Ultimate Guide to Skiing With Your Toddler

Exploring activities
Most kids under the age of 3 just want to play in the snow and learn about the new environment, says Mitchell. “At age 3, children can enter ski school, where they take lessons for a few hours during the day but can also play in the snow,” he notes. “By age 4, children are learning how to ski for a few hours in the morning and then again in the afternoon, and still have some free time to just play.”

A lot of ski resorts have designated “snow-play” areas all over the place, where you can grab your sled, go tubing, make snow angels, build a fort or snowman, or have a snowball fight. “These areas are just on the side of the highways and allow you to pull off the road and enjoy the forests and meadows,” says Mitchell. “There are also cross-country areas that rent ‘polks,’ which are basically sleds that you attach to your waist so you can cross-country ski and pull your toddler behind you.” Other fun things to do with kids in some areas include horse-drawn sleigh rides and dog-sled rides.

Easing into it
New experiences aren’t easy for anybody, especially little ones. So familiarize your child with the gear, equipment and activities you’ll be exploring together. Schaffer recommends reading books and watching videos about skiing and other snow sports-as well as letting your child play with all the gear-ahead of time. Let him stand on the skis or snowboard while he’s still inside, or pull him around the living room in a sled, and practice putting on mittens, hats, bibs, boots and helmets, too.

Even if you’re just planning on going to a snow-play area, explore the outdoor environment bit by bit rather than throwing your child straight into it. “Let them practice stomping through packed, loose or icy snow,” Schaffer says. Remember, you want this to be a fun new discovery-not a frightening one. “Just like at the playground, allow your child to explore,” Mitchell says. “Perhaps the first time you go to the snow, you simply allow your children to roam around. Teach them how to make snow angels. Don’t worry about putting them in ski/board school right away.”