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As a native Floridian, I had no idea what to pack for a trip to a cold climate until I visited New York a few times. Thankfully, I had an amazing friend who lived in NYC and let me borrow her gear when I was here during the colder months, as I didn’t have much in my closet. That said, I can totally relate to a mom who doesn’t really know how to pack for an upcoming trip to a new climate with a baby in tow.
I’m far from an expert, but I do feel competent enough to take Skyler (now 20 months old) out in the cold and snow without thinking that he’ll freeze. And, let me tell you, I didn’t start out that way. Last winter was our first one carrying a baby around, and I was always nervous about how cold or hot he was.
I’ve learned some things I think others might find useful, with the most important thing being to pack layers with you. Depending on your activities (inside versus outside, driving in a car versus strolling around the city), what you need throughout the day might change. It’s annoying, but necessary, and every baby and toddler is different. (More on that below.)
I’m sure there are plenty of other things that could be added to this post, but I wanted to condense my thoughts into as short of a list as possible — specifically focused towards winter travel for those who wouldn’t necessarily have these items on hand. Of course the usual baby packing list applies, too.
- stroller with rain/wind cover
We have a travel stroller that we take on all of our trips. It’s so lightweight that I actually use it more than our bigger everyday stroller now, as navigating the subways solo without elevators proves to be a challenge with those. Luckily, this won’t be the case for most of you.
You want to have a good stroller with you, whether it’s the stroller that you use every day or a travel stroller. Most airlines will let you check baby items free of charge during check-in such as a stroller/stroller bag, car seat, etc. We have a rain cover for both versions, as it’s a must when it’s raining out and also serves as a layer of protection against the wind on those colder, windier days.
- winter coat
This one is obvious, but I wanted to give some insight based on my experience here. This is our second winter with a tot and since we live in a climate where it gets cold (and almost unbearable a handful of days), we have a small collection of coats for Skyler. We have a few hooded sweatshirts (one regular, one lined with fleece — I prefer zip-ups for comfort), a lightweight wind breaker/puffer jacket without a hood, and a thicker cold weather coat with a hood. What we put him in always depends on the temperature and what else we are layering him with.
- hat and gloves
You want to make sure your little one’s ears, hands, and feet are warm! I still have trouble getting my 20-month-old to keep his gloves on, but we’re working on it. He has a few beanies and a fleece-lined hat that goes over his ears for the colder days. I always find the cutest selection at Gap, and you can get some killer deals with the regular sales that they have going on!
- nasal spray & balm
I’ll admit that I used a nose aspirator a lot when Skyler was a baby. Now that he’s in a toddler stage, I turn to nasal saline spray to help get everything moving. Plus, it’s easier to travel with and a little more socially acceptable to use in public. We’ve used a spray when flying with him, too. Poor little kiddos don’t really know how to blow their noses, so this is a must-have along with gentle wipes and a body balm (for moisturizing and helping with chapped skin) in my opinion.
- layering pieces
I’ve figured out that our baby seems to get hotter than most. There are a lot of articles and forums that recommend you layer starting with a short or long-sleeve onesie before putting their outfit on in the winter, and I’m sure that’s great advice for the masses. Skyler, however, sweats at the drop of a hat. I tend to skip the under-layer (unless it’s snowy weather) and go for either a long-sleeve top/onesie or tank layered with a sweater (check out my fave stores here and here), pants, socks, shoes, gloves, a hat, and a coat or snow suit — see below.
It also depends on where we are going and what we will be doing. Commuting around New York City without a car will have me layering more, of course. Generally, it’s a good idea to pack mix-and-match items that are easy to layer with. A pack of plain white or neutral onesies always goes a long way!
Look at what you are wearing and make sure your baby is layered similarly, if not more. It also doesn’t hurt to bring options with you, as the weather can change throughout the day.
- snow suit or bunting
This one is huge if you are visiting a climate where it snows or gets into the lower double digits. I found a great one from Old Navy last winter and more on sale from Gap at a very reasonable price this season. The sizes vary quite a bit (0-6 months, 6-12 months, 18-24 months, etc.), and that’s okay. Remember that your baby will be wearing this for a season and needs a little wiggle room for layers under it to be comfortable. Skyler’s snowsuit this year is 18-24 months, and he will be two by the end of this winter.
- travel blanket(s)
You’ll want to carry a warm blanket to layer your baby with in the car seat and stroller. If they aren’t walking like you, they’ll be a little colder. We were gifted a monogramed baby blanket when Skyler was little and we all adore it. I carry a thicker one when I don’t have a stroller bag — see below.
- stroller bag
These are hilarious but necessary during the cold winter months, especially if you going to be outside for any length of time. A lot of NYC locals invest in higher quality brands like 7 A.M. (we have the Cybex stroller muff that we registered for), and you can find a variety of them online and at retailers like Buy Buy Baby. Insider tip: they also have stroller gloves for you!
Check out my Ten Tips For Traveling With a Toddler post (inside scoop towards babies, too!) for more details on what goes into my strategies for packing for trips and traveling with a baby in general.
As always, feel free to reach out in the comments section or via email at email@example.com with any additional questions.
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