good outerwear for ourselves too. Moisture wicking layers are good for outdoors. Unfortunately The Sports Hut and Hoigaards just had their tent sales but they might still have some deals in store you could take advantage of. My favorite purchase so far for "toaster" gloves by Swany! They are gloves and mittens in one and you can put one of those hand warmers inside. Welcome to MN!



answers from Chicago on

We have gone through the winters with a little one in MN and here are some things we have found to make it easier on ourselves :). With our little one the first winter we relied on sleepers and would put her in a snow suit when we would take her out. We'd also cover her with a blanket. I have several of those seat covers that my family has given me over the years- but I like the simplicity of the blanket.

In terms of getting our kids dressed as they got older- our daughter was one and loved to pull everything off of her- so we put tights on her everyday- maybe not so great for your little guy, but we definately did layers- tights, onesies and an outfit over the top. For gloves, if she could use her thumb whatever was on came off. We would put socks on her hands just to keep them covered.

If you work, get yourself a nice pair of dress boots- and a nice long wool coat. I swear by cuddleduds. All winter long I live in cuddleduds with yoga pants and sweatshirts.



answers from Minneapolis on

For the baby: I never did layers, I always preferred to just do warm clothes in single layers - it's easier to dress, undress and change diapers. So I purchased a lot of fleece pants and long-sleved heavier shirts like heavy cotton or flannel-type fabrics. One trick my mom taught me is to reach your finger down the baby's upper back a bit through the neck hole to check the baby's skin temperature. If it feels warm, the baby is okay. Keep blankets around if the baby seems cold but the best way to get the baby up to temperature is to hold him close. He'll automatically get to a comfortable temperature that way. Be careful not to over-bundle. I was obsessed with my girls not being cold and as a result I over-bundled them a lot. I would finally notice that they were sweating! You can get a carseat cover at Babies R Us which will work until he's out of that carrier carseat. Unless you're planning on playing with him outside, he realy won't need much in the way of a jacket and snowpants. Just some nice mittens and hat (Target) will work. Once he's out of the carrier carseat though, you should get at least a warm jacket. You probably won't need to get snowpants until next year. My favorite brand for jackets is Osh Kosh B'Gosh (sp?). There's an outlet store up in Albertville and they usually have a lot of good jackets on sale.

For you: Jeans, sweatshirts and sweaters will work fine. Layers are good if you get cold. Good luck and welcome to the wonderful state of Minnesota!

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