Updated: Oct 27, 2020
by WSP parent Rachel Ullman. Illustrations by Nora Sheehan '04.
Our Early Childhood teachers at the Waldorf School of Princeton impress upon parents the importance of keeping our children warm , especially during the ages of birth through 7, when so much of our little ones’ energies are devoted to developing their bodies. Daily outdoor play, even in wet, muddy, snowy conditions, is equally valued as part of a child’s physical development. Some of our students’ favorite play times in our natural play yards are when they can make full use of the mud kitchens, construct snowmen, and pull each other on sleds.
So, how do you dress your child for keeping warm in outdoor play and exploration? Layers and proper gear! As the Scandinavian saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Rainy, Wet-Weather Play:
Base Layer - Your child may already be dressed in the appropriate clothes for the day, based on the weather.
Top Layer - A good rain suit or rain jacket and rain pants. Rain pants, even without the rain jacket, are great for play when it’s not raining but you still want the protection from wet and muddy bottoms!
Hands and Feet -
Socks (thin wool socks help repel water so you don’t end up with wet socks!) and rain boots or wellies are great puddle jumping and even shallow creek exploration.
Cold-weather and Snowy Day Play:
Base Layer - An undershirt (even long underwear) made of natural materials like cotton, silk, wool, or a blend of those. Amazingly, wool has a natural antibacterial property that allows you to only need one or two undergarments, so that you only need to air them out between uses and launder infrequently, when it’s really needed.
Top Layer 1 - Comfortable play clothes, long sleeves and long pants. In very cold conditions, perhaps even a sweater or sweat jacket for extra insulation.
Top Layer 2 - Warm jacket or coat, heavier as the weather gets colder, and water/weather-proof snow jacket in snow play. Snow pants.
Head and Neck - Warm hat to cover ears and a scarf for neck, or a balaclava/hood-style hat to cover both head and neck together.
Hands and Feet - Mittens on hands and thick socks on feet. Wool socks, again, are a great choice and also help with some water resistance in snowy conditions. Snow boots add additional warmth and keep little feet nice and dry!
When your child is dressed well for the weather, he or she can comfortably and confidently go outside and enjoy!