We just returned from our first trip skiing with kids and had a blast! I was definitely nervous beforehand about taking kids skiing for the first time, but everything went as planned (minimal tears!). My son was 4-years-old when we went, which turned out to be a great age for us. Next year, when my younger son is three I will probably give skiing with toddlers a go! We went to Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, New York, and absolutely loved this hill. They have an amazing kids program that starts at age 3! After living through it, I’ve compiled a list of the best tips I have for making your first ski or snowboarding trip with little ones the best!
If you are more of a visual person, check out this video I made on my facebook page that highlights all the tips.
How to take kids skiing for the first time video
Prepare in Advance
I’ve noticed that if I show my son some YouTube videos beforehand, our activity always goes WAY more smoothly! This time I showed him some videos of kids skiing and my son got SO EXCITED! He was jumping all around the house practicing his moves for a week. This tip also works for almost any event!
Snowboarding or Skiing for Kids?
I wanted my son to try skiing because, well, I am a skier! I also knew it would be easier for him and he would be more confident right away. However, he was determined to try snowboarding. Knowing my (strong-willed) son, I knew if I didn’t let him try snowboarding there was going to be some epic tantrums, so….. we did snowboarding. And low and behold, after his 30-minute lesson he said, ‘Mommy, tomorrow I want to try skiing because it looks EASIER!” Mommy win!
We didn’t buy any fancy kids skiing gear for our little skiing toddler. We simply put on two long sleeved shirts and two pairs of pants. We already had a great snowsuit from Mountain Equipment and Co-op which is super warm and cozy. My son has a weird thing about not wearing thick socks so unfortunately, I could only get him to wear his regular thin socks. Luckily, it wasn’ that cold when we went. We used our amazing toddler balaclava and our toddler mitts to keep the little guy warm.
Don’t forget the helmet!
Seriously, snow safety is so important! Even though little toddlers and preschoolers won’t likely be going fast on the hills, getting into the habit of always wearing a helmet is important. Mommy and daddy always wear their helmets too, which helps! We got my son this awesome Spiderman Helmet and he was stoked to be wearing it!
Unless you are going to be skiing a LOT, renting is probably the best bet at this age. We were able to rent skis and snowboards and ‘try it out’ before deciding if we want to buy next year. With kids growing so fast, buying new isn’t often great value. Plus, not having to carry equipment to the hill is a big bonus!
Take a lesson
I don’t know about you, but my kids are EXPERT listeners when they aren’t listening to ME. We signed up my son for a private lesson on the first day and he spent those 30 minutes absolutely taking in everything that his instructor said. For me, the early lesson is key. Our lesson was supposed to be 50 minutes but our son was looking drained so we called it off early to make sure that the first experience was a good one. I’m hoping next year, now that he has had the exposure, I can put him in regular group lessons.
I went on this long weekend trip thinking that I would be happy with one hour of snow time per day. I wanted my son to have a great time, and not remember the trip as the time I dragged him up and down the hill for hours on end. On our second day, we went and got some snacks in between bunny skiing. My hubby and I left our son with my brother one afternoon so we could actually hit the slopes properly ourselves!
We rented a beautiful HomeAway rental for this trip, and although it was great fun, next trip I am going to look for a place with access to the hills (ideally, the bunny hill!). I didn’t think there would be any point in being ‘on the hill’ with a kid who was barely going to ski, but I realize now that close access allows for more frequent breaks with a chance to get back on the hills after regrouping! If we could have taken breaks in our place and not had to lug our equipment back and forth we probably would have gotten a few more runs in.
When you are taking kids skiing for the first time, learning the correct technique is WAY LESS IMPORTANT than plain old having fun! Introducing kids to skiing should be a great experience for everyone. Have fun, laugh when you tumble, turn the runs into a game and let your little one know how awesome they are doing on the hill.
Do you have any great trips for skiing with kids for the first time? Let me know in the comments below!