or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Help with skiing with a Toddler
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Help with skiing with a Toddler

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

My wife & I are devoted skiers, ski at the same level (8-9) and love to ski together, but unfortunately work has me living in Chicago.  This summer we adopted the greatest child from Ethiopia who will be 2 in November (2010).  This winter we're going to get him on those toddler skis in the park so he'll be ready for some real lessons next year but this year is a problem for traveling to the mountains.  My question to you parents who have done this before, how do you ski with a child who is not ready to ski yet?  Daycare on the mountain?  Which mountains out west have the best daycare and still not break the bank?  We're both looking forward to next year but we're perplexed about this year.  Anyone have some suggestions?  By the way, leaving him with the grandparents, aunt or uncle is not an option. 

post #2 of 16

I think you have it, daycare at the resort. the larger areas around Tahoe for example will have it, I believe. a front sling style carrier could be fun for a couple runs if the hill is mellow. I think if the weather is nice, you can hire a baby sitter to hang out with the toddler at the base of the mountain. some couples take turns skiing and sitting, not as good for skiing a lot.

post #3 of 16

Forget about the toddler skis.  Total waste of money.  Instead, just put him on real gear (doesn't matter if the smallest boot size is too big).  The way you start is (after you let him walk around on skis a bit--and inside is great for this) you hike about 10 feet up a very gentle hill and let him straight-line to mother.  Do this a bunch, and increase the distance as he gets comfortable (and has taken a few crashes & is comfortable with that too).  Once he's good straight-lining and is comfortable balancing on skis at speed, you can move to skiing him in the harness off the chairlift.  Somewhere between 3 and 4, he'll develop enough leg strength to start to wedge, at which point you take him off the harness and let him start skiing on his own.  When using the harness, try to keep it slack so you aren't pulling him in the back seat. 


Meanwhile (and for the foreseable future) its daycare on the hill.  Look for one with a toddler program that will get him on the snow for at least part of the day.

post #4 of 16

Skiing with a kid is fun, skiing with a tiny kid is mostly a frustrating selfless sacrifice for uncertain future rewards.  I put my younger daughter on skis soon after she turned 2, but I did that because I was hanging out with her at the base anyway, I had a ski pass, and she already had all the gear from her older sister.  I took her up and we spent a couple of hours shuffling on the snow.  Honestly, I would not recommend doing it unless you are on the mountain often and have time to kill.  In your situation, you have to either look into a daycare, or take turns skiing.  Most likely it will end being a combination of two.  I don't know your living situation, but if you have a nanny and can afford to bring her on a trip, it should be well worth it (we never had a nanny, so I cannot speak about the particulars).  Final advice: make sure to spend some time with the kid just playing in the snow and make her/him feel happy, you want her to like the sport and look forward to the next year's trip.   (FWIIW, my 4.5 year old girl is a little dynamo on skis who bombs down the blues and is going to be in the Squaw Mighty Mites program this year, but I don't think that putting her on skis at 2 has much to do with it, it is more about her older sister being a good role model).   


P.S. Not a lot of ski schools take 3 year olds (and for a good reason), so check before booking the next year's trip.  


P.P.S. As much as I respect davluri , I would not do the front carrier under any circumstances- even if you are an awesome skier, there are plenty of idiots around who don't look in front of them, and don't know how to stop.  Unfortunately, the mellower the slope is, the more of those specimens tend to populate it.   And skiing with a load upfront sucks anyway, your balance is all wrong, etc. 

post #5 of 16

Try the resorts in Canadia. We found them to be much less expensive for day care due to the lower concentration of lawyer. At least that held true 13 yrs ago. 

post #6 of 16

First off, if you're looking for a western US ski hill with a great daycare and kid's program, Brundage Mtn in McCall, Idaho is very hard to beat.  We started our daughter on the snow 2 winters ago at Brundage at age 3.  We rented gear for her for the season at a local ski shop ($50 for the season -- bring the gear back at end of season) and then spent a couple hrs of the first day with her on the bunny hill.  Was a bit frustrating (for her and us), went to the ski school, asked around, and found the instructor that came highly recommended for little kids.  Forked over enough cash for an hour private lesson (they won't take kids less than 4 in group lessons) and by the end of the hr she's skiing solo down the bunny hill w/o crashing AND LOVING IT.  Spent another hr letting her show us her tricks, and she's had enough for the day.  Remainder of the season, we'd make a point of skiing a couple hrs on the bunny hill with her (and at age 3, that's about all they have energy and attention span for) and then she's looking forward to the remainder of the day at the ski hill daycare with the kids.  Got her a second private lesson near the end of the season, and before spring hit, she made a couple trips up the "big mountain" with us.


