IMG_3976 (2)Seven degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill of negative 11°. That’s the weather outside as I type this post, and overnight, the windchill will fall to -30°. I know puffy coats and carseats don’t mix, but I also know that weather this cold isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s potentially dangerous.  What’s a safety-conscious mom to do? How do you balance protection from cold and protection from the very real risk of car crashes, now increased by the terrible driving conditions that accompany ice and snow?

The answer is layers! Think about the four ways your layers can protect you:

  1. Base layer/moisture control. If you’re going to be active enough to sweat, moisture control is critical. If you’re just driving to the store or school, this isn’t nearly as important. (I usually skip this step unless my kids are going sledding.)
  2. Insulation. Long underwear, wool sweaters, fleece pullovers–all provide insulation without adding a bunch of bulk.
  3. Outer layer. From light weight windbreaker jackets to heavy winter parkas and snow pants, this layer helps whenever windchill is a factor and also helps to protect you from snow or rain.
  4. Extremities. Hats, gloves, socks, and boots all play a role in keeping extremities warm.

Here are some examples of what that looks like for two of my own kids.

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On the left are two outfits for my 6 year old, who weighs a little over 40 lb and rides in a True Fit. The first outfit is a sweater dress over a cotton t-shirt with heavy tights, leggings, and an extra pair of socks. The second outfit is a sweatshirt over a waffle knit shirt, heavy tights and thin leggings under blue jeans, and socks.

The outfit on the right came from my 10 year old’s wardrobe. She uses a Clek booster in the car. She has a t-shirt under a turtleneck sweater, and jeans over tights and long underwear with socks. Yes, the long johns are bright red, but no one is going to see them under jeans and socks.

Before we leave the house, they’ll put on hat and gloves. One of my favorite tricks is to wear a pair of stretchy, one-size-fits-all gloves under a pair of thicker gloves or mittens. Not only do layers mean warmth, but if you have to take off the thick pair to do something, the thin pair helps keep your hands from getting cold quite as fast. Boots provide insulation and resistance to water, including melted snow.

Finally, they do wear coats. To help reduce the bulk between them and the harness/seatbelt, I have them unzip before buckling up.