Growing up in Finland spending my childhood playing in the snow has made me fond of winter holidays. We try to go at least once a year for a skiing holiday to make the most of what winter has to offer: snowy landscapes flooded with sun light and getting an adrenaline rush from steep descends on skis.
Many of our friends and acquaintances also went on frequent trips to the Alps until they started a family. After having a baby, however, they decided that skiing holidays were out of the picture. I’m determined to think that this is not us. It’s important to me that our son becomes comfortable in the snow like I have always been and, if he feels up for it, starts to ski in a few years time.
This year in March we travelled to Val D’Isere in France and took our 10-month old baby along. The trip was absolutely fabulous! We picked up several tips on how to enjoy a skiing trip with a baby which I’m sharing below.
1. Book early
It’s not a surprise to anyone that the best accommodation books up quickly but this is even more the case with skiing destinations. Some people start to book as early as one year in advance but a six month lead up should still give you plenty of choice. Booking early also gives you the chance to reserve all the other services that may be important to you like a nanny or kids clubs or acquire all the gear that you will need for your little ones to have a great time in the snow.
2. Choose child friendly accommodation
A chalet style accommodation works very well with children. It’s very helpful to have separate bedrooms for the kids to sleep in the evenings whilst parents can continue their evening cooking and having dinner in the chalet. Ideally it’s great to have a catered chalet which takes the pressure away from cooking and doing groceries. Many of these options offer a kids menu, too.
Other things to check with your accommodation is the ease of access with a pushchair, proximity to ski shuttles if you aren’t within a walking distance from the town centre or ski lifts, as well as other useful safety aspects like stair gates. Booking a place which comes with baby equipment will also save you a lot of hassle. Cots, changing tables and sterilisers are amongst the equipment offered in some but by all means not in all.
We stayed in Chalet Pierre in Val D’Isère which was perfect for what we needed. Nice big bedrooms, spacious living area with lovely views, a large dining area, a private sauna and lots of space to store our things. Our chalet hosts, Chloe and Josh, were great too. So friendly and excellent at hosting.
3. Travel with other families with kids
Skiing is a wonderfully social sport and this aspect comes even more important when you are travelling with children. Having other families around you gives company to the kids and parents alike especially if you are in a chalet and don’t plan to go out for meals.
You will be also able to share some extra costs such as nannies or private transfers helping with the overall holiday budget.
4. Plan ahead for childcare arrangements to get some skiing in
Larger ski resorts have established nanny agencies offering private nannies from English speaking countries. We booked ours through Jelly and Ice-cream although due to unexpected sicknesses they were replaced by two nannies from Little Chicks Childcare. The nannies were great and took the babies and kids out for lunches, played with them in the snow and did various kids of kid friendly activities in Val D’Isere.
5. Know what to pack
Travelling with a baby always comes with a myriad of packing but a skiing holiday comes with its special challenges. A few items which we thought were priceless:
Sunglasses and sun cream – snow reflects the sun like nothing else so to help with squinting and sore eyes it was good that we had baby sunnies for our son (ones with a band to wrap around the head are the best, see ones here). Sun cream is also necessary!
Winter clothing – this includes a snow suit, a warm hat, snow booties, gloves and balaclava. It’s worthwhile checking Ebay for second hand gear because you may not need this clothing for more than a week.
Cold cream – to protect your baby’s delicate skin. I like the one from Mustela.
A pushchair with good wheels – we thought about bringing our lightest Yoyo stroller or just a baby carrier with us but in the end decided to bring our Joolz Day2 base combined with a MaxiCosi car seat. We were very happy with this combination because Yoyo’s wheels would have been too flimsy in the snow and with a baby carrier you risk the chance of injuring your baby if you slip (highly likely on the ice!).
6. Go to a resort with some baby friendly activities
Even though the slopes may be all you need to entertain yourself, your babies will be thankful for being in a resort with some fun baby activities. Val D’Isere had an Aquasportif centre with a lovely swimming pool and a soft play area. There was also had a little farm where the kids could visits goats and a few other farm animals. You don’t need too much but a few activities can take you a long way.
7. Travel later in the season
Avoid school holidays and travel later in the season when the conditions are likely to be less arctic and you have a better chance for sunny days to take your baby out.
8. Consider full end-to-end travel time
Ski resorts don’t tend to be next to airports and transfers can take a long time. Particularly if you are travelling together with a tour operator which organises transfers for large groups. Coaches tend to be the most cost effective way to travel, but be mindful of the time it can take and prepare your baby and yourself mentally for this!
After the holiday I felt like the first step had been accomplished in taking my baby to his Scandinavian roots and making him appreciate wintery climates. I hope this post has also made you more encouraged to take your baby on a skiing holiday!
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