I’m expecting my second child and first winter baby in January, and thinking about all the gear I’ll need for #2. My first was still an infant in the winter, so I have the gift of hindsight—I know what I wish I’d had the first time around.

Here are my top picks for essential winter gear for baby—and a few items for mamas, too.

See Shannon’s Winter Baby Registry.

Outdoor Gear

1. All-Terrain, Three-Wheel Stroller

As a newbie first-time mom, I got a cool-looking, expensive stroller that was fabulous…on clean pavement in warm weather. But when the snow arrived, it was useless. The double wheels were clogged up with road salt and the only to tackle unshovelled patches of sidewalk was to turn the stroller around and pull it like a sled. Not so cool.

I polled many moms, and the consensus was to go for all-terrain stroller, three-wheeler with large wheels and air-filled tires. There are lots of options out there—and some strollers like Bugaboo sell all-terrain tires separately—but I needed something budget-friendly (this is my third stroller!), with a second seat for my 3-year-old, and maneuverable into small Toronto shops and onto the bus.

Ultimately, we found a used, older-model Phil & Ted’s Sport. So far, it’s a dream to push and it’s narrow, and has a removable infant cocoon. Practical is the new cool!

2. Baby Carrier

You can get away with fewer layers in winter if you keep baby close to your body in a carrier. I used a Moby wrap–type carrier and a Boba Air structured carrier.

3. Zip-In Coat Panel / Jacket Extender

I coveted this with baby #1, but never got one. Not only is this great for babywearing, it’s awesome for moms who are pregnant in winter—no need to buy a separate maternity coat or—as a friend did—wrap your belly in a scarf each day! Just order a zip-in panel that fits your own coat.

You can wear your newborn close to you (body heat!) and avoid bundling baby in a snowsuit—and no gaps, so you stay warm, too.

I opted for the BellyFit jacket extender with the extra warmth layer. (The awesome people at Make My Belly Fit sent me a complimentary BellyFit even though after much research and based on my winter coat type, it was already what I had been planning to buy. I’m loving it!)

4. Carrier Cover

Even if you’ve got the jacket extender, a carrier comes in handy, too, for warmer winter days when a heavy coat is too much or for your partner to use to carry the baby—since the jacket panel is customized to your jacket. We had the Jolly Jumper Snuggle Cover, which is not too pricey, easy to find used, and has pockets—an underappreciated bonus!

5. Stroller/Carseat Muff

We had the JJ Cole BundleMe for our first child, and it was invaluable. Whatever brand you choose, it should have a water-resistant coating on the outside to keep baby dry in snowfalls. The BundleMe can be used in a carseat or stroller.

6. Stroller Weather Cover

Whether it’s a rain cover or an “all-weather” cover, these are crucial for brisk winter wind and snow. Try to find one that is PVC-free and breathable.

7. Thin Fleece or Wool Baby Bunting

This is a coverall clothing item that can be safely worn in the stroller or carseat. Heavy, puffy buntings are not approved for carseat or stroller safety as they don’t allow straps to secure properly, and the baby could overheat when the car warms up. Buntings should have separated legs.

The Car Seat Lady has great tips on keeping babes warm in carseats. If your bunting doesn’t have fold-over hand covers, you’ll need clip-on mitts too.

8. Warm, Breathable Blanket

A soft, cozy blankie comes in handy for so many purposes. Throw it on baby in the car before it warms up. As an extra layer in the stroller. To transport baby from house to car in the car seat. You can’t go wrong.

Wool is appealing, but it’s expensive. I love this Tencel/organic cotton blanket from Sweet Iris: Tencel is an eco-friendly fabric that is as soft as wool.

9. Hat With Chin Strap and Neck Gaiter or Balaclava

If you get a hat without a chin strap, you’ll regret it. We don’t do scarves for babies or kids in our house: we do neck gaiters or balaclavas. Both are easy to put on, they stay on, and they are not strangulation hazards.

10. Booties

Socks have a hard time staying on pudgy baby feet. Heavy socks are great, but babies somehow can wiggle out of them. Booties are better.

11. Face Cream

Baby’s sensitive cheeks need protection from the elements. For us, diaper cream worked great. I like formulas made for cloth diapers because they don’t leave a residue on clothing. Another product I use is Live Clean Non-Petroleum Jelly.

Indoor Gear

12. Sleep Sack

For nighttime, a sleep sack is a must-have. The weight you need depends on your heating system, how drafty your house is, etc. But no matter the weight, the fabric needs to be breathable. I found polyester versions too suffocating for winter and I am not a fan of flame-retardant chemicals.

Grobag was by far my fave sleepsack for winter and I managed to find a couple on clearance in last-season’s styles at Marshal’s. But I also really liked Halo 100% cotton sleep sacks, which are much cheaper.

13. Tights

Socks never stay on baby. Tights or pants with feet are much more practical. Babysoy Footie Pants were my favourite things ever.

14. Moisturizer

My daughter and I both have keratosis pilaris and mild psoriasis, so moisturizer is key.  I’m paranoid about chemicals, so we used avocado oil and coconut oil on #1. Both worked great, were cheaper than most baby moisturizers, and we had no problems with my babe’s sensitive skin.

For psoriasis, I’m having good results on both of us with Skin Essence E-Cream, which is chemical-free, made from plant extracts, and not super pricey. (It’s supposedly even better for eczema.) A colloidal oatmeal bath does wonders for dry skin, too.

A Few Things for Mom

15. Jacket Extender

The aforementioned zip-in panel is perfect for keeping your pregnant belly warm!

16. Practical Boots

Invest in a good pair of sub-zero boots with treads. You’re no good to baby if you’re not stable on your feet in winter. Bonus if they are pull-on. Who has time for laces?

17. Moisturizer

I use the same natural, chemical-free moisturizers on myself as on my child. Gentle treatment for my skin is important, too!

18. Social Life

The most important thing to do for yourself, and your baby, may be to keep active and get out of the house and socialize with other parents. Join a mom group, sign up for mommy-and-me classes, find a group on MeetUp.com, or organize a group on Facebook. Just don’t isolate yourself—especially in winter!

You could even put some mom-and-baby programs on your baby registry, so you’re more motivated to go!

Read our “get out of the house” guide for new Toronto parents.

Have more suggestions? Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter #helpwevegotkids and share your favourite winter gear.

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