Here are our best tips when skiing with kids. Skiing requires a lot of planning and preparation. It's worth it! Everything you need to know.
Skiing with our kids is absolutely my favorite winter family activity. It's thrilling to have a great day on the mountains with the kids. The feeling is one of a kind.
We ski several times a week with our two young kids. We're lucky enough to live close to awesome ski resorts. We definitely take advantage of it. Both kids started really skiing the winter they turned three.
There's a lot of behind the scenes planning and preparation that goes into getting a fun day on the ski mountain with kids. It's worth it though. And I'm here to share some tips and tricks we have picked up over the many ski days.
It's worth mentioning that the top priority to us is that that our kids enjoy skiing. We aim to end each ski day at a spot where the kids are looking forward to putting skis on again. We aren't trying to make Olympic skiers.
This is my comprehensive checklist of what what I mentally run through before every season, and before every ski day. It's long, so feel free to skip ahead to what's relevant for you.
Best Kids Gear for Skiing
I'm going to start at the basics. Having good gear is essential for skiing with kids. There's so much to say about ski gear, so I have a separate post about it.
I'll link to some of our favorite stuff here though. Check out the list below if you want a shortcut finding the best kids ski gear.
- Jacket and Snow Pants: My favorite system is from Shred Dog. It's the same system that my son uses for his ski team. We use the Elevated Hardshell, the Elevated Insulator and the Elevated Bibs.
- Mittens and Gloves: We love these waterproof, insulated long mittens with zipper for both our kids.
- Base Layers: Avoid 100% cotton. Our kids wear Little Sleepies and Posh Peanut pajama sets as base layers.
- Mid Layers: Any 100% polyester fleece will do. We wear this Amazon fleece, and on super cold days, the kids also wear fleece pants too.
- Ski Socks: Skip the thick ski socks. They often make chubby little kid feet too bulky for ski boots. Our kids prefer light cushion ski socks. Wool ones are great!
- Helmet: Absolutely necessary and look for a MIPS helmet. Here's an awesome kids ski helmet with an integrated visor. This is what I'm getting them next.
- Goggles: A good toddler ski goggle. Our kids also use these Bollé ski goggles.
Regardless what gear you use, to make it even more fun, let the kids personalize their stuff. Both our kids put stickers all over their helmets. We also iron on patches to their fleece layers. These little simple things really make it easier when we ask the kids to gear up because they enjoy wearing the stuff.
Pack Lots of Snacks when Skiing with Kids
Have a lot of enticing snacks. Snacks are crucial! The holy grail of ski snacks can be:
- Stored in the pocket
- Won’t get crushed
- Small enough to pop directly into a kid’s mouth
- Filled with energy
We have tested a lot of different snacks. Pick a few snacks from each category, whether you want to fuel up the kid on the chairlift, or let them sit and take a short break.
Perfect Ski Snacks for the Chairlift Ride
Here are a few quick and easy ski snacks we love for the chair lift ride:
- Peanut Butter M&Ms (comparatively less added sugar and more protein)
- Gummy bears
- Made Good Granola Minis
Have more ideas? Please share in the comments below.
Perfect Ski Snacks for a Short Break
These snacks work for a quick break before getting on a lift, or before skiing down. You don’t need to head to the lodge to have these quick filling snacks.
- Yogurt pouches
- Chia pouches
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter jelly sandwiches
- Grilled cheese sandwich strips
Water Bottles for Skiing
There’s a few water options that we like best.
Camelback is fun and the kids love it. But it is a huge pain to wash. When kids snack, then drink water, little food bits tend to float back into the straw. Gross.
So, we like these tiny bottles. They fit into my jacket pocket. Our eight-year-old also carries one in his own pocket. They hold just enough water for when you are on the slopes. And there are lots of places to refill bottles on the mountains.
