5 top tips for skiing with a toddler


Putting our little ones into professional ski lessons will give them a great start on the snow. Their instructor will have a tool box of tricks to teach them the necessary new skills, and experiencing in teaching small humans. With that in mind, taking your own kids for a ski is an excellent way to supplement their lessons and put mileage on their skis. If you do feel comfortable to do so – here are 5 tips to ski with your toddler.

1. It`s all snow play

The average 3 year old will be as interested in a piece of litter on the snow than they will be in their skis. The more we try to push our skiing agenda and dismiss their interest in a snowman or shovelling snow into their mouths – the more they may push back against it. Our first goal therefore is to make them comfortable in the snow and to view skiing as a fun aspect of snow play; not the sole objective of being outside. As painfully slow as it feels for us adults, it is so important to share their interest in this new skiing environment; otherwise skiing for them may seem like another thing mum & dad really want us to do, and therefore do the opposite. Allow time to enjoy being in the snow, and for skiing to be a highlight of snow play.

2. Encourage independence

As the average infant will initially lack the skills required to move around easily on the snow, the fastest way for them to learn is to be provided the opportunity to try themselves. Again – though it may seem painfully slow – do resist the temptation to do everything for them. By all means help them – by demonstrating, talking and offering a hand – but try not to carry them between one place and another all of the time as they will not master those basic standing, shuffling & skating skills. Ultimately, if they one can control their movements even in a small way, they will find the whole experience far less frustrating; encourage them to use a Magic Carpet solo as well as clipping on their own skis. This will also create some ownership and control over their equipment & actions.

3. Hold the pole

Once you have hit the slopes, it is great for your little one to feel the sensation of the skis sliding on the snow, and how to balance on them. A great way to provide this is by skiing side by side and having your pole across you both horizontally. Have them hold on with both hands and always be at the ready should their legs turn into spaghetti and they slide under it. This will force the feeling of skiing without requiring them to have all of the skills; they will learn to stand up on their skis, slide and balance. Plus – it is not too uncomfortable for the adults!

4. Try a tip connector

Once you have put some miles on by sliding, you can introduce the idea of a snowplough or `pizza` slice. It is highly unlikely that a very small child will connect what you show them with their own body`s movements, but with time the penny will drop so it is good to introduce the idea. It is not uncommon for toddlers to attempt a snowplough by putting their feet both together, or both very wide, but much harder to created the necessary triangular shape. Tip connectors or `edgey wedgey`s` are small devices that come in a variety of styles and force the ski tips to stay close to one another. When the child tries to push their skis apart it will force the snowplough shape so as to allow them to feel the movement without having to master it right away. Once they consistently use the snowplough in the right context with the tip connector – i.e to slow down – then you can remove it with the hope that the muscle memory is there. Do so cautiously at first and be ready to catch them!

5. Have them ski towards you

Finally, try skiing in front of the toddler but facing backwards yourself. This allows you to be an emergency barrier for them if their snowplough fails or is still being learnt, and also encourages them to lean forwards and not backwards. When adults ski directly behind small kids or have them between their legs, it is all too easy for them to take advantage of the free back rest and they will probably end up leaning back onto you. They may then end up going along for the ride without learning to stand on their skis, hold their own weight or control their legs in anyway. So, if you do tandem ski, it is a good idea to be facing them in front of them so you can support, encourage and catch.

There are many different and effective ways to teach and ski with toddlers, and as we know, no two children are the same. Do explore different techniques until you find the ones that your child and you and comfortable with. And, when you need a break – let the professional instructors do what they do best.

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Comments (6)

  1. Bob says:

    Yes, start them young before they’ve got any fear. Then feel old when they accelerate past you before their 8th birthday.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Hi Bob, that is usually exactly what happens! They certainly do not have the same concept of danger at that age and it is in many ways advantageous to their learning.

  2. Caroline Bartlett says:

    I totally agree with this. I presented as many opportunities as I could, as early as was sensible, with my children. They need to know that there is a world of adventure out there and you just don’t get your adrenaline buzz from living life through a screen. Try them with skiing early on and if they don’t take to it give them another go later on.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Well said Caroline – I couldn`t agree more! In an age of instant gratification and device addiction, it is more important than ever to expose our youngsters to nature and sport and a young age.

  3. Joaquin says:

    Letting your kids experience adventure as early as possible is a good thing because it widens the range of their capacities and interests. A parent should encourage their children to try new things so that they can know what kind of hobbies they like. Also, introducing different sports or hobbies to your children might help them develop a passion for these kinds of activities, and maybe becoming a great athlete someday, who knows?

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thanks for your comment Joaquin, I fully agree; the impact of sports, interest, hobbies and the outdoors is huge on kids!

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