As a parent you'd want your kids to be safe and hence when they're small, you're responsible for picking weather-appropriate clothing for them.

As they grow, you'd like them to understand the importance and make those decisions themselves. I'm trying to understand what's the right age to start teaching them about it. I thought it might be around 4-6 but I've recently heard from some parents, that they started doing it from 2-3.

Any suggestions from personal experience here?

  • 4
    For a kid, "a coat is something you wear when your mother is cold." :-) I (vaguely) remember not caring as a kid, unless there was actually snow on the ground.
    – AaronD
    Sep 23, 2023 at 5:32
  • Why not at whatever age the kids can understand the language, and particularly the difference between 'when you feel cold' and 'when it's cold outside'? Sep 23, 2023 at 22:41

5 Answers 5


It largely depends on the kid, but in general our approach was simple: even at two, suggest but not require unless it was dangerous (read: below freezing for the most part). The more chances they get to be cold in a safe way (or overheated in a safe way) the better they get at making that particular choice. A gentle reminder (“last time you felt like you were cold in shorts, do you want to try pants?”) usually suffices once they’ve had some experiences. We also encouraged them to pop outside while getting dressed - to ‘test the weather’ - and sometimes they’d realize their mistake and change.

Exceptions would include things where it’s a major downer on the whole family if they choose wrong - like wearing too light of clothing when going on a long hike - but then I’d usually encourage them to bring the extra layers in a bag so they could put them on when they realized they were cold.

  • 16
    Very similar with my 3 kids - give them autonomy unless it's a hazard, and have backups :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 21, 2023 at 9:23
  • 3
    Similar here - in essence there's no cut-off once they can communicate. There's a learning process over years. And don't forget "I'm taking a waterproof, should we put yours in my backpack as well" - it avoids them not taking it because they don't want to be encumbered when they're supposed to be having fun
    – Chris H
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:59
  • 3
    This answer reminds me of a patient I had as a kid with a very serious case of sensory processing disorder. Food and clothing were always major issues for the kid, and the parents wisely made gentle suggestions, as you advised here, until they just gave up and accepted that the kid himself knew what felt least upsetting. For example, he always wore shorts and sandals, even in winter. He was (and continues to be) a healthy, fairly successful person who got married in shorts and sandals. Sep 22, 2023 at 13:21
  • 1
    @Michael - Even if they do encounter pathogens (e.g. viruses commonly causing the "common cold") while cold, it's not always a problem. The studies are mixed.) Sep 22, 2023 at 13:23
  • 1
    Well outside the scope of the comments, but from my understanding the bigger problem with winter is lack of humidity (dry air) - which sweaters don't do much about. But as anongoodnurse said, studies are unclear.
    – Joe
    Sep 22, 2023 at 15:00

It can begin as young as you start putting clothes on them. When it's cold outside or when you are wearing warm clothes, put warm clothing on them while talking to them - that's always good for new humans who are still learning language - say (yes, to your 1-month-old), "It's cold outside, so I'm going to put warm clothes on you today."

Yes, I know, saying it once when they are an infant won't do anything, but if you say something like that every time you dress them (it really doesn't matter how young or old you start) they will eventually catch on, and will be aware of things like the weather from a very young age.

I, personally (and my siblings) have never been very affected by the weather/temperature, so I don't really think it's a big issue: if you make it an issue by teaching your child about it, that's fine: they will learn about it and that's cool; if you don't make it a issue and just let them wear whatever they want whenever they want, then they probably just won't care much about what the weather is like, and it won't ever matter to them.


I believe the correct time to teach children about weather appropriate clothing is when the child starts Kindergarten. I believe this is the right time as it helps to build confidence and autonomy as this is the time that children leave their parent from 24 hour contact with the parent.


I've done this for my adult child and am currently doing it for my other 3. But around ages 3 or 4 is a good time to start teaching kids about clothes for different weather. At this age, they can start choosing some of their own outfits.

First, show them we wear shorts and t-shirts when it's hot outside, like at the beach with Moana. But when it's cold out, we wear pants and sweaters. You can make it a fun game - "Is it a shorts day or a pants day today?" Let them look outside to help decide.

When they're 4 or 5, they'll understand a little more. Explain that we bundle up in winter to stay warm and healthy. Talk about materials like wool that trap heat. Show them light jackets for fall and extra layers for very cold days.

The key is making it interactive and letting them pick out clothes. Praise them when they choose correctly. If they're wrong, gently explain and guide them.

Keep adding more lessons each year. By 6 or 7 they should understand what to wear for the weather. But always double check before they go out - safety first! Be patient and make it an informative experience.

The earlier you start, the more they'll learn. But take it step-by-step. With your guidance, they'll be able to dress appropriately for the weather themselves in no time! Let me know if you need anything explained more simply.


From a psychology 101 course: At some point a child learns that a coat makes you warm when you wear it outside. The connection that you should put on a coat while you are indoors and warm, to stay warm outside, that comes a bit later. I was told that around three years old this develops.

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