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How to choose raingear for kids

With spring rolling in, a lot of parents may feel stuck somewhere in the middle - the April showers are sprinkling, but there’s still not enough sunshine and heat to warm and dry everything up. This crazy in-between season is often fittingly called the “Mud Season”, and for parents that have kids, this is a time to invest in raingear that will not only keep their little ones warm, but also adequately protect them from all the mud, muck, and dirt.

Types of rain jacket designs for kids

  • Waterproof raingear

These are best suited for kids who will be out in the rain for extended periods. Waterproof gear can help to protect against stormy conditions. Breathable varieties also offer protection against the potential chilling effect that is brought about by sweating.

  • Water-resistant wind shells and raincoats

Any time you come across kids' outerwear described as "water-resistant", it won't fully waterproof, but it can still offer protection against light rain for short periods. Similarly, wind shells (sometimes known as windbreakers) offer limited protection.

  • Rain slickers

These are the most affordable type of waterproof kids' clothing. They're made with a waterproof, non-breathable polyurethane (PU) coat that keeps the rain out. They're appropriate for younger kids and toddlers, but an active kid can end up getting sweaty pretty quickly in them.

  • Rain protection gear for infants

To save yourself the expense of having to buy a separate rain jacket, consider bundling your infant in a warm infant suit, many of which feature a protective shell that is water-resistant. For further protection, consider getting a rain cover accessory for your stroller and child carrier.

  • 3-in-1 jackets

These typically feature a water-resistant shell as well as a removable fleece layer. 3-in-1 jackets are highly versatile as each layer can be worn separately. While they’re effective for some light rain protection, they may not be as adequate as a true rain jacket in a heavy downpour.

  • Insulated and snow jackets

These jackets offer varying degrees of protection against the rain, so you don't need to add an extra rain jacket to your kids' gear. To choose the right type of these jackets, you'll need to consider the amount and type of precipitation (a heavy downpour vs. a light mist) as well as how much time your kid will be spending outdoors, and whether they have waterproof or water-resistant properties. 

 Are rain pants necessary?

If you have an avid puddle stomper, you may want to invest in a pair of rain pants to complete your child’s rain protection outfit. Snow pants or the bottoms of a 2-piece snowsuit are both water-resistant and insulated to provide warmth.

What level of protection does your kids’ raingear offer?

The descriptions on kids' raingear can be confusing – don't "waterproof' and "water-resistant" essentially mean the same thing? What does “DWR” even mean? Here are some terms you may come across whether you’re shopping online or in-store:

- Waterproof

This is a piece of rainwear that is made of fabric that keeps out water and effectively keeps the wearer dry. It also has fully taped seams, and some models even have built-in membrane lining. The amount of rainfall that a waterproof garment can protect against depends on its assigned waterproof rating, which is measured in millimeters (mm). For a garment to be classed as fully waterproof it must have welded or taped seams that ensure no water can pass through.

- Water-resistant

A water-resistant jacket has a repellent coating applied to the outer fabric to prevent water from penetrating through it. However, it does not feature fully taped seams – this simply means that if your little one has on a water-resistant jacket in a steady downpour for a long time, the water will eventually soak through.

A water-resistant jacket will be cheaper than a waterproof one with similar features, so you can choose one that also has the added advantage of being wind-proof for a mid-range cost.

- Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish

Most rain jackets made for kids (both waterproof and water-resistant varieties) have a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating that enhances rain protection. You may notice raindrops beading up on the surface of a jacket – this indicates that it has a DWR finish. The coating prevents the water droplets from spreading out and soaking the shell of the jacket.

Factors to consider when choosing kids’ raingear

  • Closures on hoods, hems, cuffs, and waists

Elastic closures are effective at sealing in warmth, plus they save you the hassle of having to constantly adjust tabs or cords.

  • Warm liners

Some jackets feature a lightweight fleece liner for added warmth. If you go for an unlined rain jacket, make sure it’s big enough to allow enough room to add a cardigan (or your preferred layer) underneath, especially if your child is out in particularly chilly conditions.

  • Breathability

A breathable jacket allows perspiration in the form of water to escape from the inside of the fabric to the outside. Breathability is an important feature to consider because if a jacket is effective at keeping the rain out but won't allow a kid's sweat to escape, an active child can eventually end up getting just as wet as if they didn't have protective gear at all. Therefore, if you have an active child who spends a considerable amount of time out in the rain, consider investing in a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable.

  • Jacket length

The longer the rain jacket, the more coverage it will provide. Most designs are waist length, although a few come down to the hips.

  • Reflective accents

Overcast days make kids a bit harder to spot. Choose a rain jacket that features strategically placed logos or piping as they will offer an added measure of safety in the evening or morning hours.

Final thoughts

Tromping in puddles (especially with a two-footed stomp) is one of the greatest joys for kids during the spring. On the other hand, kids hating wet and chilly – this is likely to happen if they’re playing in the drizzle that created the puddle. To prevent this, make sure you dress your little puddle-stomper in the proper raingear.

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