Parenthood

Teach a Kid to Snowboard (How We Did It With a 10-Month-Old Baby)

Introducing my 10-month-old baby to snowboarding

Pre-parenthood, I always heard stories of babies that could swim before they crawled or run before they walked.

It seemed that babies were built with instinctive reflexes that went beyond sucking or smiling—reflexes combined with a lack of fear and low center of gravity, two great advantages in the world of snowsports.

But how young can you teach a kid to snowboard, and how would you do so yourself?

I’ve seen tiny skiers bop their way down the bunny hill as young as two years old, and marveled as mini rippers seemed to get younger and younger with every YouTube video I watched.

One friend put his son on a snowboard at 18 months, and another friend started his daughter at 12 months. These toddlers were barely stable on their feet, yet solid on their boards as their parents pushed and pulled them across the snow.

For parents like us, it’s an amazing time to share our love of sliding sideways with our little ones. The gear gets smaller and better each year, to the point where my husband jokingly says he can hang the baby’s goggles off his rearview mirror.

A baby and toddler lying in the snow together
Future riding partners!

Our story of teaching our young daughter to snowboard

When our first daughter Gemma was born, we knew we’d introduce her to snowboarding as soon as she could stand. (After all, she got her first taste of it at eight months in utero!)

And I suppose we’d been prepping her for that day since birth. She loved to be tossed in the air and hung upside-down, and some of her favorite days involved sitting outside eating snow.

There was no doubt she was ours: a curious, alert, outdoor-loving adventure-seeker.

Teaching a toddler to snowboard
Our first daughter was 10 months old when she strapped in for the first time to get a little taste of sliding sideways.

Avid snowboarders and skiers always say, “Start ’em young!”

And start ’em young we did—at just 10 months old, we strapped Gemma into her very own snowboard and towed her around for a good 20 minutes until she started to fuss for a nap.

Gliding across the snow with her dad
Baby learning to snowboard
Introducing our first baby to snow and snowboarding at 10 months old.

She loved it. And admittedly, she couldn’t even walk on her own at that point. (She was starting to cruise though.)

The toddler-sized snowboard boots went up so high on her legs (almost to her knees!) that they naturally locked her in position, allowing her to balance as we pulled her around the base of the mountain.

I was such a proud mama to see other skiers cheering her on!

Now that she’s almost 6 years old, Gemma’s making S-turns down the mountain by herself. She’s passing on her old snowboard to her baby sister Ember, who strapped in for the first time at 14 months old last winter, and will start “real” lessons with us this winter at 2 years old.

Have we learned any tricks from the first round? Definitely!

Here’s our experience with teaching babies and toddlers how to snowboard and having fun doing it.

Toddler on a snowboard
Letting our first daughter get a feel for her board at 10 months old. (Helmets are always recommended, by the way. But this was just a quick introduction to her snowboard with Dad holding her the entire time.)

Should kids learn to ski or snowboard first?

As a family of snowboarders, we knew we wanted our kids to snowboard with us. My husband and I can ski (we especially enjoy cross-country skiing), but neither of us had a real desire to pick up downhill skiing again anytime soon.

Since we were teaching the kids ourselves, we felt it was easier to teach them not only how to snowboard, but to snowboard goofy. (Which we both are.)

This way, everyone could get off the lift facing the same direction, the kids could mimic our moves, and honestly, we’d have less equipment to carry!

If both parents snowboard, it just makes sense (to us) for kids to learn how to snowboard. If one parent snowboards and the other one skis, then take your pick of what you’d like your child to learn first.

One day we’d love for our kids to take up skiing as a new challenge, but in these early years (since we’re teaching them), snowboarding is where we want to start.

Little kids can start with skiing or snowboarding
Our first daughter trying out skis at 3 years old (though she ultimately decided to snowboard with us).

But isn’t it easier for a toddler to ski?

Yes, we hear it all the time: people insisting that it’s easier for kids to ski first.

Swayed by these opinions, I even bought a pair of secondhand skis for Gemma, thinking we’d teach her both activities and let her decide what she wanted to get into.

