Tips for Teaching a Toddler to Snowshoe

I’m a big fan of teaching toddlers to do things early. Last winter we first strapped cross-country ski’s on our son when he was 17 months old. The only reason we didn’t start him on snowshoes last year was just because we didn’t have any for him to use.

This winter our 2 1/2 year old has had a fun time on both his cross-country skis and snowshoes. Here’s what we’ve learned about teaching a toddler to snowshoe.

Keep It Simple. If we say “Get ready, we’re going snowshoeing” our toddler tends to pout. But, if we say “Let’s go for a hike with our snowshoes on!” he gets excited about it. Weird.

Find An Easy Way To Gear Up.  The most annoying part about snowshoeing with wee ones is putting their snow boots into bindings. We make it easy by setting our kid in the trunk of our SUV to buckle on his snowshoes. This way he’s ready to go before we put on our snowshoes and we don’t have to bend over to deal with straps. I don’t really care if he walks over a bare parking lot in his toddler snowshoes.

Be a Fair-Weather Explorer. If it’s cold and windy forget about it. For a toddler trying to learn a new skill that’s just too much to deal with. We practice in the yard on nice warm days, sometimes we don’t even bother putting our kid into his snowsuit.

Hold A Hand. If the snow isn’t too deep walk side by side and hold hands. This is our kiddo’s preferred method of snowshoeing since I can easily help him up when he falls.

Play Games. Some of our favorites are follow-the-leader and we like to make dinosaur tracks with our snowshoes. We also like to practice hopping, skipping, tromping, running and falling down and getting up.

Ditch The Poles. Little one’s don’t need them and it’s better for their balance to not have poles to lean on.

Ditch Your Expectations. Sometimes we snowshoe for 5 minutes while other times our toddler lasts for over a mile. You never know what you’re going to get. If you don’t lose sight of the parking lot at the trailhead that’s okay. But at the same time, it’s good to have a backup plan if your kiddo makes it pretty far but poops out on the way back. We like the packability of our Piggyback Rider.

Gear. This winter we’ve used the Tubbs Snowflakes snowshoes and we dig ’em. Not too expensive (around 40-bucks) but the quality is still what you’d expect from an awesome brand like Tubbs (we’re not affiliated with Tubbs in any way). We expect that they’ll last through both of our boys. They were a gift from Grandma & Grandpa but I bet a savvy shopper could find a used pair.

Now it’s your turn. What tips do you have for snowshoeing with kids?

And if you missed it, check out the rest of the posts in our ‘how to snowshoe’ series.

* Bonus Content: Should Snowshoeing be an Olympic Sport? 



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