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I’d like to think of myself as an expert on skiing with infants and toddlers. With 3 kids (5, 3, and 7 months) and a severe ski obsession, it kind of just goes with the territory. Somehow, Andrew and I have been completely incapable of staying away from the wintry slopes despite the little ones tugging at our legs.
Also, we’ve not been fortunate enough to get to drop our kids off at daycare every powder day (ahem, we’re cheap), we’ve developed a pretty good system. Okay, we don’t actually ski with an infant, but, working out the logistics of taking care of one is a necessity. This time around with baby Jimmy thrown into the mix, we feel like old pros at bringing the kids along. Here’s how to make it happen:
1. Find a Lodge.
Obviously, there are some resorts that are better than others for skiing at with infants and toddlers. Even if you have a very eager toddler, chances are that you’ll still be spending at least a couple hours in the lodge eating french fries and downing hot chocolate. That’s okay. In fact, we encourage it (our magic ratio is 2 parts hot chocolate with 1 part skiing for the first season). Make sure that you’re going to a resort that is okay with you just hanging out, especially if you’re taking a ski trip with a baby. Although you’ll probably be visiting the cafeteria several times, it’s nice to know it’s there as a convenience instead of a mandatory 30-minute validation. In our experience, you’ll typically find that at the smaller or more “old school” resorts.
2. Build up a tag team.
The best way to do this is to bring some friends (and grandma and grandpa are even better). Take turns in the lodge watching the kiddos while everyone else is out skiing with kids. This gives tiny non-skiers some attention while also providing a place for kids with tired legs to hang out and rest. Don’t worry if you don’t find friends though, skiing with toddlers can also work just fine with Mom and Dad (which we do regularly).
3. Scout out the lift location.
It’s a no brainer that you want the kid-friendly terrain to be easily accessible from your “base-camp”. No one wants to haul all their ski gear, a pair of tiny skis and a tired 3-year-old up the hill just to jump on the magic carpet when skiing with toddlers. Equally important is access to awesome adult terrain. If you’re tag teaming your toddler skiing, it can be a serious waste of your precious time away if you need to take 2 or 3 lifts to get to the terrain you want to ski. If you’re lucky you may even score a resort with the bunny slope and the steeps right out of the parking lot like here.
4. Bring more than you think.
Usually, we’re pretty minimalistic, but when it comes to a day of skiing with baby, we pack our car to the roof. Taking a baby skiing seems to complicate everything and we take a lot more gear. If you are looking for how to dress your baby for winter check out this article and this one. Getting 2 adults and 3 kids outfitted for the day requires TONS of gear and clothes, and also a lot in the “just in case” category. I always bring TONS of food (for the hungry calorie burning skiers), a change of warm clothes for potty trained kids and 2 changes of clothes for diapered kids (since leaks always happen at the worst times). I also bring blankets for little ones to play on the floor, toys, books, crayons, play-dough, the works. Just remember that there’s a good chance that you will be in the lodge A LOT when you are skiing with a baby, so make sure that your kids will have plenty to stay entertained. Of course the best piece of equipment for skiing with a toddler is an edgie wedgie.
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5. Start the kids skiing YOUNG!
Both Mason and Chloe started skiing at 18 months and Jimmy will follow suit next fall. Why? Although being in the lodge is fine, we are up there because we love to ski and any skiing is better than no skiing. Although kids this small won’t learn much, it’s still fun to get out there with them on their little baby skis. Heck, their boots practically go up to their thighs, but at least you’re
brainwashing teaching them early to love the finer things in life. The bonus is that by 2, they kind of know the drill and are pretty pumped to get rolling and skiing at age 2. In fact, we’re reaping the benefits of that big-time right now since Mason, at 5 years old, has fully embraced blacks and will cautiously follow us just about anywhere we’ll take him. Life is good!
If you’re on the fence about when your kids should start skiing, read this article on the best age for kids to ski to learn my thoughts.
Skiing While Carrying A Baby
While there are some resorts that will allow you to ski with a baby in a front carrier or backpack, the resorts that let you go skiing with baby in carrier are few and far between. We had our first experience of baby carrier skiing over Christmas and had a great time while Jimmy, age 8 months, slept the day away under my coat. Honestly, use caution, as when you ski with baby carrier, you can put both yourself and your baby at risk. I was only comfortable with baby carrier skiing because I knew that I’d be skiing with baby, alongside with Chloe who LOVES to show off her awesome pizza wedge and goes nice and slow. Skiing with baby in backpack should only be done if your baby is old enough to sit up (6+ months) and the baby is wearing an infant ski helmet. If you want to ski with baby carrier, I recommend that you follow the same precautions that I recommend for skiing pregnant (except avoiding all difficult terrain while skiing with a kid in a backpack).
Here’s our typical ski day when it’s just us:
8:30 Roll up to the lodge and unload the cargo. Head inside the lodge to gear up.
9:00 Andrew takes Chloe and Mason out for a few runs while I nurse Jimmy.
10:30 Andrew takes over with Jimmy and Chloe takes a hot chocolate break. Mason and I ski together.
12:00 Lunch. After lunch, I take Mason and Chloe out for a few runs while Andrew continues to man the lodge with Jimmy.
1:30 Chloe and I head inside while Andrew beats any last bit of strength out of Masons legs
2:30 Andrew skis alone while the kids and I gorge ourselves on cocoa and snacks
3:00 Andrew comes in and loads everyone up while I take a few runs.
3:30 Meet at the car and roll out.
3:32 Quiet at last, with three sleeping kids in the backseat.