Luckily, she wanted to snowboard because we snowboard!

It’s a common misconception that kids have to learn how to ski first before transitioning to a snowboard.

That may have been true a decade ago, but with the latest advancements in snowboard tech for little kids and the right mindset, you can easily teach a child to snowboard as young as 2 years old. (You can start even younger, like we did, though the actual teaching doesn’t begin until about 2.)

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you start with skiing or snowboarding first. Go with the one that feels easier for you to teach! Since kids are developing so rapidly in these early years, they pick up motor skills quite fast.

A dad helping his 1-year-old baby get used to gliding on a snowboard
Our younger daughter Ember was 14 months old when she strapped in to a snowboard for the first time. (Yep, those are all of Big Sister’s hand-me-downs!)

What’s the right age for a child to start snowboarding?

This will depend on the child. For our family, we felt our kids were ready to start playing on a snowboard by the time their first winter rolled around. Our first daughter was 10 months and our second daughter was 14 months when this happened.

Ideally, kids should be walking (or at the very least, cruising and exploring their kinesthetic abilities by climbing, twisting, and rolling around) before you strap them into a board.

A 1-year-old baby squatting naturally as she learns how to balance on a snowboard
Our second daughter naturally crouched into position during her first snowboard lesson (at 14 months old).

Can you actually teach a baby to snowboard?

Babies and toddlers are masters of the squat, so it comes naturally for them to crouch into that position on a snowboard, with no instruction at all.

The same muscles that help them do “pizza” on skis also help them put pressure on a heelside edge to stop a snowboard.

If you’re starting young, you pretty much have no choice but to teach babies and toddlers yourself. Most resorts don’t give lessons to kids younger than 3 (unless they’re fully potty trained), and some places require them to be at least 5 years old for snowboard lessons.

The good news is, it’s very easy to teach a baby or toddler to snowboard if you have the right gear.

A 3-year-old toddler holding her snowboard and feeling stoked after a good run
Kids need all the same gear adults do: snowboard, bindings, boots, goggles, helmet, and waterproof outerwear.

What kind of gear do you need to teach kids to snowboard?

For the smoothest experience on the hill for everyone, proper gear is essential and it starts with keeping your kids warm and dry.

Fact is, your little ones will be much happier (and agree to stay out longer) if their fingers aren’t frozen or their baselayers soaked in sweat.

Here’s a post I wrote about dressing a baby and toddler for cold winter weather. The main takeaways are: no cotton, and layers are key! (I call it the Baby Sandwich.)

As far as hardgoods go (snowboards and accessories), kids will probably outgrow their board after two seasons, so hand-me-downs are great since they’re usually very gently used.

But, getting the right size is important. Too small a board, and your kid’s stance might end up too narrow to keep him stable. Too large, and it could be cumbersome to put the snowboard on edge (not to mention your child’s legs might be too splayed).

Sometimes I luck out at our local outdoor-gear consignment shops, but I think the best places to hunt for toddler snowboards are Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay (typically in late spring and early winter when people are unloading their old gear so they can get new gear).

Disclosure: All products on this page are independently selected. If you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Snowboards and bindings

Burton is my go-to for toddler-sized snowboards, which start at 80cm and fit an average-sized 2-year-old. I’ve always gotten the Burton Chicklet or Chopper (the only difference is in the graphics for girls or boys).

These boards are designed to minimize edge catches and help with turns, so they’re super kid-friendly (especially when your kids are too young to understand what catching an edge means).

Our first daughter (who’s slightly above average in height) used an 80cm board from ages 10 months to 4 years. Once she turned 4, we moved her up to a 100cm board.

Toddler holding an 80cm Burton snowboard
Most toddlers can start learning on an 80cm snowboard by age 2.

I paired the Chicklet or Chopper with Burton Grom bindings, which have a single strap and oversized buckle that my toddler figured out quickly.

I like the Burton After School Special as well, since it comes with the board and bindings as a set (no need to buy and mount separate bindings).

