Taking a baby skiing? It seems very daunting, the prospect of adding a baby into the mix on one of your favourite activity holidays. But it can definitely be done! Here at Ski Magic we’ve looked after lots of ski babies and have compiled some ideas on how to make it happen, step by step….
The Ski Magic Guide to taking your baby skiing
First things first: This is going to be easier than you think!
In fact, babies can make charming travel companions, and taking a baby skiing is no exception. It may sound like a mad enterprise but there are ways and means to make your first ski holiday with a baby smooth and (mostly) hassle-free if you do your research and make sure you’re organised.
When to go?
If you’re worried about cold January weather, then perhaps its best travel in March or April when the weather will be warmer: great for walks with your little one and making the most of the fresh mountain air! Christmas is also a magical time to be in the mountains, with all the twinkly lights around the resort: ideal if you’re looking at a 3G family holiday with grandparents.
Where to go?
Skiing in Europe is the obvious choice if you’re coming from the UK. Not only is the skiing amazing, but importantly, the travel times aren’t too daunting with a small person in tow. Also it doesn’t experience such harsh winters as eg. Canada.
Of course we would say this, but La Tania should be at the top of your list of potential resorts. Here’s why:
1) It’s a pretty and pedestrianised village – not too large, not too small
2) It’s part of a huge ski area (the Three Valleys)
3) There’s lovely, gentle sledging at the base of the slopes
4) It’s easy to get around on foot and using the free buses
4) Using the lifts it’s easy for whoever is on baby duty to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch
And it’s not just us that thinks so. We Love 2 Ski’s Felice Hardy says:
“La Tania is the near perfect destination for families and, with an unusually large choice of around a dozen ski schools for such a small resort, is one of our top ten places to learn. It is car-free and just about every property is ski-in, ski-out.”
How to get there?
If you’re nervous of taking a baby on a plane then consider the train: being able to walk around is a great advantage! Driving from the UK gives you the freedom of being able to take a break whenever you need to, perhaps even planning an overnight stop or two during the journey to make a road trip of it.
Taking a baby on a plane
Travelling on a plane with tiny people is not as horrendous as it sounds. In our experience, airline staff are generally very kind to people with little children. Younger babies will love the opportunity to be sitting on your lap for an hour or so, and if you can time your flight for nap time then a quick feed and the hum of the engines make perfect conditions for a doze!
For older babies (the wrigglier ones), it’s worth popping some distractions into your changing bag, but think carefully about what to take – anything with small parts that will drop onto the floor are a real nuisance! A brilliant idea is to take a piece of cord and thread or tie smaller toys onto it – ones with lights (not sounds!), buttons, switches etc. – something that is easy to keep on your lap and be interesting for more than 2 seconds, eg. a bottle with a screwcap, something with a zip, even your own cardigan with buttons… Think creatively! And for when all else fails, always have a stash snacks…
Airlines generally allow car seats and buggies to be checked in through excess baggage (on top of your baggage allowance) which is really useful, but if you think that you’re going to find it difficult to manage a long walk carrying your baby on your hip then you can usually take a buggy or backpack carrier to the gate with you. This is also a great way of keeping all your bits and bobs together!
Ski Magic transfers can provide age-appropriate car seats for the transfer, just let us know in advance. Click here for transfer times.
Top tip no. 1: Don’t wear warm clothes and be prepared to get hot and sweaty (especially if you end up buying a bottle of gin in the duty free that you’ll have to carry as well as your baby!)
Top tip no. 2: Some airlines will allow you to board the plane in front of everyone else. Don’t! Minimise the time you have to be strapped down and wait for everyone else to get on first. That way the plane will be ready to leave not long after you’ve sat down.
Top tip no. 3: Laugh. It’s probably not going to be the most enjoyable of journeys, but when you look back, it’s only a very short period of the holiday – grit your teeth and giggle on through!
Where to stay?
A catered chalet is by far your easiest option if you’re travelling with a baby. Not only is your food prepared and cooked for you, but your little one can have their own tea-time earlier and go to bed before you relax and unwind with the grown-ups and enjoy the experience of having someone cook and wash up for you!
If you’re travelling with family then it’s easy to swap so that you all get to spend some time on the mountain, doing what you love!
If you’d like to, Ski Magic offer full or half day childcare so that you can enjoy a few precious hours on the slopes without worrying about your little one.
We also provide lunch if required, so that you can rest assured they’ll be well fed sensible meals to keep those all-important energy levels up!
Our nannies are qualified childcare practitioners and we adhere to strict UK child:carer ratios. The childcare team visit the chalets on arrival day to meet the children and discuss your requirements.
The movable service accommodates children within the chalet environment; our nannies will bring play equipment to whichever chalet has most children. We’ll organise a programme of indoor and outdoor play, taking the ages of the children into consideration. Activities could include: snowman building, sledging, piste picnics, treasure hunts, baking, face painting, model making, bubble ride and trip to the soft play centre on the local bus. We also have loads of arts and crafts equipment!
What to pack?
Remember those days when you chucked a toothbrush and some clean pants in a suitcase and off you went? This is a WHOLE different board game… (And it’s the reason that some guests prefer to drive: no baggage allowance!) But it’s not unachievable, and doubtless you’re already used to carrying kilos of ‘stuff’ whenever you leave the house.
Here’s the link for a general ‘what to pack’ list for anyone going on a ski holiday.
Here’s what else you’ll need for travelling with a baby:
Milk – if your baby is bottle fed then you can purchase formula from the local supermarket but bear in mind that it may not be the same brand as you usually buy.
Bottles –steriliser in the chalets??
Nappies and wipes – again, these can be purchased at the local supermarket but possibly not the same brands or as cheap as you would usually buy. You could use cotton wool and water though.
A warm suit – we’d heartily recommend the Columbia Snuggly Bunny Bunting suit which has a long zip which makes it easier to get your baby in and out, and fold over hands and feet which are SO MUCH easier than struggling with gloves and bootees!
Something to carry your baby: a backpack carrier gives you freedom to go up on the lifts and take walks around the village. If you don’t have one, hire one. Some of the local shops have them available or you can hire from this brilliant local service: www.holidaybabyhire.com and they’ll be delivered to your chalet.
Things to protect your baby from the sun: suncream, hats, sunglasses – bring it all! The combination of sunshine and reflective snow can be vicious for grown up skin, let alone for babies!
Favourite books/toys/comforters. But you only need the absolute favourites, we can happily provide a few toys to keep your little one entertained in the chalet.
Your baby’s usual paracetamol, just in case (and probably some for you too!)
Important to remember:
Keep your baby hydrated – the mountain air is dry so can mean that your baby is more susceptible to snuffles.
If your bedroom is too hot then put a vessel of water on your radiator or in corner which will help humidify the room.
It’s great for babies to be outside in the fresh air, just ensure that you cover your baby when out and about: sunshine and/or cold air can damage their skin.