Last year (age 4, same Mtn) she's old enough for what Brundage calls their "Bear School".  Combination of daycare and ski school.  Check the kids in at 9, they'll play around for a while, hit the slopes with an instructor/babysitter from 9:30 - 11:00, back for lunch, slopes again from 1:00 - 2:30, and then hang out and play til Mom and Dad show up.  Instructors/babysitters divide the kids into like skill groups, and everyone pretty much has a ball.  We've managed our winter work schedules such that most of our ski days are mid-week, so when our daughter goes to Bear School, more often than not, she was one-on-one with the instructor, so it turns out to be equivalent to a 3-hr private lesson...  Her skills and confidence level on the slopes far exceed anything I had in mind at this age, and she loves it.  Best day of family skiing we had last year was at the end of the season after a spring storm.  16+ inches of fresh stuff, and we did a couple runs with her on a black diamond tree run.  Nothing but laughter and fun for all of us. 


KEY in this entire process though, is to NOT keep them on the slopes too much in any given day such that they get worn out or lose interest.  If/when you start seeing the signs of tiredness showing up, don't con yourself into the "let's just sneak in one more run..." scenario.  It will backfire badly, and you'll end the day on a bad note.  Don't ask me how I know...


Can't say enough about Brundage Mtn -- Great family ski area.  All of us are excited for this season to start.  good luck!  

post #7 of 16

+1 on the Canada recommendation.  Daycare does tend to be cheaper there and that's based on recent experience as well.


In the US, prices seem to vary more widely.  For me, daycare prices became a larger motivator on where to ski than lift ticket prices.  Most locations are convenient to the slopes and/or parking.  Both are important - check a map and plan how you're going to do the drop off and pick up.  One year we got lucky with an amazing late season deal at the Westin in Whistler.  Daycare was inside the same building, so we didn't even need to dress my son in outdoor clothes to bring him from our room to his daycare.  Assuming good weather, most places will include outside play time in the snow.  At Jackson, they took my daughter up the gondola - she was very excited.  I didn't believe her at first when she told me (what can you believe from a 2 yr old?).  The next day she was begging for her first day on skis at Targhee.


Half day programs are usually not worth it - they are often not close to half the price of the full day.


It does add a huge cost to a ski trip, but it wasn't really a choice for me.  Either I had to pay or I wasn't going to be skiing very much.


And when you plan to try skiing with the kid, do so on a day that you don't really want to ski by yourself.  It will be frustrating and it will be more work than you expect.

post #8 of 16

Some experience here. Not so much resort advice but as a snow loving father/grandpa. # 1 rule - First times out, fun in the snow. Sled. Toy skis. Snowman. Hot soup winter picnic. Keep it short, fun and comfortable for them.  And they are not all alike. Son never got cold and never wanted to come in. First in a pack, then a short time in a sled when he got too heavy. Did a 5k XC race on his own at four when it was 10 degrees and blowing. Daughter got cold easier so we did shorter outings. First a back pack and then a sled. My son's daughter, 18 mos. loves cold and snow. Rolls in it, eats it and whines when her dad goes out to ski and she isn't going. (They live by the lifts but spend most days together in the back country). We'll see about how the 12 mo. old grand son takes to cold this winter and I'll let him lead me. Probably too late for a front pack for you and I wouldn't feel safe with a back pack in bounds,  too many yahoos as previously stated. It's hard, but leave your ego in the lodge. Remember your raising them, not racing them. Enjoy the kids more than your own skiing is rule #2.  It'll come back to you. 


post #9 of 16

My advice?  Go mellow this year.  There are plenty of places that will take a toilet-trained 3 year old all day (Squaw, Northstar, Sugar Bowl), but not much for 2 year olds.  Best bet is to get a transferrable parent pass and switch off.  Play in the snow, etc.  When my kids were 2, we hired a sitter and skied.  From what I hear about adopted kids, there's a lot more separation anxiety; so, I wouldn't push it.  Look forward to next year when all you need to worry about is getting to ski school on time and convincing the kid to stay there without melting down for a few days.

post #10 of 16

+1 on mellowing it at this age. Nothing good will come out of it, not enough physical strength. Get the day care with some snow fun. Our youngest started last year when she was 3 and we just bought her smallest K2 Luv Bugs 76cm with roxy 1 - 2.5din bindings. No harness, just gliding down the slope with me backwards in front of her or by the side giving her to hold the ski pole.

