How To Teach a Toddler to XC Ski

This is the final post of our Cross-Country ski series for the winter. I like to think that we saved the best topic for last. It’s also a topic that probably applies to just a few of our readers. Today’s post is about teaching a toddler to ski.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of wearing my red and white polar bear ski’s inside of my parents house and moving awkwardly on ski’s across the backyard. I’d even take them outside in the summer and try to ski on grass. My ski’s were one of my favorite “toys”–in fact I loved them so much that I autographed the white bases in permanent marker once I learned how to write my name.

Since we love to cross-country ski it seemed natural to put our toddler on ski’s this winter. He mastered walking and running early this fall and my theory on skiing is if you can walk, you can ski.

While I’m working on an e-book about teaching toddler’s to ski, it’s not quite done yet. So, today’s post is a sneak peak for a book which we expect to publish at the beginning of next winter.

When it comes to teaching a toddler to ski there are 3 steps that can occur concurrently or sequentially. They are:

1. Encouraging “indoor play” on skis.

2. Encouraging independent skiing in the backyard or at a local park.

3. Taking your toddler out on the trails skiing.

Step 1. Encouraging “indoor play” on skis. In our house, our toddler’s skis have a place of honor right by his bins of trucks, books and puzzles. When he wants to “practice” skiing our toddler will bring us his skis, we’ll strap them to his feet and let him wander around the house. This is important because it allows him to get familiar with having ski’s strapped to his feet in a comfortable environment without wearing bulky outdoor clothing.

Step 2. Encouraging independent skiing in the backyard or at a local park. On warm, sunny days we like to head to our neighborhood park to ski. We also like to go out on days where there are just a few inches of snow on the ground to make it easier for our toddler to ski. Since I’m not a fan of any beginning skier (adults included) using poles, it’s just fun to let our toddler wander around the park and watch him figure out his balance. Sometimes he likes to hold our hand as we walk alongside behind him. Other times he wants to be entirely independent and even refuses help up after a fall. Impromptu backyard or park skiing has helped build our toddlers confidence.

Step 3. Taking your toddler out on the trails skiing. Our kiddo has the fortunate (or unfortunate) luck of being born into a ski family. That means that when we hit the trails, he has no choice but to tag along. When we feel like skiing we simply bundle him up and toss him and his ski’s into our Chariot Cheetah and hit the trails. It doesn’t matter if we’re cruising on groomed trails or breaking track through a foot of powder, we always try to stop every once in a while to release him from his beloved ski trailer and let him ski. Sometimes he skis for just a minute, sometimes longer than we expect and sometimes it feels like we spend more time getting him and out of his skis and Chariot than actually skiing. It’s not always sunshine and cookies, we’ve had ski adventures that have ended in missing snow boots, diaper blowouts and epic tears but at the end of the day it’s always worth it.

I could go on forever (seriously) about how to dress a toddler for skiing, games we play on skis, the importance of starting a child out early rather than waiting until they are old enough for “real” ski lessons and where to find ski’s for a toddler. But, those are topics that will all be covered next winter.

Until then remember, a toddler than can walk is a toddler that can ski!

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