Tips for Skiing with Kids for the First Time

A young girl wearing snow gear stands on skis smiling while learning to ski at Copper Mountain.
Photo Courtesy: Lisa May

Use our tips for skiing with kids to add some fun to the long winter months! Winter is a wonderful season packed with family-friendly adventures and this includes soaring down slopes with your kids. But how old should children be to ski? Across Europe, active kids start learning as young as three years old! It all depends on your child’s individual needs, but many ski schools accept kids over three or four. If you’ve never been skiing with kids, though, beginning the process can seem intimidating! Luckily, there are a lot of parents willing to provide guidance. Next time you’re considering taking a ski trip with your little ones, check out these Tips For Skiing With Kids For The First Time. Regardless of your child’s age, we’re here to give you advice before you book your first family ski trip. Everything will go smoother if you keep these tips in mind!

Talk About the Trip

Three skiers wearing bright pink helments and goggles go skiing in Vail.
Photo Courtesy: Becky Leahy

Get kids excited about skiing well in advance of your vacation! Talking about your upcoming trip is an important part of getting kids comfortable with skiing. This can range anywhere from giving them a little background on the area you’ll be headed to or just giving them a chance to help plan your family’s itinerary. Ask them what kind of ski vacation they want to have! Listening to their input can help you gauge what kind of vacation your entire family will best enjoy. Once you’ve decided, turn your attention toward your actual trip. Tell them about your prior experiences, show them photos and videos, and let them know what to realistically expect. If you have ski gear, make sure to have them try everything on at home so they can get comfortable with it, and also so you can make sure you don’t buy anything that doesn’t fit well.

Gather Your Family Ski Gear

One adult and two child skiers look down the slope at Squadron.
Photo Courtesy: Elizabeth Weinstein

Remember to bring all your kid’s gear with you on your trip! Though some parents prefer renting essentials such as helmets or goggles on-site, there are some items you’ll need to bring from home. First, start with your basic underlayers, such as thermals, socks, and fleeces. You’ll also need to invest in a quality pair of gloves, a balaclava, and a jacket, though which kind will depend on what climate you’re heading to. Parents with younger skiers often prefer to invest in a three-in-one jacket or with a shell and insulation, which allows you better temperature control. If you’re planning to ski multiple years in a row, you can even buy pants or snowsuits that grow with your children, like options from Obermeyer. And just because you’re heading to the mountains doesn’t mean you won’t need sun protection. Bring sunscreen!

RELATED: Ultimate Guide To Ski Gear For Kids

Find a Kid-Friendly Resort

Suvretta House Ski School at St. Moritz, featuring a snowy mountain and several skiers in the distance. Finding a kid-friendly resort is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Finding a kid-friendly resort is one of the most important tips for skiing with kids for the first time! Whether in Colorado, Lake Tahoe, or NYC, plenty of ski resorts cater to children. Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont is a favorite for U.S families with younger kids, while those traveling to Europe love Kinderhotels. Plus, many ski resorts also provide free skiing for children, so remember to consult your hotel’s website! From kids’ clubs to accessibility to the mountain, the more the resort offers families, the easier it will be for you to enjoy yourselves. Consider everything from distance to home, the parking situation, and the number of green trails available for beginners. If kids want to learn for the first time, the resort should definitely have a ski school and activities for non-skiers. Lastly, if your kids are very young, you may want to find a place with childcare.

RELATED: Best Ski-In/Ski-Out Resorts in the U.S. For Families

Prepare Before the First Day

A dad wearing large ski goggles holds his toddler son, ready to ski at Vail. Preparing before your trip is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Citlalli Halovanic

Don’t assume you’ll be getting to the resort and jumping right into the action, especially with little ones! Prepare for an adjustment period before you actually ski with your kids, whether it’s to get to know your accommodations or finalize any last-minute itinerary changes. If you won’t be bringing their ski gear with you, grab your rental equipment or any other essential ski items for kids you may need the day before you hit the slopes. (Try morning to beat the crowds!) If your little ones are eager to get a taste of the action, have them practice walking in their boots and skis. Scope out the area if you want to! If your kids are hesitant to jump into skiing right away, take them out to play in the snow or watch lessons that are being held the day before you take them out skiing to alleviate any worries.

Sign Up for Lessons

Left Image: A young boy wearing a dark snowsuit looks down at his skis. Right Image: A ski instructor stands behind two young kids on snowboards. Considering ski lessons is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Christina Carbone Massotti

One benefit of family-friendly ski resorts is accessing top-rate ski lessons. Depending on where you stay, you’ll likely have access to a ski camp with specialized lessons for children. Depending on their age, you can choose between group and private lessons. Younger children will probably be happier in a group. Still, a short private lesson may be beneficial for tiny first-time skiers to build stamina before enrolling in a half or full-day program. Work your way up to longer sessions! We highly believe it’s worth the investment to get a few half-day lessons from a professional instructor to teach them the basics. Just remember to reserve both private or group classes in advance before you get to the resort. (And ensure there are no changes based on holiday weekends or school vacations!) This is definitely one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time. 

