At Smugglers’ Notch Resort, the Treasures nursery caregivers dress a lot of little ones for outdoor play over the course of the winter season! In addition to enjoying snowy playtime outdoors, children as young as 2 ½ can learn how to ski in the nursery’s introductory program with a dedicated 20-foot conveyor lift and small slope. For winter-loving parents who are eager to introduce their young children to skiing, Treasures director Shelly Schaffer offers words of wisdom as well as clothing tips.
Preparation. It’s beneficial to talk about the concept of skiing well before your ski vacation. Take out ski equipment and allow young children to play with it. Read books or show videos about skiing and other winter sports. Before a ski vacation, children should be familiar and comfortable with winter clothes and gear, so it’s good to have kids dress up in their winter clothing and practice putting on mittens and hats. Parents of young children know that each day brings different challenges. Some familiarity with this new undertaking will help ease the way for your little skier.
Choose cozy layers for comfort and warmth. Stay away from pure cotton for underlayers; consider a cotton/polyester blend long sleeved shirt topped with a fleece or a wool blend sweater.
B is for balaclava … and bibs. While a knit hat offers warmth for snow play, when skiing, a thin microfleece balaclava covers the head, ear and neck and fits well under a helmet. Bibs are better than pants at preventing snow from creeping inside. Make sure the bottoms of bibs are wide enough to fit over top of the ski boot.
Mittens must be user-friendly. Those that Velcro half way up the hand, slide on with ease and are long enough to cover the wrist are great. Putting mittens on before the jacket will help keep the mitten in place. If you purchase long mittens make sure that they stretch over the jacket. The mitten should be waterproof. Avoid gloves … it takes a lifetime to get their little fingers in the right holes!
No bunching or scrunching with socks. Dress little feet in long non-cotton socks that cover the entire calf and fit well so that nothing bunches under the ski boot. A wool blend is best for warmth and wicking.
Top with a wind and waterproof jacket to ensure warmth. Now your child is dressed and ready!
A few final thoughts for parents …
Patience, patience! When signing up your child for ski school or working with your child following formal ski instruction, keep your expectations realistic, be extremely patient and use small words and phrases to describe skiing fundamentals. Children need to feel safe at all times and know that you are totally focused on them. For that reason, once your child is on skis, allow them to glide no more than a few feet at a time while you make sure they always are perfectly visible. Early introductions to skiing should be no more that 1/2 hour to one hour for toddlers.
Once the experience is over, continue to talk about it in a positive manner. Celebrate your child’s achievement and make a big deal about how proud you are of them for learning to ski!
In this short video, Treasures director Shelly Schaffer and the center’s young skiers chat about dressing for snowy fun!
Looking for more tips for children? Take a look at The power of play: Three fun ways to prep kids for skiing & riding