Is it your first time skiing? Or is it the first time you are taking your child skiing? It’s great to get little kids skiing and enjoying the snow and if you are an avid skier, you can still hit the slopes even if you have a babe in arms.
Here are some hints, tips and links to get you and your little ones out and about having fun on the slopes!
Know your child, and prepare them before you go!
Toddler and pre-schoolers can get really daunted by new environments and places. One way to get them used to the slopes is to gradaully get them used to the idea; through televison programmes (Pingu or Happy Feet maybe?), online pictures of kids on the slopes, trips to the dry ski slopes or hit the slopes of Birmingham’s Snowdome if you are lucky enough to be nearby. Get them out playing in the snow whenever you can.
Buy tickets on line
Check the times of flights, transfers and the facilities before you book. Are you taking the ski train? Can you hire your ski’s poles, boots and helmets (good idea if you are a first timer otherwise make sure you buy your own ski helmet!) and pay for your ski passes on line? It makes it so much easier, can be cheaper and means you don’t waste precious skiing time when you get there.
Do your research – go to a smaller or family friendly resort
Does the resort have child friendly slopes and a playground or two? The little ones may not want to spend all day on the slopes so make sure there is space for them to be out and about having fun in the snow. My favourite places to go when I was a kid where L’Alpe Du Huez and Murren (no cars and a revolving restaurant at the top of the mountain = amazing!!) but check out the top places to find the best resort for you.
Sign up early for ski school
Unless you are a fully qualified instructor yourself, then it is probably best to leave this up the professionals. Classes are small and geared to the right level of experience and the right age group for your little one. They can start as young as three. If they are used to day care then they will love it! An English speaking school is always a good idea if that is the only language your little one knows, and some resorts have English Schools while others will have local ones, such as Ecole Du Ski Francais, who provide excellent classes, for all levels!
Print and fill out waivers – and get a discount for doing it!
It is so much easier to print and fill out the waivers at home. And the great thing is that some places give you a discount for doing this. It saves them, and you, time because they can get on with hiring out more kit to new walk in customers – who are likely to pay more!
Buy good goggles – even for the kids
The lenses in ski goggles are tougher and different from sun glasses and are fit for the job. Sun glasses may look great but they aren’t so great when you or your little one take a tumble. Get some decent snow goggles and clip them on your little ones helmet. That way they won’t get left behind in a cafe, gondola or ski lift.
Wear dri-fit and layers, layers, layers
Make sure you pack the right stuff for the little ones:
- Thermals – long sleeve vests and long johns
- Thick socks – pack more than you need so you have spares in case they get wet!
- Tights – to go under the long johns if it is really cold – and they help keep little toes cosy too!
- Leggings – try and get some fleece lined ones otherwise wool will do
- Fleece – take a couple, and make sure they are long sleeve with a roll neck
- Wool gloves or Thinsulate gloves to wear under the ski mittens
- Sallopets – I would suggest trouser style when they are young so they are easy to get out of when they need to. When they are older over the shoulder style sallopets are even better
For Apres ski
- Snow boots. These are a must! Not only do they keep feet warm and toasty they also stop you from slipping!
- Ski jacket – a regular jacket won’t keep out the snow and the cold as well as a ski jacket will.
- Snow suit – it’s great playing in the snow, and these will keep the kids warm and dry while having fun.
- Hat. We love the ones with the flaps over the ears, but you may want to get a hat and ear muffs too.
- Swimming costume! A lot of hotels have an indoors swimming pool that is great to use after a days skiing. Some have an outdoor pool and swimming in a warm pool surrounded by snow is an amazing experience not to be missed!
DON”T let little ones wear a onesie when they are out and about – it’s really hard to get all the layers off when they need to go to the loo but a onesie will just take too long and end up in an accident!
Buy hand warmers
Having cold hands can lead to lots of tears. A spare pair of gloves can help, but if the hands a really cold to touch give them a hand warmer to hold onto, or place between their woolly glove and mitten, just to get the chill off their fingers.
Bring extras – and chocolate!
Accidents happen. And trust me they happen on the slopes and not having apsres can be miserable and horrible. Even if it is only a dry top/pair of socks/gloves just to get off the slopes and back to the hotel it will just take the edge off being wet and miserable.
If they are lagging in energy a nice piece of chocolate can help them get to the the end of the piste, or help on that walk back to the hotel.
A busy day enjoying the slopes and the snow builds up a hearty appetite. The fresh air and exercise will mean the youngsters are hungry but are ready for bed early.
Some hotels have baby sitting services that you may be happy to use. Otherwise going skiing with family members or other families with young kids can mean you take it in turns to baby sit while the rest of you go out and have fun.
Of course if you are staying in a private chalet with a chef and chalet team you can enjoy Apres Ski in your chalet, with the kids tucked up safely in bed!
A great first experience with skiing can embed a love that can last a life time, create some fantastic memories and build life long friendships. Kids who learn to ski young often learn quickly, and are safe skiers and snow boarders. A real joy in life!