Skiing with Infants and Toddlers in Tow

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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:

Snack time in the lodge

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.

Gearing up for the lift

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. 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.

Rocking the magic carpet at 18 months

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.

16 thoughts on “Skiing with Infants and Toddlers in Tow”

  1. Jess, I love your enthusiasm and make it work attitude. What a great way to spend the day on the slopes. Thanks for sharing your approach down to the tiny details.

  2. Have any of your kids been really reluctant to try skiing? We have a 4 year old and a 2.5 year old. The little one (my girl) would probably be great at learning to ski, she’d have fun. My boy (4yr), not so much, he’s not real sporty or athletic and not particularly interested. But I sure would love to get out again.

    1. Kathy- We pretty much brainwash our kids from birth so that they have always thought that skiing is the coolest thing ever (I guess the ski videos I watched while pregnant helped). That being said, we have had other sports they were reluctant to try. my best advice is to not push too hard and focus on having fun. If your 4 year old is focused on what he can’t do, it will probably be pretty hard. However, if he gets lots of positive feedback (balanced out with treats and hot chocolate) it’s likely he’ll have a great time. A big bonus is that most resorts let kids under 5 ski free so now is a great time to try before you have to buy him a ticket.

  3. Our daughter is gonna be 14-15mths this ski season and we really would like to get her up on the ski mountain. I was curious about where your finding ski mountains that will allow that young of children. Also curious where you get the ski equipment for infants. I would hope to find used equip. Its a shame but our local ski mtn ( Terry Peak ) will not allow children near that young on the mountain?

    1. Buck- We have not had any problem with mountains not letting little kids go skiing, and I’ve never heard of age minimums before. None of them here have age limits on lifts, but do require that the child can walk onto the lift by themselves (we have to pick them up to get on though). This only works though if you’re going to teach them yourself, since most ski schools wont take them until they are 3 or 4. As far as gear goes, the smallest boots we’ve ever seen have been a mondo 15. All of our kids started on 80 cm skis too, although they make them as small as in the 60’s they are just much harder to find used. When you’re taking a really young kid skiing, it’s important to remember that they can’t to much. Although ours started at 18months, none of them could really walk in their boots until they were 2, and at this age, they basically just stand up. The boots go so high on their legs that it’s nearly impossible for them to fall over, so this is a fantastic time to get them working on balance. This first season or 2, it’s all about getting your kids to love skiing, not about conquering big skills. Good luck!

  4. I would agree with all of this (my daughter has been on skis since 18 months) and I would also add that there are some amazing resorts out there for kids. Our local resort (Crested Butte) has a children’s museum IN THE BASE AREA. We pay $200 per year for a membership and BAM! No more hauling toys or anything else. It’s excellent for doing the whole trade-off thing. Also, some ski resorts do weekly lesson programs for kids as young as 3. Crested Butte runs an 8-week program for kids 3 and up and a 13-week program for ages 4 and up. We taught our daughter to ski until we could put her in lessons. Putting her in lessons was a game-changer. Skiing with peers and an amazing teacher elevated her skills significantly (it also helps they have frequent hot chocolate breaks). Lastly, several times a year, my husband and I splurge on a babysitter for the day and just ski together. It is so worth the money (though we live very close to the ski area so we don’t have to figure in transportation time as much). We skied 50 days a year pre-kids. We now get in about 40 days after having two children. It CAN be done.

    One day, my kids may choose not to ski but at least they will know HOW and can always return to it!

  5. Thank you for sharing! I thought getting my 1 year old out on the slopes this winter was totally reasonable, but everyone looks at me like I’m crazy! He’ll be 18 months in January, so I thought the timing was perfect (if he walks, he can ski, right?). Now, to just find some inexpensive used gear…

  6. Thank you for the inspiration! I previously worked as a ski instructor and skiing remains a hugely important part of my life. This winter I have a 10 month old and my husband and I were hoping to take him with us on an upcoming ski weekend. He usually takes two naps during the day and I am sorry to say he is kind of nap needy (meaning he sleeps in a dark room, with a sound machine and whatnot-rarely do we get him to sleep in the car). So my question is…does anyone have thoughts about napping on ski days? Do we just skip them and hope he falls asleep on the drive home? I’m a newbie at this whole parenting thing so thank you for your thoughts!

    1. Honestly, my biggest advice would be to make his at home nap schedule less structured. While it’s nice for those at home days, a 10 month old who needs 2 naps and can’t sleep anywhere but home, is probably a quick way to make your adventures really hard (you can swing it with older kids that just take one nap, but I wouldn’t do it for 2). I would start by gradually lightening up the room at nap time. It will probably make for several hard days as you transition, but it will make getting out so much easier. Also, I would suggest getting him used to sleeping in places other than his bed. For example, set up a travel crib in his room sometimes to teach him how to nap there, or even a reclining stroller (though you will need to monitor him more there). I think the only way that we’ve been able to do as much as we have with really little ones is that we dedicate a lot of time to training them to sleep on the go so they can sleep through our adventures (then you get the nice perk of actually getting to talk with your husband like an adult which is one of my favorite perks).

  7. Thanks so much for this post! My husband and I are trying to get out to ski this year with our 17 month toddler in tow, so any rationalization/justification to this end is welcome. Like Darcey, I too am worried about The NAP. Unfortunately, our daughter is on a nap schedule as she is in daycare M-F. Trying to figure out how to make it work. Thanks for your tips.

  8. I found your blog while was searching about skiing wig small children. We were going for 6 days ski vacations and my husband can’t get off the work. It leaves me with 9, 5 and 1 year old by myself. I am still not sure if I should go. It is 7 hours drive from home and the baby will have to be in daycare for half day, so I can ski with older kids.

  9. As a follow-up to my previous post regarding THE NAP. We’ve been skiing twice for the day and on both days I managed to sit in the car and nurse our daughter to sleep. She had a one-hour nap (and I was able to nap too) while daddy skied. I think it worked out. Luckily it has been warm and sunny enough to stay in the car. I’m sure that when it is really cold, that I’ll either have to start the car to warm it up or forgo the nap. I’m not sure she’ll fall asleep in the lodge as there is too much going on.

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