The thought of packing for a ski holiday with a baby may put a lot of people off a winter trip. Many friends have avoided skiing holidays while their children are very young and I can completely understand why. The thought of having to pack everything that you need to take a baby on holiday, on top of bulky ski gear can be daunting. However, it can be done so read on for top tips and advice.
Some insider information from a mountain mummy will go a long way towards helping make a ski holiday with a baby much easier. All the family can enjoy the mountains. You don’t have to miss out over numerous years while you wait until your little one is old enough to ski. Watching littles ones discovering the snow for the first time is a truly memorable moment, so don’t hold back. A little logistical planning and preparation can make a ski holiday with a baby easy peasy.
The first thing to think about is where you will be staying. Some family friendly chalets will provide a great deal of equipment for you. After all, you don’t want to be lugging travel cots, baby monitors, high chairs and sterilisers with you. Some companies will even order in nappies, formula and baby food for you so do your research when booking accommodation! There are also independent businesses that will hire equipment to you. These are often part of nannie companies so why not book your childcare at the same time.
If you plan to arrange childcare during your holiday, book early. Many nanny companies offer discounts outside of peak holiday weeks. If you don’t have school age children, avoid booking your trip during holiday periods. If you are not yet comfortable leaving your baby, maybe grandparents fancy a holiday in the alps?
Finally, think about the time of year that you take your trip. If possible, avoid school holidays as it is a lot cheaper outside of vacation periods. Also consider the weather. Whilst, the weather in the Alps is extremely unpredictable, March and April are generally warmer months than December and January. This may make getting out and about with a baby a bit easier. They are more likely to be more protected from the harsh elements when the temperatures have warmed up in spring time.
Don’t plan to jump in a cable car for a ride with your baby. Little ones can suffer the affects of altitude if they ascend too quickly. Their ears especially can struggle to equalise. I think our eldest daughter was 1 year old before we took her high up, then a ride in a bubble became a regular fun adventure. Our youngest is yet to experience this.
So, what are the essentials that you may need to pack?
1 – Change of clothes for the flight
Keep a change of clothes handy for EVERYONE, not just the baby. This is true for any long journey that you make. I think as parents we can be very good at thinking about what we need for our children but not so much for ourselves. Who knows when you will have a drink knocked all over you mid-flight, or baby food smeared into your top. And don’t forget that transfers to ski resorts often involve very windy roads……I’ll say no more!
2 – Baby monitor
A baby monitor is handy if you are staying in a chalet. Once your little one has gone to bed, you can sit downstairs and enjoy an evening meal (I laugh as I type this sentence because my one year old is yet to learn to go to bed!). Monitors may be something that your accommodation provides or that you can hire in resort but check first. Also, check on the type of monitor available if you have a preference. We have always preferred a video monitor, rather than just a sound transmitter and will often pack our own monitor when we go away.
3 – Nappies and formula
Although these are readily available in resort, they may cost a small fortune. Also, bear in mind that if your baby prefers a certain type of formula you may not be able to get this abroad. However, both nappies and formula take up so much room in luggage! One option is to pre-order formula to Boots at the airport that you are travelling from. You can then collect it once you have passed security. You usually need to preorder a week before you travel.
Nappies are light but bulky. As a space saving tip, think about taking them out of their packaging, and slotting them around the suitcase individually. Another option if you are heading to France, is that Amazon.fr may be able to deliver to your chalet. Check this with your hosts in advance.
3 – Snowsuit
You may expect very young babies to spend a lot of time indoors when on a skiing holiday. However, this need not be the case if they are dressed appropriately for the alpine temperatures. Fresh mountain air is invigorating and little ones love looking around at a winter wonderland. Strolls around a resort in a push chair or a sledge and a babies first experience of snow make magical memories.
Bear in mind that chalets tend to be extremely warm so little ones will not need to be overly dressed inside. In contrast, the temperatures outside are likely to be below freezing. The most effective way to keep little ones warm is through layering. Lots of thin layers under a snow suit generally fit better and keep little ones warmer than bulky clothes.
I am a seasoned mountain mummy, therefore I take for granted how tricky dressing a baby and young children for the snow can be. I think planning the layers and having well fitting outdoor clothes is probably the best advise that I can offer.
Gloves / Mittens
I prefer mittens for babies and young children, partly because they are easier to put on and partly because I feel that they keep little hands warmer. Whichever you choose, they are so easily lost that having gloves or mittens on a string or attached to a jacket by velcro is a good idea. I talk about my preferred mittens for little ones in a previous blog: Why skiing brings out the best and worst in people.
Sunglasses – Kidz Banz or Baby Banz.
A decent pair of sunglasses is essential at altitude, especially when you factor in the glare of the snow. Funnily enough, our eldest daughter loved wearing sunglasses and never took them off. Our youngest however, rebels against the anything that is good for her! Keeping sunglasses on her is a nightmare but having tried lots of different types, we are having some success with Kidz Bans sunglasses. Click on the pictures below for more details.
Microwave sterilising bags or Milton sterilising tablets
Sterilising machines may be available in your chalet or for hire through a nanny company. If not, an easy option for travelling is to take microwavable sterilising bags (check a microwave is available) or a packet of sterilising tablets with you.
Sleeping bag or familiar bedding
Some babies sleep anywhere and don’t mind change. Some (like mine) repel sleep, therefore to give us a fighting chance of our youngest actually entering the land of nod at a decent hour, when we go away we try to keep our bedtime routine the same to how it is at home. This includes having her sleep in her usual sleeping bag. This is one item I often forget to pack, hence why I have added it to this list although most chalet companies will provide bedding for babies on request.
High factor suncream and lip balm
This is essential at altitude, even in the coldest months. Whilst you can purchase suncream and lip balm in local supermarkets and pharmacies, it is much cheaper to bring your own with you. It will also allow you to research an eco-friendly natural brand before you go. I’ve recently come across eco-cosmetics which I will be trying with my girls this winter.
If you are carrying babies and toddlers around ski resorts on snowy, icy paths then a pair of crampons is essential. Crampons are inexpensive, light weight and easy to slip on and off a pair of shoes. Alternatively, if you spend a lot of time in the snow, there are boots available which have retractable crampons in-built into their soles.
A light weight collapsible pushchair won’t cut it in the mountains, unless it is springtime and the streets are clear of snow which is never guaranteed. Ideally you need an off road buggy. If you don’t have one, or if it is not practical to take on a plane then it is often easy to hire one. Many nanny companies in the Alps offer a pushchair hire service. An alternative, fun option for little ones with good sitting balance is to use a sledge. We love our Jané Trider as a great mountain buggy.
Of course, this may well change with Brexit, but for this season it is important that all the family are covered by the EHIC. You will also need travel insurance.
Many large ski resorts have lovely warm public swimming pools. This can be a lovely baby friendly activity to enjoy with your little one or a great family option on a bad weather day. When packing remember to put in a swimming costume or baby wetsuit, baby nappies and towels.
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