10 Tips for Teaching Toddlers to Ski or Board

It’s never too early to learn!

The snow continues to be fabulous! So far this year, this is the fourth most snowfall to date since 1970. If it doesn’t get too warm, we should have good conditions well into Spring! Right now, temperatures are in the 50s during the day, dropping down into the 20s at night. Great time to teach the little ones when it’s not too cold outside. We started our granddaughter, Iliana, age 2, on skis this year.

Tips for Teaching Toddlers to Ski or Board:

  1. First of all, what is the right age? This depends on you and your child. If you have an active, adventurous child, and you are a fairly competent skier, earlier is fine.  If your child is more reserved, or you are not comfortable teaching, maybe wait until they are old enough for bunny ski school. We started our oldest son at age 2 (almost 3), the next two at age 1 ½ .
  2. Introduce them to the snow gently, positively. Make sure they are dressed properly and have gloves or mittens on, and start on a relatively warm day. Cold snow on small bare hands can be unbearable.  Don’t force anything. Make it a game. Be excited. Let them make and throw a couple of snowballs at you (but don’t throw them back; that just makes you a bully!) And that may be it for the first time out. Maybe half an hour or so. Then go back inside and have a hot chocolate.
  3. Start with toddler skis that strap on to their snow boots with Velcro. Let them wear them in the house and walk around on the carpet. Again, make it a game.
  4. Next take them out to the ski hill and let them walk around on the snow where it is flat so they can get the feel of the skis sliding on the snow.
  5. We recommend using ski toe clips to hold the toes of the skis together in the beginning. Also a harness with a leash, letting them ski ahead of you while you snowplow behind them.  You can also ski next to them holding a ski pole sideways across you and them (let them have the handle) so they can see you and you can provide words of encouragement. You can also let them ski between your legs, but we have seen others slip and fall on their child, so we do not recommend this method.
  6. Start at the bottom of the slops, out of the potential path of other skiers and boarders. Once your feel your child is ready, start on the bunny slope, take it nice and slow, with lots of encouragement, and when you get to the bottom, go in for another hot chocolate. Don’t wear them out; always leave them wanting more!
  7. Next time out, on a very gentle slope, and with the toe clips on the skis, have them put their hands on their knees and slowly ski down the slope. Have them push down on their right knee and they will turn to the left; push down on the left knee and they will turn to the right. Once they do this exercise a few times, most get the hang of it almost immediately and advance very quickly!
  8. Beginners should not have poles, but let them hold the handle of one of your poles and pull them along when walking, help them in and out of their skis, and so on. Take as much of the effort out of it as possible and make it fun for them.
  9. Take lots of pictures and show them later with lots of positive comments. You have one chance to make a first impression; make it a positive one so they want to do it again!
  10. Once your child is potty-trained, you can enroll them in ski school. Most of the hills have very good programs, half-day and full-day, including lessons, games, snacks, lunch, and naps!

So have fun and Think Snow!


George Denise
Owner, The Ski Renter