RELATED: Best Ski Resorts Near NYC For Families (All Under 3 Hours)

Teach Kids to Ski by Yourself

A dad holds his young child using a learn to ski harness.
Photo Courtesy: Launch Pad Store

Parents can teach kids to ski instead of enrolling them in class or camp. This option is especially appealing for youngsters who aren’t quite ready to properly stop, control their speed, or turn. If you have kids between two and four, introduce them to skiing by using a kid-friendly ski harness, which buckles to their body to ensure parents have a firm grip. That way, you’ll be able to ski smoothly with your child in front of you! Though it’s not recommended for runs that are crowded, this is a great option for parents who are experienced skiers with a good sense of balance. Or, for kids older than five, parents can also invest in an Edgie Wedgie, an easy-to-use clip that attaches to the end of their skis to keep them together. If your kids get bored, lure them to the nearby slopes that allow sledding or snow tubing!

Pack for All Situations

Left image: a photo of two pairs of skis (adult and child) up against a Christmas tree. Right image: a photo of a young girl skiing in a pink helmet and red jacket. Packing for al situations is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Lisa May

Packing for all situations when you’re skiing with kids can apply to both before and during your trip. Of course, you’ll want to pack your suitcase with anything you’ll need for a family trip. This is an important part of the planning stage. But the packing doesn’t end once you’re actually on the slopes. Remember to pack a bag with snacks, supplies, or water to have on hand during your trip. Filling but portable snacks such as nuts and granola bars are a great idea to keep little ones happy throughout the day. Pack another bag with essentials like a first aid kit, tissues, and sunscreen for their faces. It’s also a good idea to have regular boots so everyone isn’t stuck in ski boots all day, especially if you anticipate any long walks to and from the slopes. Remember to check the temperatures of where you’ll be staying!

RELATED: Best Ski-In/Ski-Out Resorts In Colorado For Families

Dress for Comfort and Safety

Dressing appropriately during your family ski trip guarantees you’ll have a great time. Though every family is different, there are a few universal ski items you should ensure you have during your vacation with kids. You want your kids to be safe while skiing, so goggles and a well-fitting helmet are a must. Thick socks, thermal underlayers, and a hefty jacket are also integral to keeping them warm in colder temperatures. A warm balaclava would also be helpful to keep their faces covered during colder days. Don’t go overboard, though! Overdressing your kids can be just as much of a problem as under-dressing them, so make sure to have them dress in layers as you would yourself. You’ll also want them to have well-insulated and waterproof mittens that don’t leave their wrists out in the cold. Hand warmers are always a good idea to keep them feeling toasty!

Take Breaks Often

Left Image: Two kids eat a snack on-mountain from Waffle Cabin. Right Image: A young boy sits next to a red snow tube on the snow. Taking breaks is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Rotem

Factor in time for a few family breaks! Skiing takes a lot of energy and it will be cold, so try not to worry about deviating too much off schedule if your little ones are tired. Plus, if you push your kids too hard, you will definitely hear a lot of complaining! Prepare for this in advance by scheduling lots of breaks and not expecting them to last the whole day. Luckily, if you’re staying at a ski resort that offers a ton of amenities for kids, you’ll have plenty of other options to fill your time. Take them in for hot chocolate, relax for a little back in your room, or schedule in playtime to build a snowman. Regardless of what you do, just have some unstructured fun! You want them to love skiing but you don’t need them to perfect their skills on the first trip. 

RELATED: The 11 Best Small Ski Resorts in Colorado for Families (Affordable Too!)

Don’t Stress Too Much!

Two parents holding their young toddler stand in the snow at Steamboat. Enjoying time as a family is one of the best tips for skiing with kids for the first time.
Photo Courtesy: Lenore Parr

One of our biggest tips for skiing with kids for the first time is to de-stress and simply enjoy the moment! If things don’t go exactly as planned, that’s okay. Consider your first ski trip with the family to be an introduction and don’t expect too much from it. Any deviations from your itinerary should be treated as a new adventure, not a hindrance to your trip. If there’s something you wanted to do but couldn’t fit in, for example, plan to do it next time! After all, the goal is to get the kids out on the slopes and feeling comfortable so that when you visit again, they’ll be ready to take on more challenges. Invest in professional lessons and make the trip fun by including other activities like snow tubing, s’mores, and ice skating when available. In no time at all, you’ll be skiing together as a family! 

Happy Skiing!

A young boy wearing a large yellow coat skis on a trail at Shawnee Resort.
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Donnelly

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Tips For Skiing With Kids For The First Time by our top contributor Sonia Kaur Kandhari! Alongside bonding together, skiing is a great way to get active as a family and enjoy everything wintertime has to offer little ones. Whether you’ll be spending your ski season at nearby slopes or traveling to world-class ski resorts, we hope you enjoy your time with your children! 

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.