We caught up with our friends from AliKats Mountain Holidays, specialists in family-friendly chalet holidays to talk about skiing with babies and toddlers. Read their top tips for getting youngsters from 6 months to 4 years of age on the slopes .
If you’re a parent that loves to ski, it’s likely that once children arrive you will be keen to get out to the mountains as soon as possible to share your passion with your family’s newest addition. Read on for our top tips on skiing with babies and toddlers.
Skiing with babies and toddlers is so fun, but the question is, how soon is too soon when it comes to introducing your little one to the white slippery stuff? To get the answer we caught up with Al Judge, dad of three snow-mad kids living in the French Alps and owner of family friendly chalet company AliKats Mountain Holidays. ‘Many parents assume that you must wait until your kids are ski school age to book your first family ski holiday, but this is a real shame. Whilst it is probably best to wait until your child can actually walk before you purchase their first pair of ski boots, as soon as babies can sit up there is plenty of fun to be had as they learn about the snow and find their balance’, explains Al.
1) 6-12 months
From this age, if you’re lucky enough to get some snow in the garden, the fun can start at home. When your baby can sit up you can strap them into a baby sledge, which should have a safety harness and back support. This is also a great way to get your baby around a ski resort. Stick to flat trails, stay away from traffic and give lots of verbal encouragement. Unlike you, who is probably huffing and puffing as you pull your child through the snow, your baby is sitting still and reaching out a curious hand to touch the soft snow, so remember to dress them in a warm snow suit and waterproof gloves. Make sure you have a camera ready – you’re little one will soon be wearing a great big smile!
2) 1-2 years
Once your child is walking, you can introduce them to the sensation of sliding on a toddler’s snowboard. Snowboards are preferable to skis at this stage so their feet can’t move independently. This might seem like a daunting prospect, but the idea is not to set them free on a ski slope. Find a gentle slope where you can get a little momentum and have about 10 metres to run along side them, keeping them upright. This exercise will help them learn how to naturally absorb bumps with their knees. Make sure the snow is soft and not icy. Spring snow tends to be more forgiving and is great for first time riders! Burton make snowboards as small as 80cm and boots as small as size 6 UK children’s size. Not every ski shop will rent them out, but if you do a bit of online research before you go, you should be able to find a shop that does.
3) 2-3 years
This is a good age to introduce your energetic toddler to a pair of skis. An Edgie Wedgie is a great piece of kit that prevents skis crossing and legs getting tangled. The bungee clamps onto the tips of the skis to keep them close together and makes forming a snowplough much easier. If you can, choose a resort that has a designated kids ski area with gentle slopes and magic carpets to get your little one up to the top easily. Get started on a quiet nursery or beginner slope with no bumps, a long flat stretch at the bottom can also be a helpful natural brake. There are then 3 options for accompanying them down the hill:
Option 1 - run along side them. You need to be quite a fast runner to do this but if you are not a strong skier yourself, this might be the best option.
Option 2 - use reins and a harness. This can be a good option if you are an intermediate skier- it's easy to control their speed and easy for you to ski behind them too. The downside is that you can make them reliant on you for stopping which can slow their learning down
Option 3 - If you are a good skiier, try skiing next to them and getting them to hold onto your horizontal ski pole to help them slow down.
4) 3-4 years
As all parents know, all kids are different. By aged 3 your child may or may not be ready for some kind of ski tuition. How do you know? Judge it by how well your little one learns something new and takes instructions from elders and teachers. A private lesson or small group of 2 or 3 kids is the best way to go at this age. If you feel that lessons would be too intense, keep the time on skis to short sessions with mum and dad, and find a ski crèche or kids ski club that is more focused on fun activities in the snow and workshops, rather than actually skiing. Remember the main thing is that your child has an amazing time, so speak positively about all things snow and give lots of encouragement! If stuck on which resort to choose for your family skiing holiday check out Morzine, which has fantastic ski clubs for toddlers and incredible family ski areas, especially designed to maximise fun and safety with fun obstacles, magic carpets and easy to use drag lifts for youngsters.
For a family friendly catered chalet holiday, AliKats Mountain Holidays offers cosy chalets with plenty of baby facilities, delicious food and a private chauffeur service to the slopes.