How to Choose the Perfect Winter Coat or Snowsuit for Baby

Baby in thick winter coat.
This baby's thick winter coat is toasty for playing outside in the snow or riding in a stroller, but may not be ideal for other situations. Getty/Tanuki Photography

Bundling your baby in a winter coat or baby snowsuit is one of the best ways to keep the little one warm when the weather is frightful. There are winter coats and snowsuits for baby in so many styles and weights, it can be hard to choose the right one. The following considerations will help you choose which type of winter coat or snowsuit will be most convenient for you and work best for your baby and your local weather.

Winter Coat or Baby Snowsuit?

Baby snowsuits are one of the warmest options available in winter wear. However, snowsuits can be inconvenient for diaper changes and quick trips, and may be too thick to be safe in baby's car seat. Winter coats are much easier to take on and off of your baby, but for extended outdoor activities won't provide full-body coverage as a baby snowsuit does. Urban families that use a stroller as a commuter vehicle might get a lot of use out of a full-coverage snowsuit. Others use a thinner coat and add a stroller foot muff for extra coverage. Consider how you will use baby's winter wear most often before deciding whether to buy a standard winter coat or baby snowsuit.

    Weight Matters

    Thick winter coats and snowsuits, while very warm, can restrict baby's movement and make your baby uncomfortable. Toddlers may have a hard time moving and walking with a thick coat on. If you'll be outside for long periods of time in very cold climates, your baby may need a very thick, warm coat or snowsuit.

    For most climates, and for quick trips in and out of the cold, a thinner baby coat will do. Consider a coat or snowsuit with a removable liner that adjusts for temperature variations.

      Zips, Snaps and Velcro

      As you shop for a winter coat or snowsuit for baby, test the closures on the coats you're considering to be sure you can get the coat on and off of your baby easily.

      Remember that you may also be wearing winter gloves that make small zipper pulls hard to grasp. For toddlers, look for a coat or snowsuit with a closure that's easy for little fingers to master. Give zipper pulls and drawstrings a tug to be sure they are firmly attached.

        Winter Coat Sizes

        For infants, it's unlikely that you'll be able to buy a coat that lasts more than one winter since babies grow so much in the first year. You can buy infant coats a bit big to allow for growth over the season, though. For toddlers, buying a coat that is one size bigger may allow you to use the coat for two winters, but be sure the coat isn't so big that it restricts movement. When trying on winter coats, remember that baby may have thick clothes underneath the coat and choose sizes accordingly.

          Winter Coats and Car Seats

          If you plan to keep baby's coat on while traveling, you must choose a thin winter coat that will not interfere with proper car seat harness adjustment. Thick winter coats should not be used with car seats.

          Fleece coats and snowsuits are a good option for use with car seats, providing warmth without bulk. If you choose a thick coat, take it off in the car and warm baby with blankets placed over the car seat after buckling, or buckle baby in and then put the coat on backwards over baby's arms.

          You could also try a coat that's specially made to unzip at the sides so it doesn't interfere with the car seat harness. It's called the Cozywoggle (Buy on Amazon.com). If your baby is riding in an infant car seat, a winter car seat cover that goes atop the seat might also be a good option instead of a traditional coat or snowsuit.

            Don't Overheat Baby

            Infants usually need one additional layer of clothing over what adults need to stay warm. Rather than buying a huge snowsuit or baby parka, consider adding thin clothing layers underneath, topped off with a light winter coat or fleece snowsuit, to provide enough warmth without making baby sweat. Toddlers don't need to be overdressed, either. If you are comfortable with a sweater and light coat, it's likely that your toddler will be comfortable in similar cold weather gear.