All boards in the 80cm to 110cm range are Burton Riglet Reel-compatible, so they have pre-drilled holes for easy attachment.

Snowboard boots

I put my daughter in Burton Mini Grom snowboard boots (size 8C) when she was 10 months old. It’s not the smallest size that Burton makes, but not so loose that a doubled-up layer of thick winter socks can’t fix.

At 10 months old, her shoe size was between infant/toddler sizes 2 and 3. So obviously, snowboard boots in size 8C were much bigger than she needed, but we never had a problem with fit since kids at this age have no idea how snowboard boots are supposed to feel.

Their feet are solidly locked in place with the bindings, they don’t need to buckle/unbuckle repeatedly the way we do, and they’re not doing much walking in the beginning. Most likely, you’ll be carrying your child to the lift and across the snow when they’re first learning. If you feel the boots are too loose for your liking, you can always stuff the toes a bit.

What I really like about the Mini Grom boots are that they come with Burton’s Room-To-Grow footbed, which can be removed to extend the boots one full size. So, we were able to use the boots from 10 months to 4 years on our first daughter.

A 2-year-old toddler sitting in the back of a car with her snowboard gear
Our older daughter’s snowboard and snowboard boots lasted from 10 months to 4 years old.

Can you use hard-soled snow boots like Sorel? Sure, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re just playing around. Toddler boots are so tiny, I found they constantly slipped inside the bindings, which can only cinch down so much.

So, I suggest buying proper snowboard boots one or two sizes larger, and if they’re the Mini Grom boots, they’ll grow as your kiddo grows. (Which we know happens way too fast!)

Helmets and goggles

A properly fitting helmet is important, and my favorite is the Giro Launch. It’s lightweight, easily adjustable, and comes in tons of colors so my daughter can pick her favorite and feel the stoke of winter coming!

Toddler wearing a snowboard helmet with matching goggles
A properly fitting helmet and goggles are essential.

We pair this helmet with pint-sized Giro Chico goggles, but you can also get the Giro Launch Combo, which sells the helmet with matching goggles together as a set.

Dad using the Burton Riglet Reel to tow a 1-year-old baby around on a snowboard
Pulling our second daughter around on a snowboard and getting her used to gliding on the snow when she was 14 months old.

Favorite training tools for teaching a toddler to snowboard

Ski accessories for teaching have moved beyond using hula hoops and ropes to reign your kid in as you guide them down the hill. These days, specialized training tools help little kids get the hang of snowboarding faster, and these two are our favorites.

Tow reel

We have the retractable Burton Riglet Reel attached to our daughters’ first snowboard and it makes it super fun (and easy) to pull them around the yard, house, and bunny hill as they’re getting used to sliding sideways that first year.

A 1-year-old baby being towed around on a snowboard with the Burton Riglet Reel
Our first daughter learning how to balance on a snowboard at 1 year old.

It’s also useful for pulling your kiddo back to the lift line so you don’t have to unstrap them.

Backpack tether

We were introduced to the MDXONE by a friend and can say it made a big difference in how we were able to teach our daughter to snowboard.

Before this, my husband would snowboard right next to her (on her heelside) while holding her up—it’s a back breaker (for him) and not very effective in the long run.

With the MDXONE, he could snowboard naturally, stay as close or far as he needed to, and control her speed without tripping either of them up. I should add that you need to be a fairly advanced rider to be able to do this, since it’s hard to predict which way your child will turn on a snowboard (especially when she’s not on a fall line).

Dad using a backpack harness to guide his toddler down the mountain on a snowboard
Our older daughter snowboarding down the bunny hill at 4 years old.

The MDXONE is a small backpack with a variety of attachments to aid in training: a grab handle, retractable leash, and bungee cords. Using it has helped us help her with getting off the chairlift, initiating turns, and slowing down on steeper sections.

And best of all, she can carry her own bribes, I mean, snacks for the mountain.

Dad and baby at the ski resort
Our first daughter hitching a ride in her baby backpack carrier at 1 year old, as Dad hiked up a hill for some turns.

