How to Dress Kids for Canadian Fall Weather

September 19, 2016

Falls is here! Time to get rid of the t-shirts and shorts (or at least, time to start thinking about doing so), and switch over to pants, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets.

Because Canadian fall weather can be unpredictable, you may struggle with how to properly dress kids for daycare or school, or just a day out.

Below are some tips for parents and caregivers to keep in mind when dressing kids for fall weather.

8 Tips for Dressing Children for the Canadian Fall Weather

1. Watch the Weather Forecast

Fall can be a tricky time when it comes to dressing kids: some days it is still very warm (in fact, it still feels like summer!), whereas others can be quite cold. In one week you may see a day where kids won’t need a jacket at all, and one where they’ll need mitts. It’s important to pay attention to the local forecast in the morning to make sure that children are dressed appropriately, especially since they will have time outside at school. This will also allow you the chance to pack anything extra they may need for the day, such as a raincoat or umbrella if rain is expected in the afternoon.

2. Hide the New Clothes, or Wait to Buy Them

You probably spent at least part of your summer shopping for back to school clothes for the kids, and they are undoubtedly excited to wear them! But with school starting the first week of September (or even the last weeks in August in some places), it is still far too warm (in most places) for some of the winter clothes you may have purchased. This can definitely create a battle with your kids, who want to show off their new threads to their friends. One way to avoid this is to pack those clothes away: out of sight, out of mind.

Another way is to consider holding off on back to school shopping until the weather gets cooler. Bonus: You might be able to find some sales!

3. Function over Fashion

Many parents want their children to look cute and fashionable and that’s ok but be sure not to do this at the cost of comfort, warmth, and functionality. Stylish shoes and fancy dresses aren’t always practical when it come to playtime. Be sure to dress for fun, not just for style.

4. Dress in Layers

Fall and spring are great times of year to dress children in layers. Especially if they are going to be out of the house for the day (whether at school or daycare). This way, they can lose layers if the weather warms up but can also keep them if it stays cool. This also keeps them covered at a time of year when the indoor temperature can be unpredictable (for example, some schools turn off the air conditioning early, and there are still days where it’s quite warm, meaning short sleeves inside are a must).

5. Add a Layer to What You Are Wearing

All right, you’ve got your kid dressed in layers. Before they go anywhere, add one. Keep in mind the rule of thumb recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society: add a layer to whatever mom and dad are wearing to ensure your little one is comfortable. So, for example, if you’re wearing a t-shirt and a light jacket, you will want to add a long-sleeved shirt or sweater to your child’s outfit. Remember: especially if they are older, your kids can always lose a layer if they are too warm, but better to be warm than too cold, and potentially get sick.

However, with all these layers, and once you are adding in hats, scarves, etc., it is important to make sure that, particularly with young children, you are keeping an eye on them to ensure that their mouths and noses are not covered thereby restricting their ability to breathe.

6. Consider Safety

If your child is still in a car seat, then you need to consider that when dressing them to leave the house, as most jackets cannot be worn while in the car seat for safety’s sake. Large, bulky jackets are a hazard because your child could essentially slip out of the car seat in the event of an accident since the straps of the car seat will be loosened to accommodate the coat. On particularly cold days, consider either covering the child (who is buckled into the car seat) with a blanket or cover or having them put on their coat backwards (over the car seat buckle).

7. Don’t Forget Protection

Now that summer is over, and the sun isn’t quite as hot, it can be easy to forget that the sun’s rays can still be damaging to children’s skin. Regardless of the temperature outside, if children are going to be playing outdoors, ensure that you put hats and sunscreen on them to protect their skin.

8. Know the Signs of Frostbite

It’s funny that just after talking about sunscreen we’re now talking about frostbite, (you’ve got to love Canadian fall weather!) but depending on where you live, fall temperatures can get quite chilly. Depending on your child’s age, they may be able to tell you if they are too cold, but if not, check hands and feet to see if they are cold. In terms of frostbite, some signs to look out for are the skin getting red or swollen. Keep in mind that extremities and the face/ears are areas at risk.


While the fall in Canada can be unpredictable, and the weather difficult to dress for, just like anything else with parenting and caregiving, it simply takes some preparation and foresight to make sure kids are dressed appropriately this fall.

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