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Are you wondering whether it’s the right time to take your toddler away for their first family ski holiday? There’s a lot to consider when planning a ski holiday with little ones.
There are a number of ‘must-haves’ when skiing with a toddler. Appropriate clothing, choosing the right resort, and having heaps of patience will result in an enjoyable ski holiday for all.
It may seem daunting to bring your toddler along skiing with you, but when done well, it can be a special experience as a family and an opportunity to create some fantastic memories. Here are my top 10 tips and tricks to ensure happy family memories are made on the mountain.
1. Get Them Lessons (but not too many)
You may be wondering if your child is even old enough to ski. Many ski schools offer classes or private lessons to children as young as two years old, but it will largely depend on the child.
First of all, if your little one can’t fit into ski boots, it’s unfortunately not their time yet. You know your toddler better than anyone else, so you’ll know when they’re fit and able enough to get on two skis (or a snowboard).
Lessons can really take the pressure off parents and allow someone else to do the teaching so that family time can be more about the fun of skiing. Lessons for the lowest age groups will be focused on play, balance, and concentration, with much less focus on technique. So don’t expect your toddler to come out of lessons ready to take on the whole mountain!
Many toddlers struggle with being away from their parents, especially in a new setting, so as a parent you must be forgiving of this. Staying and watching their first lesson may provide reassurance for your toddler and help avoid negative associations with skiing.
Putting them in a whole week of lessons may also be overwhelming, so it’s recommended to just book them into one or two. Keep expectations low, as even one lesson may be a little much for a toddler, and you can always book additional lessons if they’re loving ripping around on skis.
Picking the right ski school could be instrumental in your toddlers’ enjoyment. If you’re an English speaker, it’s worth finding a ski school that teaches in English. A language barrier can make small children feel alienated or uncomfortable, try putting yourself in their (little) shoes.
Lessons will get the kids used to being in the snow and get them used to the feeling of skis on their feet. At this age, it’s all about building confidence, friendship, and having fun.
2. Take Them To A Child-friendly Resort
Choosing which ski resort to go to can feel more challenging than descending a steep mogul black run, but there are a few things to look out for when picking your next family ski location.
Take a look at the piste maps and terrain. You’ll want to visit a resort with plenty of beginner slopes, preferably ones low down that can be accessed by a single lift from the resort. You don’t want to be traveling too far up the mountain in case of any toddler meltdowns. If you don’t do your research, you could end up with very few options for your toddler.
Some resorts have designated kids’ ski areas with bells, tunnels, and fun figures, which give the feel of a playground. Additionally, many resorts have non-ski-related activities on offer, such as leisure centers, tobogganing, and kid’s play parks.
3. Choose the Right Time of the Year
Tip: Consider visiting during off-peak, quieter periods. The first week of the season or early January tends to have quieter slopes as opposed to school holidays.
Although springtime may not provide you with the silky powder that you’re wanting, you’ve got to consider what conditions are best for your toddler.
Being out and about in sub-zero temperatures and fighting the elements may not be enjoyable for your little one. While we, unfortunately, cannot control the weather, we can pick a time of year that is more likely to provide good weather. Spring provides sunnier and warmer days and often less ice when walking around town.
Shorter queues and more room to move around on the slopes could benefit a young child and be less stressful for all involved.
4. How To Dress a Toddler for Skiing
Columbia Toddler Boys Double Flake Set$89.99
Crafted of a waterproof 100% nylon shell, this set is lightweight while remaining protective. It’s the perfect first line of defense for rainy play dates.
Check Price on Backcountry.com
Quick Checklist:Ski Jacket and salopettes/snowsuit
Ski Goggles (sunglasses can be uncomfortable and not provide proper UV protection)
Ski Thermals (breathable)
Neck warmer (for colder days)
Suncream (not clothing, but it’s a must!)
Clothing. One of the most common concerns for parents. An easy rule of thumb is to dress your child much like you’d dress yourselves; according to the weather. Sticking with the same amount of layers as you feel comfortable in, will be a winner.
Toddlers tend to move around a lot more than adults which generates a lot of heat, so making sure they’re dressed in breathable clothing is a must.
If they’re not comfortable in their outfit, it’ll be a battle to get them dressed every morning, which could affect their enjoyment while skiing. How easy is it to put on and take off? An essential consideration, especially if there’s a toilet emergency!
Important: When choosing an outfit, be sure to have them try it on before your ski trip and ask yourself these questions. Is your toddler comfortable?
Burton Toddlers’ Snowsuit$154.95
Kid-friendly ease of getting in and out adds to why this will be your little one’s favorite piece for snowy days.
Check Price on Backcountry.com
Snowsuit vs salopettes and jackets?
It’s a common question and there’s no right or wrong answer. Take into consideration the questions above; each parent and child will have their preferences. Stick with what works best for you!
Gordini Kids’ Wrap Around Ski Gloves$12.50
Megaloft synthetic insulation, waterproof Dri-Max inserts, and moisture-wicking lining keep hands warm, dry, and comfortable.
Gloves! If you’ve taken a child out skiing before then you’ll know that it’s a triumph to finish the ski holiday with both gloves. To avoid having to constantly repurchase new gloves, buy ones that are attached to the jacket or snowsuit by tethers.
Ensure the gloves aren’t too big for your child, not only will this make them more likely to fall off, but they will struggle to grip anything which can be frustrating for them.
