Let’s face it. As the temperature drops, so can our motivation to bundle up the family and get outside. The same can be said for other “less than ideal” weather conditions. However, getting outside is wonderful for the soul as a stress-reliever and a memory-maker. Use these tips to enjoy the outdoors with your family even in unfavorable weather conditions. 

Boy catching raindrops on his tongue

Dress Appropriately

“I’m cold, I want to go home!”. These words are enough to shatter plans and kill the joy that comes from exploring nature. That’s why our number one tip for enjoying the outdoors with kiddos is always to dress appropriately. This can be a daunting task, especially if you have a young baby or are just starting to warm up to the idea of “all-weather” exploration (pun intended). However, a few key clothing items can make all the difference! 

Two phrases to remember are “cotton is rotten” and “layers, layers, layers!”. Cotton is a non-wicking material that will keep the moisture next to your skin, chilling you quickly in cold temperatures. Better materials include wool and synthetics, which wick moisture away from the skin and insulate the body, keeping you warm and dry. This is true for hats, gloves, and socks as well. Layering these materials is a great way to keep everyone comfortable in chilly temperatures. For example, a wool base layer followed by a fleece mid-layer (such as these options for kids, women, and men from L.L. Bean) and a weather-resistant or waterproof outer layer can do the trick in most conditions.  We highly recommend a fleece bunting mid-layer to keep babies nice and cozy in cold temperatures. For more information, check out this article on keeping your family warm on the trail in winter.

Start Slow, Short, and Close to Home

While epic adventures in the snow can make for incredible memories, we recommend starting with short adventures close to home. Start with a walk around your neighborhood, and ease into rainy-day hiking at a nearby trail or testing out snowshoes at a local state park. This gives everyone time to acclimate to spending time outdoors in cold or rainy conditions. It also gives the caregiver time to ensure their family has the right gear to keep them comfortable. For example, I learned the hard way that my younger son needs both a warm mitten liner and an outer mitten waterproof “shell” to satisfy his need to play in slushy puddles while also keeping his little hands warm and dry.

Try a New Outdoor Activity 

Growing up I remember dreading going outside in the snow for a walk, but the minute my dad said the word “sled”, I was up and dressing in my warm gear within seconds. There is just something magical about an activity that can only be done in less than “ideal” conditions!  Whether it’s sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or even ice skating on a frozen pond, adding in the extra equipment can be just what you need to motivate your family to get outside. Many places will rent equipment, such as snowshoes and ice skates, for you to test out.  Looking to buy? Check out these equipment options from L.L. Bean.

Family walking on a snowy trail with one child being pulled in a sled

Bring Along a Favorite Warm Beverage or Snack

There’s nothing better on a cold outing than a nice warm drink or snack to stave off the chilly temperatures! Before heading out, grab a thermos of hot chocolate, cider, or tea for the family (or coffee for the adults) to enjoy on a hike or sledding break. A favorite soup, stew, or even oatmeal works well as a nice warm snack that can be easily carried in a thermos. Another great option is to plan an outing within close proximity to a favorite cafe or coffee shop so that you can run in and grab a warm treat before continuing on your way.

Peak Their Interest with a “Themed” Outing

If you have ever tried to motivate your kiddos (or partner for that matter) to get outside in unfavorable weather conditions, you may be familiar with the “are you crazy?!” glares and the epic groans that follow. However, adding a theme or activity to your outing can pique their interest enough to get them moving out the door. It can be anything from a hunt for the deepest puddle to a scavenger hunt challenge or stargazing adventure. Check out our free Winter Workbook to get you started with your family. For more fun ideas, check out these 5 winter hiking games to keep your kiddos motivated outside or this fun Winter Scavenger Hunt/Sensory Walk printable.

Looking for more tips to help you get outdoors with your family this winter? Check out these tips and hacks from our wonderful Hike it Baby Community for hiking and getting outdoors with your family this winter.

About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America.
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, Hike it Baby is a growing community of 270,000 families and over 400 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information, as well as outdoor engagement events, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Jessica Human and Tais Kulish.

Editors Note:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Hike it Baby. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you.
But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.


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