Small babies on summer holidays can sit and gurgle for hours in their buggy wearing simply a nappy and watching the world go by or playing happily in the sand under a sun shade! The mountains are a whole different ball game and it’s vital to take the cold seriously when taking the younger members of the family on a ski holiday. From weather conditions to childcare, there are many issues that need to be taken into account to make sure that every member of the family is happy and safe on their ski holiday.
From now on it won't just be the two of you, but rather the three of you going on your next ski holidays.The first ski holiday with a new baby requires some careful planning - we're talking about starting 4-5 months before you plan on going. It takes time to find not only the perfect ski resort, but also a family-friendly hotel, appropriate winter clothing and other supplies for the baby.
As adult skiers, we might notice we’re a little out of breath after walking up a short hill carrying skis, or that we wake often during the night gasping for a glass of water… These issues are extremely important to take into consideration when travelling to the mountains with very young children.
• The air is much drier in the mountains, so baby will get dehydrated quickly and will need more fluids than usual.
• Don’t be surprised if your baby’s sleep pattern changes – this can be radical sometimes!
• It’s better to choose a low resort (a lot have access to high skiing) because the high altitudes can cause headaches due to the lack of oxygen.
• If you decide to take baby to a mountain restaurant, choose the lowest one because the fast altitude change in a cable car will leave baby feeling dizzy and uncomfortable (making a not very fun lunch partner!).
Planning joint ski holidays with another young family can relieve some of the pressure. The four parents can take turns with childcare, so everyone can get more time on the slopes (this doesn't mean just offloading your kids to the other parents though!). Another option is to invite Gran and Gramps, who are always happy for some quality time with their adorable grandchildren!
Any skier knows that the packing list for ski holidays is a long one! Once you’ve travelled to the mountains with very young kids, you’ll have reached the summit of packing lists! From feeding equipment to sleeping and getting around needs, the list can seem endless!
Unless you are travelling by car and have a large trailer, it is almost impossible to bring all baby’s things while leaving room for the rest of the family! We highly recommend choosing accommodation where baby kits are either supplied free in your package or are available to rent. What you’ll need:
• Cot or travel cot
• Bottles, sterilizer, milk (this is when breastfeeding comes into its own!)
• Cooking and eating equipment
• High chair
• Buggy (a jogger style buggy with large single wheels)
• Baby carrier/backpack
A short note on getting baby around in your ski resort: Depending on where you choose to stay, buggies can be more of a hindrance than a help! If you’re in a low resort where there isn’t often a lot of snow, then buggies are fine but if you’re in a higher or pedestrian resort where snow isn’t cleared from the resort centre, then either choose a jogger style buggy with larger, wide, single wheels or forget the buggy and opt for a baby carrier or backpack. If you do decide to bring a buggy, then make sure you have a thick footmuff – baby is immobile and often asleep in his/her buggy so warm protection is essential. Sheepskin footmuffs are particularly good for keeping baby tucked up warm. Of course, another option is to bring a pram with skis attached...
Top tip: If you’re planning on being outside a lot with baby, then bring some special ski sun cream adapted for baby's ski and sunglasses with an elastic strap – don’t buy cheap ones – the sun will harm baby’s eyes even more through cheap lenses!
Babies are well known for their lack of appreciation of long journeys! The options are plane, train, coach, car or a combination of the four.
Flying is generally the quickest option most flights will be under 2 hours. However, you will have a limited luggage allowance so if choosing this option, it’s essential to be well organized and pre-book a baby kit at your accommodation. It’s important to think about the transfer from the airport to your resort – are you happy to hold your baby on your lap on a coach for a couple of hours? If you plan to take a taxi, book in advance to be sure you get a taxi with a baby seat – there are now many companies that offer online bookings of this kind.
Driving is the simplest and most comfortable option. You’ll have more space to pack baby’s accessories and you can stop when you like. If possible, take the tunnel and drive overnight – if you’re lucky, baby might just sleep right through!
Top tip: If you’re driving to France and you do have a little space left, bring nappies with you – they can be 3 times the price in France!
Taking the train is not the best option unless you have a baby that will sleep or sit still on your lap all day!! If you have one, can you please let us know what your secret is!! Kids under 2 don’t get their own seat and the journeys are long! Lots of luggage, babies and trains are generally not a good combination – so save this option for when the kids are older and they can entertain themselves with books and games and enjoy the stunning countryside!
It’s extremely important to realize that on ski holidays babies can’t just tag along like they do on most family holidays! Plans and choices need to be discussed well in advance of booking to make sure EVERYONE enjoys his or her ski holiday! The choice is simple! Either one parent stays with the baby each day or you organize child care. Many holiday companies offer baby care options when booking accommodation from 3 months old and some even individual nanny services. The other option is the ski resorts own childcare facilities which can be excellent and for older babies, can offer then the chance to socialize! You really need to shop around and find what suits your needs, tastes and of course, budget – sometimes it would work out less expensive if baby actually skied!
Being lucky enough to have parents who were crazy about skiing, my love for the mountains started when I was 4 years old on our first family ski holiday to Austrian ski resort of Obergurl. One ski holiday a year was never enough and tears rolled down my face as I looked out the back window of the car on the drive down the valley on the way home!
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