The road to teaching your toddler to ski can feel quite daunting – but we’re here to give you the shortcut to teaching your toddler how to ski in 3 days (or less). This article focuses on how best to prepare your little one before going on the mountain. Once you’re ready to go on the mountain, check out our 3-day guide on teaching your toddler how to ski.
How do you know if your little one is ready?
Generally, age 4 is a pretty safe time to start teaching your kid how to ski. They’ll have better motor skills, and can attend all day ski school (most places don’t even offer lessons until they’re at least 3-years-old).
Having said that, we did start earlier (at 2.5 years old with our first kid) and you can too. Here are some signs you can look for:
- How stable are they on their two feet? Are they running down hills without a care in the world? Or are they reaching for the nearest hand whenever things are looking dicey?
- How is your child with other new physical activities (i.e. swimming, using a scooter / balance bike / etc.)? If they generally lean apprehensive, you might want to consider waiting to preserve your chances that their first experience is a positive one – a lifelong love for skiing is worth not rushing into! But if your child is the type to jump into a pool with reckless abandon, I have a feeling they’ll like skiing too.
What’s the best gear to buy for toddlers?
Once you’ve decided that your toddler is ready to hit the slopes, it’s time to talk gear! The biggest question you’ll need to think through is: rent or buy?
I highly recommend renting all the equipment you can at this age -- at the very least, rent your skis and boots. And if you can, try to avoid renting at the resort because they're always limited in terms of sizes AND lines are always crazy. To preserve your sanity, and to also ensure you'll find the right sizes for your little one's feet, try to rent equipment before you get to the resort. In California, we recommend the wide selection at Sports Basement (and flexible renting terms too!). For those outside California, check out your local, independent ski shops!
The must-buy items are:
- Edgie Wedgie: This is the most important thing you can purchase for your toddler. As you’ll see in our next article, the most critical skill to teach your toddler is how to stop. This tool keeps the tips of their skis together, effectively forming a wedge (or pizza, triangle, snow plow, etc.) whenever they spread their legs out. This simple purchase will accelerate how quickly they’ll learn how to stop, and give them the confidence to tackle any hill on their own.
- Harness: Another critical purchase to make your life easier is a ski harness. A harness is great for helping your toddler turn, stop… and also you get them back up with the SUPER helpful handle on the back.
- Helmet: While many places allow you to rent helmets, we opted to purchase one because i) it’s a great way for them to express some individuality (the Giro brand in our link has a LOT of options); and ii) helmets last a long time as they’re adjustable, and we use the same helmet for skating.
- Mittens: I prefer waterproof mittens over gloves at this age because they’re easier to get on, and they can still have control of their hands while staying warm! The hard part is finding ones that have a cinch at the top so that they stay on.
- Ski Suit: While you can definitely get by with a normal jacket + snow pants (we did this in his first ski season), we’ve grown to really appreciate ski suits. They’re easier to get on, are super warm, and waterproof (depending on the brand). The one we’ve linked is on the expensive side, but I have nothing but great things to say – especially when it was 0 degrees celsius + pouring rain outside.
Now that you’re ready to start skiing, click here for our 3-day guide to teaching your toddler how to ski!