Ski Life With a Baby or Toddler. Is it Possible?

Emma Wilson 13.06.2024

You’re humming along enjoying your ski life then parenthood comes along. How DO you still enjoy skiing with a baby or toddler or is it best to skip a few years and revisit when they’re …10? 

  1. Expectation Management

This is the first step to any new situation. Things HAVE changed and things WILL be different. You will need to make sacrifices and compromises and some of these will feel hugely irritating with feelings of great resistance and fond memories of yesteryore of doing whatever you like. 

  1. The Pain threshold

Anyone with older kids can tell you, there’s a certain threshold of logistics you have to go through to get to the other side of ski parenthood and putting it off just delays the inevitable. It’s no different to teaching your kids to swim, play golf or surf, the earlier you get your kids started in the sport the easier it is for everyone involved. The younger they are, potentially the lighter they are going to be physically , which helps when picking them up, carrying them, helping them stop and turn or holding onto them. And this means less injuries for you. 

  1. What if they don’t enjoy it?

Baby steps! We don’t assume they love surfing or swimming lessons straight away and skiing is no different. Keep your expectations in check, let them get ‘familiar’ with snow, be it snow play with snowballs and a snowman or tobogganing. Yes I know toboggans aren’t allowed in many resorts but pulling a toddler in a toboggan is technically ‘snow dragging’ and not hooning downhill at speed. Maybe it takes 10 snow trips for them to enjoy it. That-is-okayyy.

  1. How do I still ski or snowboard as a new parent?

You have options. The first part is to be realistic. There’s a temporary stop to your ‘first to last lift’ snow habit but if you put the work in these next couple of years you’ll have a little buddy by your side to do first-to-last lifts within no time. I promise you, you will look back and say – gosh those years went quickly, even if right now it feels like forever. Especially on a powder day. 

  1. Tag team  – if you’re on a ski trip with other adults / older teenagers take turns enjoying your skiing/ snowboarding while the other person stays with or organises the toddler. See it as a ‘session’. Not all resorts cater to babies or toddlers, some have a creche or toddler program, for others it’s a snow play day with your tag-team so I’ll list a few options available here. 


Thredbo has private one hour lessons for ages 2 and up and a range of kids lessons for ages 3 and up including Thredboland and seasonal programs based out of ‘Friday Flats’ dedicated beginner area. Perisher has three and five day adventure programs and half day lessons for 3 and up and has multiple magic carpets at the base of Perisher as well as Smiggins. Falls Creek has a beginner-friendly zone in the Drovers area and a beginner-friendly zone and a Snow club for age 3 and up and actively encourage toboggan action

 Hotham has Mighty Mites lessons from age 3 and up on a brand new dedicated beginner area with a very cool backstory. Mt Buller’s  (ski only) Bunyips program starts from age 3. Mt Buller has a dedicated area (the Magic Forest with 3 carpets, snowmaking and shelter from the main run in amongst the snow gums) and it is ski only for this age group. Lessons are available for teeny snowboarders but as privates only including toddlers. They can be booked for as little as one hour and every increment between 2, 3, 4 – 7 hours. Ideal for tiny skiers and boarders or for a small or family group of little ones. 

This is not as exhaustive list of resorts obviously and just a guide. Check each resort’s pricing, as often resorts have under 5s ski free.

Under 2s & giving toddlers a tiny taster for a couple of runs…

If you insist on handling this ski familiarisation session yourself, let them shuffle around for a while on flat snowy ground with skis and boots on. This gets them used to the sensation and the extra weight. This may be enough. They do not need poles but need gloves and a helmet. Next week we have an article about how to dress kids for the snow (and why). Stay tuned. 

If they are sturdy on their feet, find the magic carpet (for newbies it’s that upwards conveyor belt on the ground) and be patient with them as they learn to slide on a slight downhill gradient on snow. There are options to use an edgy-wedgy on the front of their skis, a ski harness, you can hold them gently inside your own skis or guide them gently on foot (apres ski boots). Beware, this kind of self-taught kid-wrangling puts tremendous strain on your knees, back and shoulders depending on how capable you are and how light your child is. Expect them to go up and down the magic carpet twice and be EXHAUSTED and prepare to call it a day at this point. 

This is hard work for both of you, they are stimulated, potentially over-stimulated. If they stack, make it a game, call ‘pancake’ when they splat on the ground. Make it a short and sweet session, laugh together, don’t punish them  – I’d like to see you try something new! It’s HARD.

Note – many magic carpet areas are free to use but check with your resort, some charge a fee or need a pass to use it. 

Once in a while you get that kid, you know the one who does two laps of the magic carpet with you holding them then takes to skiing by themself  like a duck to water and you can’t get them off the thing. Well done to them! 

Remember the pain threshold of ski parenthood? It’s largely emotional, not physical. Just because they can lap the magic carpet, hockey stop and make turns does NOT mean the next step is to take them to the top of the mountain with your mates. Take things slowly so you don’t scar them for life. The name of the game is FUN. If they cry all the way home because they love skiing so much that’s a better problem to have than crying from fear or dread.

The Pram is your Mecca

Don’t forget your pram, you think you don’t need it but you will – even up to age 4 or 5 . They will be so tired they will sleep or want to chill. Bring healthy snacks (chop up veggies, sultanas, fruit, water and cut up sandwiches) because the snow environment is sugar-filled and is not good for tired little people. Put a change of clothes in your pram bag, books, an ipad (if you’re a believer), a rug and a muslim cover for pram wind cover. Find a cafe when they’re finished lapping the magic carpet or playing in the snow and chill out. 

Snowman Time

Remember that old pearler – you won’t wish you spent more time in the office on your deathbed? Get down on your knees in the snow and build a snowman together. Have a snowball fight, have fun and remember this moment won’t last forever. Rental Stores and snow resort shops often sell a long plastic tong-like device that makes perfect snowballs. It is the best money you’ll ever spend. Build a wall of snowballs or an amazing design, those snowball tongs are addictive!

Ski School

Depending whether your baby or toddler is good at separation, ski school is always a terrific option. Not all kids take to it but it’s worth a try, enquire whether the snow resort has morning only sessions or half day option. And if not and you can afford to – put them in for a full day, get out on the snow for a few turns yourself and call the creche/ ski school a couple of times to see how they’re going. Staff are experts after all and there are plenty of distractions  – brightly coloured play equipment, hot chocolate and new friends. You can always pick them up early and try again next time.

Keep your eye out for more specifics about babies and toddlers for rental equipment

plane travel,  plane seating, time zones , plane snacks, shuttle buses, transfers, rental cars and other logistics. 
Head to Spotify or iTunes to listen to long haul plane travel with babies and toddlers and other family topics on the Loving the Snowlife podcast. It also has tips for first timers, how to carry skis, how to pack, holidays with kids logistics, single parent trips and much more.