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9 tips for dressing kids for fall weather

Layering for fall is less about getting your little one to wear as many cardigans and jackets as possible and more about making a few wisely chosen layers count. Here are some tips on how to dress your little ones for fall weather.

1. Pay attention to the weather forecast

Fall can be a tricky season when it comes to dressing your kids: some days will still be very warm, while others can be almost as cold as early winter. In the first couple of weeks, your kids may not need to wear warm layers at all. However, as the days get progressively chillier, jackets, mitts, and other layers will become necessary. Make sure you pay attention to the local weather forecast so that you can dress your little ones appropriately, especially if they are spending time outside. The weather forecast can also help you decide what to pack for a day out (such as an umbrella or raincoat if rain is expected).

2. Dress in layers

Try mixing and matching layers to adapt as weather conditions change. That way, you can add layers if your little one is cold and shed them when they start to heat up. Here are some tips on how to layer:

  • A base layer for moisture management

This is the layer that is next to the skin, and it’s main function is to move perspiration away from the skin. In cool or cold conditions during the fall, wicking long-underwear-style layers will keep your child’s skin dry. Fabric options for base layers include natural fibers like silk and merino wool, or synthetics like nylon and polyester. 

  • A middle layer for insulation

The middle layer retains the heat radiated from the body. Items like puffy insulated jackets and fleece jackets are commonly used as middle layer pieces in the fall. Generally, puffier or thicker jackets indicate more warmth. How warm your child’s middle layer should be depends mostly on the weather expected. 

  • An outer layer for rain and wind protection

The outer or shell layer provides protection against wind, rain, and snow. This layer keeps water and wind from getting into the middle and base layers. A shell that is waterproof and breathable will keep your little ones comfortable, whereas non-breathable shells (such as plastic slickers and rain ponchos) can leave them feeling wet from the inside out because moisture from perspiration is trapped in the material.

Exactly what your child needs to wear during the fall depends on a number of factors, including activity level, age, outside temperature, personal metabolism, wind speed, and so on. 

3. Go for synthetics or wool fabrics

Cotton clothing is the top choice for casual summer day outings, but for active excursions during the fall, dressing your little ones in clothing made from wool or synthetics may be more suitable. These fabrics are better at wicking moisture and drying quickly, keeping your kids more comfortable if they’re running around or getting wet from the rain. 

  • Wool

Basic wool clothing is infamous for being itchy, but wool items that are designed for outdoors are often made with soft, ultra-fine merino wool that is itch-free, moisture-wicking, breathable, odor-resistant, and fast-drying. 

  • Synthetics (nylon and polyester)

Clothes made from synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester tend to be effective at wicking moisture and drying fast. However they often cling onto odors more than wool.

  • Cotton 

Cotton feels comfortable next to the skin, but isn't suitable for active outings on a fall day. This is because it takes too long to dry and is a poor insulator, so if your child gets wet from rain or sweat, it can leave them shivering.

4. Make sure you get the right size clothing

To allow your kids to run, jump around, climb, and have all sorts of adventures outdoors during fall, it’s important that they wear clothes that fit them properly. Ill-fitting clothes are not only uncomfortable but can also be dangerous - you don’t want your child tripping over pants that are too big or long. 

5. Don’t shy away from being thrifty

New clothes (particular shell layers) can be quite pricey, which is why it might be a good idea to look for hand-me downs. Siblings, friends, and extended family might have something you’re looking for. If not, look at online resellers or consignment shops. You can also try to double-purpose other apparel - thick wool socks can be used as crude mittens for toddlers or infants or synthetic pajamas can be worn as a base layer. 

6. Look for reflective accents for better visibility

As the days get shorter and darkness creeps in faster, reflective clothing becomes more important. Look for jackets with reflective logos or piping for better visibility. 

7. Find the right footwear

For active excursions like hiking, toddlers won’t need boots (sneakers should work fine) but make sure you have some extra socks with you in case there are puddles). Older kids, on the other hand, will benefit from a quality pair of hiking boots for tromping on the train and jumping off rocks.

8. Look for clothes that are easy to get on (and take off)

It’s no secret that dressing a child who can’t wait to go play outside is a struggle. When shopping for your little ones, look for clothes that have features which make them easier to wear. Things like elastic hems, cuffs, and waists help to keep in warmth but don’t come with the fuss of constant adjustments.

9. Accessorize the extremities

  • Face and cheeks

For those extra chilly fall days use a fitted fleece or wool balaclava to keep those little faces warmer. You can add another hat on top of it, but this may not be necessary. 

  • Feet

Wool socks are effective at keeping your kids’ feet warm in the fall. Layering with cotton socks is counter-productive and should generally be avoided. 

  • Hands 

Gloves and mittens will keep their hands warm. Unlike gloves, which shield each finger individually, mittens cover four fingers together, and the thumb separately. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves, so they may be the go-to choice for when fall is transitioning to winter, while gloves may be more appropriate for milder days. 

Final thoughts

Fall is a beautiful season where leaves change colors and family holidays are just around the corner. However, it also brings about cooler weather, which is why it’s important that your little ones are dressed appropriately. Try to find a balance between clothing that is warm enough but not overwhelmingly so. 

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