Our major resorts in Oregon (both Mt Hood and Mt Bachelor) have both day cares for toddlers with 1-2h out on the snow if weather is nice. Full day runs ~$90, we have 10% off as a passholders. Friends of mine who went to Utah and Alberta, CA were very impressed by the family-friendly resorts there as well



post #11 of 16

We did daycare at The Canyons with an extra option...an instructor would take the kids on the snow (if ready) and have them play around with skis on near the magic carpet lift for an hour each day.  One day, 4 weeks before his 3rd birthday, our youngest son said he sat on the"bench" instead of going on the magic carpet.  My wife was upset since we were paying extra for the magic carpet experience.  The next day we found out the "bench" was his first chairlift!  OK, he had edgy-wedgies on his skis and didn't have the strength to get forward, but he was making turns before his 3rd birthday. 


Definitely do daycare, and see if they have an option to play or even ski on the snow.  If they take kids outside, be sure to speak to the daycare manager about what clothing and accessories your child will wear.  They tend to forget to dress the kids the way you would prefer unless you are very clear ahead of time.


One great place to find babysitters is at the ski school desk.  There are a number of nice people we met at each resort we visited working day jobs who were looking to make extra money babysitting in the evenings.

post #12 of 16

I started my little one at age 4.  We used the daycare/ski school at Taos and Winter Park.  I was pretty un-impressed with Taos despite the great reviews I'd heard.  But to their credit they offered me a free day after that horror show.  He loved Winter Park and has been back a few times since.  They didn't even seem mad when within the first 30 mins of his first lesson there he pulled the fire alarm!  That's my boy LOL 

Also, for peace of mind nearly all of the resorts have their daycares state acredited so you don't have to worry about that kind of stuff.

For me anyway that ski leash was a miserible failure.  All we got out of it was straightlining downhill, tangled straps, tears, and ending in an "I want to go home"  which is of course worst case scenario.  From then on I stopped using the leash and I still got an equal amount of tears.  But this time it was "I don't wanna go home" tears!  and "one more run" till my legs were about to fall off.  LOL

post #13 of 16

As most said - each kid is different. See what take and act accordingly.




post #14 of 16

Be sure to spend sufficient time playing in the snow with them before skiing and after.  Age two seems a bit young to actually try skiing, but next fall if you come across some used boots and 80 cm skis get them and let te kid put them on and stomp around your yard in them some before even taking them to a ski area They can do this in the grass, no snow required.   If they learn to walk around in boots, then clicking in to skis and taking them off, then walking around in boots and skis, then learn/practice how to get up they will do much better in their first real ski lessons. 

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Wow, great advise from everyone.  I want to thank all the Dads, Moms & Grandparents that took the time to share their good and bad experience.  I also want to thank anyone else who jumps in behind this with additional advice or areas that have great daycare. 

post #16 of 16

Bob, there has been a lot of great advice given, now you just have to choose which to follow! You can also try to mix it up a little: Daycare 1 day, then all of you go for a half day, then maybe 1/2 day of daycare & then shop with you or Mom while the other is out skiing. You get the picture. What worked for me was just skiing with the kids between my legs at that age, as I never used the harness or sling.


One of the things I found interesting in Europe was that they made it a family affair going to the ski area, sort of like we do at our beaches. Of course it would have to be a nice day, but they'd bring toys and chairs and set up a littel play area. Then grandparents, parents, etc would take turns watching the little ones as the others go skiing. They don't seem to have to count their vertical as much as we do.


 Its nice that we can all ski together as a family. We started them @ 3 and by 5 they could go down blues and only needed help getting onto the chairs as the seats were to high for them.


Keep your enthusiasm as we as a family all really look forward to skiing together.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Help with skiing with a Toddler