Should I Use a Ski Harness with My Kid
A ski harness absolutely makes skiing with kids so much easier. We put a ski harness on our daughter every time. The harness helps save our back. A ski harness makes it easy to:
- lift up a kid to get them on the chairlift,
- drag a kid around on skis when they can't make it across a flat part,
- hold on to a kid while sitting on the chairlift, and
- pick up a kid when they fall.
For our little kid, we like the NipperGrip since there are handles on both front and back. I don't think they make it anymore. But if you can, find one that is most similar. You can see it in the photo above.
Alternatively, a ski vest with a handle on the back is amazing to use too. This is what the resorts use. See it in the photo below. You can help pick up heavier little kids with the vest because of the way it zips around the whole upper body. Great for powder days when they might get really stuck!
The resort required our son to wear this for ski team until he was seven for safety reasons too.
Using a Ski Leash with Toddlers
Do you need a ski leash for a toddler? It depends.
We used a leash when our little kid was two, but stopped during age three. That’s because fearless two-year-olds will happily bomb straight down a ski hill with so much glee. The leash was necessary to slow her down!
I also felt a bit safer skiing with her when she used a leash. The leash between me and her kept skiers and snowboarders from cutting close behind her. It's truly terrifying when someone zooms fast right by a tiny kid.
Now, we sometimes will use the leash when we go on a new steeper run. I don't think she actually needs it. But it gives her confidence to try new runs. We bring it, and only put it on if she asks.
Don't Forget to Take Bathroom Breaks when Skiing with Kids
Kids always seem to need the bathroom at the most inopportune time. This goes without saying, but don't forget to have the kids use the bathroom before gearing up. We have forgotten many times. And when they kids are small, it requires taking all the gear off.
When we started skiing with our two-year-old, even though she was potty trained, we would put a pull up on her for ski days. It’s just one less thing to worry about.
It can take a bit of time to get all the ski gear off, and ski resort bathrooms often have lines. Plus, many bathrooms at ski resorts seem to require walking down a flight of steps.
So, make sure you plan in bathroom breaks when skiing with kids. Don't wait until the last minute when the kid actually needs to go.
Let the Kids Rest when Skiing
I can’t count the number of times I've sat in a ski lodge holding a sleeping kid. But that’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s much better to let the kids rest.
Skiing is incredibly draining for a little kid, especially toddlers. It requires so much energy to wear all the gear, to wear the heavy boots and skis, and to simply keep their little bodies warm.
Realistically, I find a two to three-year-old can ski for maybe 30 minutes before needing a break. The first break can be taken sitting outside and having a snack. By the one hour mark, we try to take a break in the lodge. In addition, we pop a little chocolate or gummy in her mouth every ride up the chairlift.
As they get older and more comfortable on skis, we ski longer stretches. The seven-year-old will ski four hours straight, and not want to take a break. It is also very weather dependent.
Don't forget that taking a break, playing with (eating) snow, and drinking hot chocolate are all part of having fun while skiing with kids.
Are Ski Lessons Necessary for Kids?
Kids can really benefit from taking lessons. All the instructors we have come across are great at teaching kids. Plus, they have the experience and make it fun.
We ski with our kids a lot and teach them quite a bit. But they also have both done lessons.
If you chose to sign your kid up for lessons, be mentally prepared that the kid might not last the entire lesson. Even though we have kids who are great about skiing and love it, sometimes they just can't last the entire session.
We also have had friends who have had to pick up kids early from lessons. Even more, one friend's kid was so exhausted by the time they made it to the resort and geared up, that the kid fell asleep in his arms right before the lesson started.
Unpredictability is part of skiing with kids. It's hard when you have committed to a lesson time.
But we try to remember, the real goal should be to get kids to enjoy skiing. That way they will do it again and again. And unfortunately, you can't do that with a grumpy or tired kid.
Have Fun Skiing with Kids
We try our best to give our kids positive memories with skiing. That way, they want to get back on the mountain. Honestly though, sometimes it just doesn't work out on a particular day for whatever reason.
I hope that by sharing some of our experiences, you found some tips and tricks that will work when skiing with your kids.
Do you have any tips you'd like to share? Feel free to comment below.