Anybody else buy one of those “I Love Big Dumps” onesies for their future skier the moment you found out you were pregnant? Or have you dreamed about the day that you can scope out lines through the trees with your daughter? Sharing your love of skiing with your little one is every bit as magical as you think it will be. But let’s be honest, that first day on the snow can also feel frustrating for both of you if you don’t take the right approach. If you’ve got to haul your 18 month‑3 year old along on your ski trip with you, we have a few tips to make that first introduction to the slopes
You’ve been patiently waiting for the day that you can ski with your tot- how do you know if they are ready? If you’ve checked out a few different ski school programs, you’ve likely noticed that most don’t begin until 3yrs old. Young toddlers do not have the proper muscle development to properly turn in skis- but that doesn’t mean they can’t spend some time getting familiar with the gear and the feeling of gliding on the snow. From our experience, toddlers as young as 14 – 18 months have fun out on the snow with the right expectations and approach.
Your toddler most likely won’t be riding the lift the first day you introduce them to skiing. In fact, they might not even click into a set of bindings. Instead of focusing on reaching a goal (like skiing a green run), focus on helping your little one feel comfortable on the snow. Keeping your expectations low takes the pressure off of everybody and keeps the day feeling positive. The only expectation you should have about those first few experiences should be that the day at the resort feels positive and that your little one has an enjoyable first exposure to skiing.
First Day on the Snow
While your family is likely spending the entire day at the resort, your littlest skier might only spend a few 15 minute chunks of time on the snow. And that’s great! Loveland Ski Instructor, Caitlyn Concklin, suggests that the first exposure to skiing is all about familiarizing your little one with the gear and the snow. Remember, learning to walk in ski boots is a major accomplishment! We suggest having your little one spend the morning in the lodge walking around in ski boots before going outside with all the gear. Once you venture outside, just focus on play. A day on the mountain should always feel like play for children. Whether you are making snow angels, playing tag, or throwing snowballs, being able to do that in all the ski gear is the first big accomplishment for a toddler. Remember, moving with skis is more work- it’s important that your little one feels confident being able to move with all the gear on before they click into bindings.
Clicking Into Skis
After your kiddo feels comfortable moving through the snow in ski boots and outerwear, they might be ready to try a pair of skis. Once the skis are one, encourage your little one to practice moving around the base of the resort. They might feel confident enough to “duck walk”, side step, and maybe even glide forward on a small, slanted slope. Remember, that first day is all about getting accustomed to the gear and building confidence.
End the Day on a High
Remember, the goal when skiing with little ones is to build positive experiences around skiing. Caitlyn warns, “It does no good to be forceful in the learning process because that can turn off kids to skiing all together (I’ve seen this with some pushy parents). I wouldn’t go and set specific mile markers (stopping or turning) in their learning the first month. Their bodies need to become used to everything first. Children will get tired quickly! Four runs on the magic carpet for them feels like a heavy day of steep skiing for us.”
Keep the day fun and lighthearted, even if your little skier only wants to be out on the snow for 30 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be trying to keep up with them down the mountain.
Juggling all the gear along with your children can be a headache. Let us help! We’d love to take care of your family this year as you introduce your littlest skier to the mountain!