6 Winter Sports to Try with Your Toddler

Get outside and active with your toddler this winter.

Temperatures may be falling, but that doesn't mean you have to keep your toddler cooped up in the house all winter long. Winter sports are a great way to take advantage of the cold and snowy season, and there's no reason why your toddler can't participate in many of these fun activities. So, get outside and get active with your little one. You can start with these six sports. 

Ice Skating

Once your child can walk, there’s no reason to keep her off the ice, though she may not be ready for ice skating lessons. Stick with regular skates – don’t bother with the double blades, they are actually harder to learn in – and unless you plan on raising the next Michelle Kwan or Scott Hamilton, there’s no reason not to rent ice skates. Try to choose a time when there won’t be too many people at the rink so your toddler won’t be spooked by the crowds. 


Toddler Sledding
By:Tiina & Geir

A perfect introduction to winter sports, sledding can be done anywhere there is snow and a hill. There are plenty of sleds that are toddler-appropriate and include harnesses and/or higher rails so your little one doesn’t easily topple over, as well as ropes so a parent or older sibling can pull them along. Look for hills that aren’t too steep to avoid injury and make sure they are dressed in outerwear, like a snowsuit, that will protect them from the elements.

Dog Sledding

While some companies that offer dog sledding trips do not allow young children, many do. Your toddler won’t be able to drive the sled, but he will be able to sit in the sled and be along for the ride. Choose a short trail and make sure your little one is bundled up for the ride – the dogs can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour, depending on the size of the team. The dogs are well-trained, but this is also a great opportunity to teach toddlers about interacting with unfamiliar animals. To find dog-sledding in your area, start with your local zoos or organizations that put on winter festivals. Many offer special demonstrations during the winter months. 


As long as you're willing to take it slow, snowshoeing is another activity that toddlers can do as soon as they are steady on their feet. To ensure success, it is important to choose the right snowshoe for your child. Steer clear of the most expensive shoes, as your toddler will likely only use them for one season. Experts also suggest that poles are unnecessary for younger children as they can actually create an obstacle for them to trip over. Plan to go a short distance your first few trips, but as your child learns you can go farther and farther. 

Cross Country or Nordic Skiing

If you're itching to hit the slopes with your young child, you may have to wait another year or two. Most ski schools don't recommend starting younger than three when it comes to snowboarding or downhill skiing. However, cross country (also called Nordic) skiing is more realistic for families with young children due to the flat, or mostly flat, terrain. That said, teaching a toddler to stay upright on a pair or narrow sticks takes patience. Choose easy and short trails and expect to go slowly when starting out with a toddler. 

Remember, this is likely your child's first season trying any winter sports, so be prepared to take your time teaching them. In a few seasons, they'll be running skiing (or skating) circles around you. 

Continue Reading