CHILDREN’S CLOTHES – How to dress your preschool child during the cold months

Sunshine, rain, storm, and then sunshine again. The Danish autumn and winter weather can be tricky – even for Danes. Since spending time outside is an integral part of daily life in preschool, correct clothing for young children is essential. Using woollen underwear and dressing in layers is a very good way to start.

By Caroline Boutrup Nielsen

”There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. This quote by Alfred Wainwright, an old British fell walker, has more or less become a Danish national saying. Bad weather does not keep Danes from going outside.

Especially children in kindergarten, who spend time outside almost every day – all year round. This puts high demands on their clothing.

Woollen underwear comes first
Wool is warm, wool is natural and wool allows the skin to “breathe”. Back in time, woollen clothes were often thought of as being thick, itchy and uncomfortable – and only suited for wearing on top of your normal clothes as sweaters and jackets. Today, however, the quality has gotten so refined that woollen underwear is as soft and cosy as cotton – only warmer.

During the cold months, it is therefore a good idea to make sure that your child’s undershirt is either 100 percent wool or a mix of wool and cotton.

Larger children’s shops such as Babysam and Ønskebørn usually have a big selection of different brands. But also supermarkets like Føtex, Bilka and Kvickly have good quality woollen children’s underwear and other woollen clothing – often at a very fair price.

Modern woollen underwear is as soft and cosy as cotton. Here from Danish brand Joha.

Modern woollen underwear is as soft and cosy as cotton. Here from Danish brand Joha.

Layers give flexibility
Since the weather can be very unstable and temperatures drop and rise quite quickly, it is very smart to dress in layers so you can easily take off a layer or add one depending on the mood of the weather and the child’s activity level.

Children often switch between running around when they play and sitting still listening to stories or doing other quiet activities. This change between the body producing heat and cooling down is, again, another good reason for dressing in layers.

Start with the woollen undershirt and tights, or long underwear. Then long-sleeved shirt and trousers, use socks if the tights are without feet. On top of that, a woollen sweater, and woollen socks or slippers.

It is always a good idea to wear slippers indoors, since floors often get quite cold during the winter months. Children often sit and play on the floor, which also makes double layers on the legs preferable.

Equipped to jump in puddles
Exploring the outside, getting familiar with nature and experiencing the change of seasons is highly treasured in day-care in Denmark. Since it rains 171 days a year here, it is mandatory in most kindergartens and nurseries to equip your child with a rain coat and matching trousers, as well as a set of rubber boots, all of which should stay at the institution.

Equipped to sit on the cold ground. Picture:Private

Equipped to sit on the cold ground. Picture:Private

Rain clothes for small children have to be not only water resistant, but must keep water out efficiently, a distinction to be aware of when buying rain clothes. When jumping in puddles, water-resistance is not enough.

Moreover, it is a good idea to have rain dungarees, so there is no potential gap at the tummy.

Thermal and snowsuits keep out the cold
Until the age of two, children often take their midday nap in cradles outside. The official guideline says that this is perfectly okay unless the temperature drops below -10 degrees Celsius/14 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make sure these children keep warm, it is advised that they sleep in a set of thermal clothes, woollen socks and a balaclava helmet or elefanthue, as it is called in Danish.

Now that the wool and layers are in place, a good water- and wind-resistant snowsuit is all that’s missing before your child is ready for the Danish winter. They come in many varieties and qualities. In the last consumer test made on snowsuits, flyverdragt in Danish, a fairly low-cost suit from COOP, by the brand named Friends, won.

It won because it was very water-resistant, hard to wear out and was breathable, allowing the child’s body to get rid of excess heat. The brand Friends can be bought in Kvickly or on COOP’s webpage.

Snowsuits can be tricky in Denmark, as they have to be good for both light rain and snow, light rain combined with cold weather being more common in wintertime than snow.

Boots, mittens and balaclava complete the picture
Good boots are warm, water-resistant and yet they should allow the feet to breathe. When buying boots also consider that Velcro makes it easier for the child to take the boots on and off without help from an adult. Even though it can get very cold, small cotton mittens are often preferable, because they allow children to play and use their hands more freely than big, multi-layered mittens.

The big, warm and stiff ones often end up being taken off, and so the thin ones – that stay on – are a better option. As for keeping the head warm, a balaclava is the best choice. It keeps the whole head, including ears, neck and chest, warm, whereas a hat easily allows wind to enter here and there.

Where to buy? 
Bilka, Føtex, Kvickley, and H&M have good value for money quality outerwear and rainwear. More up market pricy Scandinavian brands are Joha(socks and underwear/nightwear), Ticket to Heaven, Reima and Ver de Terre. These are mainly sold through children’s wear shops. Also Babysam and Ønskebørn have a large selection for young children.