Surprisingly, the hard part for us wasn’t the tender age of our toddlers (Andrew and Erika were 2.5 y.o. when they started skiing) but packing, squeezing in the car, and 40 minutes later repeating it all in reverse order on the way to the ski lodge. Tips, challenges, costs, and our experience about skiing with toddlers in Washington and in the US generally in the post below. Enjoy! 🙂
In the picture below: after the 1st trip, I was secretly wishing for the “good ski weather” to not happen the following weekend 😀
An average ski season in Washington lasts from late December till late April.
Getting Started Skiing With Toddler, Washington
Skiing with Andrew (2.5 y.o.) was not difficult. We deliberately didn’t put any pressure like “let’s try, it is so cool!” until he started asking for it. He watched his siblings skiing and soon was ready to try the stiff ski boots himself.
He adjusted pretty quickly: could walk in the boots, play, run. Next step: skis. Only one ski at first, then both. The “magic carpet” lift was next:
Going down a green (entry-level) slope with a harness would have come next, but… it didn’t happen, not a single time. Erika was already skiing the greens at his age with a ski harness:
One of the first tries, she is very excited:
The downside of being the third child: we had almost no energy to teach Andrew, so most of the time he was having fun just playing in the snow:
We see plenty of toddlers skiing/snowboarding at this age every season. It is very eye-pleasing :). What I adore more, is watching older people (in the 70s-80s) making elegant turns and it isn’t rare – skiing better than us.
Skiing with a toddler in Washington. Costs and tips on how to save some money
Skiing gear is expensive. Kid’s gear is even more expensive since you have to transition to larger sizes every other year. Also, the very little ones will never ski the full term, so you are paying a premium for the gear that will hardly see any use.
In Washington state, we discovered a ski swap – a huge sale with thousands of items, both old and new in the middle of the Fall – to be a great money and TIME saver when it comes to buying ski gear for any age. Toddler skis cost $99 (barely used) and boots $89 (new). We did not see any used toddler boots, but I guess they disappeared very early in the day as these are always in high demand:
For comparison, a set of skis, boots, and a helmet for a child would cost $30 to rent. Depending on how often/much you plan to take your kiddo skiing, it may make more sense to rent. On the other hand, when you buy used gear, you can sell it at a slightly lower price and get most of your original investment back.
A day lift ticket for a child up to 6 y.o at our closest ski resort in Washington costs $15 (even for the magic carpet lift). A season pass runs $80 for the whole season. Other, more advanced resorts in WA don’t charge for kids up to 12 y.o, but then adult tickets and passes are much more expensive.
Erika (4 y.o.) and her friend Alice loading on a magic carpet. Tickets are required even for this small area at Summit at Snoqualmie:
Why Would you Ski with a Toddler?!
Is this real skiing? Do they like it? – It depends on the child.
It is more about trying, exploring, and preparing for the real adventure in a year or so.
Why Would you Ski with a Toddler?! – we do it for fun. Like going with the entire family to the swimming pool twice a week, biking, or camping with friends, skiing makes us happier as a family (and healthier).
We also like to ski with toddlers because smaller kids tend to be more fearless and immune to falls and speed:
How did we start to ski with a toddler? In our family, skiing with a toddler started with our first child, Artem: he hated daycare at the ski resort, and the only way to continue skiing for us was to take him to the slope. On his first trip, he loved it a lot, but
you would never guess, it was mostly because of his best friend.
Two Personal Tips
Tip 1. Find a ski buddy for your child. Learning together is way more fun. Ski buddies with previous experience are a huge benefit and get double points!
Below, Artem with his best buddy Sasha in Whistler, Canada. The boys spend 4 ski seasons together before they turned 7 (then, we moved to WA):
Tip 2. Hiring a professional ski instructor even a couple of times can speed up the teaching process dramatically. Often, a single session with an instructor can give more, than a whole season learning with a parent.
You can ski with a toddler and have fun at the same time. Especially with an only child :). Planning your trips is still everything: nap schedule, food, proper gear, toys, and treats, extra gloves, etc.
Speaking about nap time. Once, when Andrew dropped a pencil, it took me a while to realize he was still under the table, napping!
Last year (2019), Andrew got a sense of adventure. Now, at 3.5 y.o., he is a bit more prepared for the “real” skiing. We are looking forward to this ski season as a turning point: we will finally be able to ski altogether and not take turns.
I love skiing for crispy air, sun, people in a great mood all around, speed, and the sights. Here, up in the Washington mountains, it is a true winter wonderland:
Come to see the Washington mountains and ski slopes!