When you go on a ski holiday, the question is: can I take my baby skiing or should I take the easy option and leave my baby at home with relatives, friends or a nanny? For many people, going baby-less on a family ski holiday complete with healthy mountain air, is unthinkable.
But the younger your child the more important it is to choose accommodation and a tour operator geared towards families. The most comprehensive companies have dedicated creches as well as private nannies who will come to wherever you are staying.
Can you ski when you’re pregnant?
Many people think you have to stop skiing for the entire 40 weeks before the baby is born. However, provided you are already a proficient skier who is unlikely to fall when cruising on a piste, it really is possible to ski while pregnant.
You do need a decent level of fitness, strong legs, oversized ski clothing, and one other vital ingredient: a willing companion to carry your skis when not on your feet – and to buckle and unbuckle boots after it becomes physically impossible to reach them.
Always adhere to the strict rules laid down by your GP or obstetrician.
1. Absolutely no skiing allowed during the first three months of pregnancy, after which the baby is much better protected in the womb.
2. The safest months are between four and seven – before is risky and any later is not advisable. However good you feel, check with your doctor before embarking on a ski trip.
3. Do not take risks, ski well within your capability.
4. Stop immediately when tired.
How to find the best accommodation and creche
The effect on other guests when bringing a baby to a ski hotel can be similar to eating a doughnut in a health food shop. However, once you demonstrate that your baby was well behaved – most of the time anyway – you will find a softening of attitude among the other guests.
There are plenty of family-friendly hotels where you will find like-minded parents, and there are specialist family hotels, especially in countries like Austria and Italy. A large number of hotels in all ski resorts have indoor swimming-pools which welcome children, as well as in-house nurseries and playrooms.
Overall, a chalet is the most relaxed type of accommodation, with special children’s meals included and no chance of your baby irritating complete strangers. When booking, check whether your chalet or hotel has family-sized bedrooms with cots and linen, highchairs, potties, changing mats, computerised baby monitors, and laundry facilities. The best ones also offer microwaves, food processors, and toboggans with baby seats.
Find out what each creche or nanny service will provide. They normally work between 9am and 5pm and most will come equipped with baby monitors, bottle warmers, and toys. For babies on solids ask whether snacks and drinks are included. Some nannies will make up freshly pureed baby food, others will expect you to provide your own.
Check the nanny to child ratio. Tour operators normally employ qualified staff and maintain strict ratios – one nanny to one or two children is ideal for children under 12 months. Evening babysitting can usually be organized, at extra cost, through your tour operator.
Which resort to chose
Where you go doesn’t really matter that much. Choose a resort for you rather than your baby, but pick one with as short as possible transfer time from the airport.
Potential problems when taking a baby skiing are ear infections and dehydration from the high altitude. Lisa Dance of the Family Ski Company doesn’t recommend taking babies to very high resorts like Reberty in the Trois Vallees, which is nearly 2000m:
“It can be stressful for children under 18 months and if they have a cold they can get ear infections, which will ruin everyone’s holiday”.
Think carefully about whether it is worth going to all the way to North America with tiny kids. Expect temperatures to be markedly lower than in Europe – in the Canadian Rockies the thermometer can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius during the mid-winter weeks.
To get the best from airline travel with very young kids you need to plan ahead, making sure that you have enough nappies, some prepared baby food, and a drink close at hand. Remember too, changing nappies in the airport’s baby changing room is a lot easier than in the aircraft.
What to take with you
Pack plenty of your usual milk formula, bottles or feeder cups, baby food, nappies and baby wipes. The familiar brands can’t always be bought in a ski resort.
Take a buggy or baby backpack. The buggy won’t work very well in the snow (a toboggan is better), but it’s godsend at airports.
Your baby will need suitable warm clothing, sunglasses, and sun-block, Calpol or similar, and any other medication.
Remember to take favourite toys and an extra passport photo of your child, just in case.