I know it sounds crazy, but take your one-year-old skiing!
We have two very young boys, Carver is 2 and Bridger is 3 months old. This was our third winter season skiing with our toddler, and he absolutely LOVES it! There's nothing more fun for a young boy than playing in the snow, going FAST, and drinking lots of hot chocolate; and now he is actually a pretty dang good skier too. ;)
I know it sounds super intimidating to think of bringing along your unpotty-trained one year old up to the ski resort to only freeze their butts off and have melt-downs in the cold...right? I totally get that, and I’m not going to pretend it’ll be all sunshine and rainbows, but it is SO much for doable than you’d think. The key is to TAKE IT SLOW, prepare for the worst, and dress WARM.
My husband and I are both ski and snowboard instructors here in Utah so we've taught our fair-share of kiddos and kiddo-esque adults on the snow. We've seen it all... and have a few tricks up our ski jackets when it comes to the LITTLE guys.
It's okay if your ski day only lasts an hour, and the rest of the time you spend in the lodge eating chili fries. We've had SO MANY days like this, and honestly they are some of my favorites! There's nothing better than hanging out with your family in a beautiful place.
Tip #1 - DRESS THE PART
In our family, the #1 killer of a good time outdoors is getting too COLD. It's ruined sledding trips, hiking trips, camping, and swimming more times than I can count which means we are SUPER conscious of how we dress our kids before we go out. It's much easier to shed layers than it is to warm a crying toddler back up and almost every ski resort will have lockers or other places to leave extra clothes that you've had to shed. Anytime you're wearing the dreaded ski boot, the first thing to chill are the toes, and that holds true for the kiddos too. Quality socks will definitely save your bacon! When Carver wore his first pair of ski boots they were WAY too big for him so we ended up layering two pairs of his ski socks to use up a bit of the space inside, this worked fine but when possible try not to layer. Mittens are just as important! and we always choose mittens over gloves.
When you're up at the ski resort, the sun can be INTENSE. Some sort of eye wear for you and the little ones is so important! If we know it's going to be a sunny day we'll just bring Carver's sunglasses, but if there's any wind or falling snow, you'll definitely want goggles. Our local thrift store has them ALL THE TIME and we find them for about $2-$5.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make them wear a helmet! Every resort is full of hooligans that are unpredictable and aren't watching out for the little ones. If you don't have one for your toddler, rentals will have one for you.
Tip #2 - CLIP THOSE TIPS
They go by many names...edgie wedgies, tip clamps, toe clips, and wormies. They're the little clips that screw on to the tips of the skis to keep them from getting too far apart. These things will save your life, and honestly, I would never take any kid under the age of 6 skiing without these for their first time. Heck, we use them on a lot of adults too!
If you're kid is under the age of 3, they don't have the muscle development to hold a wedge shape with their skis for any length of time, which is vital if you don't want to death race to the bottom of the hill. We've all heard it before, pizza and french fries! These are the shapes that they'll make with their skis to control their speed. Pizza, or wedge like we call it, will allow them to control their speed on the hill, slow, and stop their skis. French fries, or parallel, make them go FAST. Know this is important, but if you're skiing with a one-year-old it won't compute, and they don't have the control even try. We keep their toes clipped together so that when they're sliding along, their skis don't drift apart at the toes creating a middle splits move on the snow...ouch!
We put our little guy between our legs and hold on to his shoulders, like this we can basically control his skis. It's important that your able to lift their weight up off their skis at ANY time because when they're so light, their skis catch on any snow imperfection and will cause them to trip. With them between your legs, you're able to wedge and make turns which shows them how the shapes that they make with their skis affects how fast they'll go.
If you're comfortable skiing backwards, my favorite thing to do with my toddler is to straddle his skis over one of mine (his tip clamps will not let them slide further forward than my bindings) and this way we can hold hands and talk. Make sure you're constantly checking over your should though, hooligans are EVERYWHERE!
Tip #3 - SHUFFLE SHUFFLE SHUFFLE
It's important that your kid learns how to move their skis on flat ground to get around. It will save your life if you don't have to push them EVERYWHERE! We like to call it shuffling, and teach Carver to "shuffle shuffle shuffle like a penguin". He loves pretending to be a penguin, and I love not over-exerting myself. Basically, they should be able to keep their skis in contact with the snow while sliding them forward one after the other. Yes, this only really works on FLAT ground. If you're on any kind of incline, they're going nowhere but backwards! To prevent this, we "waddle waddle waddle like a duck"...catching the animal theme here?? ;) To waddle like a duck, you must create a reverse pizza shape with your skis...something that your one-year-old will probably NOT be able to do. Sadly, on an incline you WILL BE pushing your kid up the hill, but it's okay cause you love them. (and you need the frustration crying to end!)
Tip #3 - ON THE CHAIR LIFT
We call it the "flying couch". Getting a little guy onto and off of a chairlift is a lot easier than you'd think, especially when they weight basically nothing. Their shuffling skills are really going to come into play here when they have to shuffle race to the waiting line for the chair. Shuffle shuffle shuffle to the line and when the chair arrives, just pick them up under their arm pits and set them down beside you. It's the same thing when getting off the chair, just pick them up and ski down the ramp with them, no need to fuss with trying to let them hop off themselves.
Tip #3 - TAKE IT SLOW AND LET THEM GUIDE THE DAY
Skiing is a big new experience for a tiny person, and it can be very intimidating. Don't push it. I believe that excessively pushing a new experience on a toddler will do nothing but ruin the situation. Keep your toddler happy, and if they're not then stop. It's okay if your ski day only lasts an hour, and the rest of the time you spend in the lodge eating chili fries. We've had SO MANY days like this, and honestly they are some of my favorites! There's nothing better than hanging out with your family in a beautiful place.
Get them out there and make it fun!