Ski Jacket and salopettes/snowsuit
The North Face Kids Ski Jacket$83.00
For all-day insulated protection, boys can hit the slopes in the updated waterproof Boys’ Freedom Insulated Jacket.
BURTON Kids’ Vent Ski Glove$26.63
DRYRIDE membrane to keep your hands dry and protected.
Check Price on Backcountry.com
Giro Launch Plus Toddler Ski Helmet$99.95
Hard Shell construction produces great helmets at great value. A rugged outer shell is molded and then attached to the EPS foam liner.
(sunglasses can be uncomfortable and not provide proper UV protection)
OutdoorMaster Kids Ski Goggles$24.99
Snow goggles compatible with any ski helmet. Suitable for boys & girls 6 years and older. Available in several different colorful lenses and frame options.
Check Price on OutdoorMaster.com
Helly-Hansen Kids LIFA Merino Wool Ski Baselayer$62.88
100% Merino Wool Exterior. Non-Itch.
Check Price on Backcountry.com
Smartwool Toddler Trio Ski Sock$35.00
They make sure to keep the sensitive little tootsies warm in Smartwool’s Toddler Trio Sock.
BLACKSTRAP Kids Dual Layer Neck Warmer$21.99
Skiers have made the dual layer tube their go to facemask for snowsports as it is soft, warm and super functional.
(not clothing, but it’s a must!)
Aveeno Kids Sunscreen Lotion$8.99 ($3.00 / Fl Oz)
From the pediatrician-recommended brand, this sunscreen lotion features a tear-free formula that is non-greasy, hypoallergenic and paraben-free, phthalate-free and fragrance-free.
5. Use Sweet Incentives
Any toddler parent will know the importance of carrying around snacks wherever you go, and this should be no different on the mountain. In fact, bring more snacks as they need all the energy they can get.
Tip: Remember that they’re on holiday, so bringing fun or special snacks could be a really exciting treat that forms a positive association with skiing.
A mid-day mountain hot chocolate is the classic kiddy incentive. The promise of a warm cup of cocoa with cream and sprinkles must have been used by every parent on the mountain, and boy does it work.
It’ll keep them warm, give them (and you!) the opportunity to rest, and will provide them with plenty of energy to carry on shredding.
Advice: The games ‘Red light, green light‘, or ‘Simon Says‘ are great, simple games that can be played on skis and involve the whole family.
For adults, the enjoyment of skiing might be the fast pace or the feeling of achievement when overcoming a steep piste. But, for little ones, their enjoyment comes from play. You can help foster this enjoyment by introducing games and encouraging them to use their imagination.
Taking your toddler over size-appropriate jumps or pretending to be racing cars will not only get your kids loving skiing but will inevitably improve their balance and coordination on skis.
Playing doesn’t have to just be when the skis are on. Play in the snow with your kids, have snowball fights, go sledding, or even bring some toy cars and make a race track out of snow. All of these activities will get your kid loving snow and being in the mountains.
7. Listen to them
If they’re not enjoying themselves, don’t force it. Stopping while everyone is happy is a common technique for toddler parents as you don’t want skiing to leave a bitter taste in their mouths.
Ensure that you’re giving your toddler the opportunity to let you know how they’re feeling, and listening to them will make the experience more positive for everyone. If they’re cold, go somewhere warm; if they’re tired or hungry, make sure to give them time to rest and keep them fed and hydrated.
Try not to ignore or brush off when they express fear, it’s very real to them. We all know the fear of standing at the top of a challenging run so allow them to have that fear too, even if it is just on a baby slope. Encouragement is great, but when it starts to feel forceful, it may be time to take a break.
8. Take a break
Reminder: They’ve only got little legs, and those little legs get tired!
Toddlers are much too small to do days on end of exercise so take some time out and understand that you may need to take an entire day off of skiing. Fortunately, most resorts offer lots of other activities to suit your toddler and can still provide wonderful memories for the whole family.
Taking a day off to visit the swimming pool, and playground, go sledding, and ride dog sleighs, are all unique mountain experiences for your toddler. Even a cozy afternoon watching a movie with some mountain treats could be just what they need.
9. Find the Right Accommodation
Choosing the right accommodation for you and your family can make a huge difference to your ski trip. Look for accommodation that is located on the piste with ski-in-ski-out access. Long walks to and from your accommodation with your and your toddler’s ski gear whilst they struggle to walk in ski boots will be something you’re wanting to avoid where possible.
Tip: Consider accommodation that offers a creche service and provides high chairs or cots where appropriate.
Many people opt to rent out a ski chalet and share it with friends with children. The children can entertain each other and in-chalet childcare is usually offered in resorts. This can give you the opportunity to go out skiing without the kids or even just relax with a glass of wine.
10. Keep Positive
One way to avoid stress when skiing with kids is to keep expectations low. Be as loose as you can afford to be on timing, rushing is a quick way to increase stress levels and cause arguments.
Don’t be disappointed if your toddler doesn’t immediately love skiing. Instead, try to understand what would make it more enjoyable for them and keep the experience positive.
Advice: Children feed off of your mood, if you’re stressed, it’s likely that your little one will pick up on this and be stressed too. This is easier said than done but remaining aware of this may be beneficial.
Skiing with your kids doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. If you do your research, come prepared and keep the experience positive, you’re sure to make long-lasting family memories!