So many wonderful family memories are created during family snow holidays. Smiles abound from the sheer delight of witnessing falling snow to the excitement of skipping through snow piles or falling through them. Naturally, some memories feature tears, but months or years later, we recall them with fondness and laughter.
Bringing your little bundle of joy to the snow for the first time can be one of the most exciting and stressful experiences for parents. Zac Howard has lived, breathed and surrounded himself in snow for most of his adulthood. This season, he is a new dad to baby Oliver, and he's got a few tips and tricks to share to make sure you and your baby have the best possible snow experience.
Put the right gear on for baby and you
It's easy to get overwhelmed when dressing both your baby and yourself for a snow excursion, but there are a couple of general rules here that work well.
- Layering is the best way to dress yourself, and your baby as this gives you the ability to add or remove layers as you need to. You can read more about layering in our article here.
- Ensure your baby is wearing at least one layer more than you. All the little accessories are essential; gloves/mittens, warm socks and booties, beanie, neck warmer. However, neck warmers may not be suitable for younger babies as it can restrict breathing if it moves over the mouth.
- Avoid cotton layers as it does not wick moisture and does not stay warm if it gets wet. Fleece or wool is a much better option. Down suits and jackets are great for a warm layer but be mindful of precipitation as they don't withstand constant rain if used as an outer layer. The feathers will clump together, and then its warmth will be affected. A waterproof shell would be much better as an outer layer!
Leave the stroller behind on snow walks
During the winter, when snow coverage is consistent, a baby carrier is by far the best baby transport device for the snow. Not only will a stroller not push through the snow, but a baby carrier will keep your baby warm next to you. An oversized snow jacket is best for over the top to stop the wind or fresh snow. Just remember your baby will make you warm as well, so you don't need to wear as much under the jacket as you think.
If you're heading out during the spring end of the season, where the roads/footpaths may be clear of snow, a stroller would be handy for walks.
Get a better grip
Walking on snow and ice can be quite slippery, so when you are carrying your baby and walking through the snow, it is essential to have the best grip possible. It is best to buy a set of snow chains or crampons for your boots. This can help significantly with grip.
Know where to step in the snow
While it is great to have snow chains for your snow boots, it is also great to know where to step to ensure the best grip possible when carrying precious cargo! Concrete or asphalt may look like the best place to walk, but it can have black ice on it and cause you to slip. Compacted snow can also be slippery, so fresh snow is best if you can find it. If there isn't any fresh snow, your snow boot chains will grip better through compacted snow over slippery asphalt or concrete.
Short little excursions
Don't assume you'll be out all day in the snow. Small little stints are best to get your baby used to the potentially variable environment. This time outside can slowly increase as they get more familiar with their new surroundings. Of course if the weather is amenable, you're likely to spend a longer time outdoors too.
Familiarise your baby with their new snow gear
Baby snow gear can be quite different from the clothes your little one has seen, touched or worn before. If you've bought snow gear for your baby, make sure they get a chance to try it all on before you head away. They'll then be excited to wear it outside when you're at the snow!
Plan around your baby's schedule
Timing is crucial in terms of your baby's schedule. If it's the time of the day where your baby is still not too active, then heading out for them to sleep is fine. But if they are very engaged and interactive, this might be the best time to head outdoors.
If the plan isn't working, abort!
Sometimes things don't always go our way despite our best planning efforts. On days like that and if your little one is not loving being outdoors, don't force it. Let them go back inside and try again later. You can even bring a big bowl of snow indoors for them to play with!
Choose the right time of the snow season for your holiday
When's the best time to go to the snow? For first time families to the snow, I highly recommend visiting in the springtime. The weather is warmer, and there is always snow on the ground. You might not get the 'snow falling from the skies' experience but a sunny day on the snow is going to be a way better first experience instead of being potentially freezing.
Once you've been a few times, you'll be more familiar with the ins and outs of taking your family on a snow trip. In fact, your next family snow holiday might be in the heart of winter with falling snowflakes!
Be prepared with your baby's food
When planning a snow trip with your baby, it's best to brainstorm ahead to minimise mealtime stress. Especially so if your baby has started to eat solids as it's essential to bring all the food you need for your baby. Supermarkets at the ski resorts might not have everything they usually eat so best to be prepared!
About the author
Zac Howard is the father of Oliver. He has been working and living in the snow, in Australia and overseas since 2009. He is a Senior Snowboard Instructor at Falls Creek, Australia and also owns and operates an adventure tour company that runs ski and snowboard tours and high altitude trekking tours. His company is called Mountain Ventures (www.mvaus.com | FB/IG @mountain.ventures)