How to introduce a baby to snowboarding

From ages 1 to 2, it’s all about having fun and getting used to snow. Sledding, snowball-making, and gentle introductions to the snowboard are key, and zero instruction takes place.

One of our favorite things to do at this age was seating Gemma on the board (between the bindings) and using it as a mini sled. That got her familiar with her own board, and piqued her interest in the buckles, straps, and graphics (and how they looked just like Mom and Dad’s boards).

As a baby, she also hitched a ride in this baby backpack carrier as my husband hiked up a small hill and snowboarded down to the parking lot, getting her used to the thrill of flying down a run and feeling the wind in her face.

Snowboarding with a baby in a backpack
Gemma was 1 year old when she made her first pow turns—on her dad’s back.

For us, the first year or two was simply about generating stoke, no matter what shape or form our snowplay took.

A 3-year-old learning how to snowboard independently
Our older daughter snowboarding independently at 3 years old, after 2 seasons of lessons from us.

How to teach a toddler to snowboard

From ages 2 to 5, when kids are able to understand simple instructions and develop edge awareness, you can start teaching them how to snowboard.

This is the basic progression we used with our older kiddo (now almost 6 years old and snowboarding independently) and the same steps we’ll take with her younger sister.

Step 1: Pull them around the house.

In fall, we like to get the snowboard out and pull our kid around the house (on carpet) or around the yard (on grass) to introduce (or reintroduce) the concept of sliding sideways. Think of it as a guided exploration and turn it into a game!

Toddler "snowboarding" on carpet inside the house for practice
Pulling your kid around the house or yard is a great way to introduce (or reintroduce) the concept of snowboarding before the season begins.

This provides endless entertainment as you can pull your kid around corners, up and over mounds, and all over the yard looking for treasures. The Riglet Reel comes in really handy for this, but you can also rig something up with rope.

Try to vary your speed to get your little ripper used to riding on land. When your child is able to stay relatively balanced over uneven terrain and understands what it means to stay low (squat), you’re ready for the next step.

Step 2: Give a gentle nudge-and-catch.

In the beginning, it’s much easier to teach your little one the basics of snowboarding when you, yourself, are not strapped in. Your patience will go a lot farther when you’re not constantly unbuckling your bindings to rescue your kiddo.

Look for a small, mellow hill where one parent can stand at the top (as the nudger) and one at the bottom (as the catcher). Position your child directly down the fall line and give a gentle nudge toward the other parent.

All you’re looking to do here is have your toddler glide down in a straight line, unassisted, into the catcher’s arms.

It’s important to choose the right kind of slope for this, as you don’t want to scare your kiddo with a high-speed wipeout or a glide that’s faster than your kid is comfortable with.

I recommend sticking with a distance of 10 to 20 feet at most; you want your kid to squeal for more, not less.

A parent teaching a 1-year-old how to snowboard
We started teaching our first daughter how to snowboard (at 1 year old) with the “nudge-and-catch” method.

If you’re teaching your toddler solo, find a hill with a long, flat runout at the bottom. This allows your kid to come to a stop independently without a “catcher” person.

You can also manage your toddler’s speed by using the Riglet Reel from behind. Your kid will end up going switch (since the reel is attached to the nose), but at this stage, it doesn’t matter.

While we’re playing in the snow, we love to psych our kiddo up and have her do little hops on her board, or lean waaaay back and waaaay forward just so she has a good feel for how far she can take her board.

Step 3: Practice heelside slipping.

Once your toddler’s gotten the hang of gliding down, the real fun begins!

Start training your child to squat with the snowboard very slightly angled down the slope.

A 1-year-old learning how to snowboard on the bunny hill
Teaching our first daughter how to slide down on her heelside at 1 year old.

You can stand in front of the board and lightly hold your toddler’s hands to boost confidence as you guide the board downhill.

Use simple instructions like “lean back” or “stay low” to help your toddler slow down, and “hands out” to help with balance.

Help your kids do “falling leaf” down the slope this way and progress onto managing their speed with the MDXONE harness, if you have one.

Whatever you do, try to resist the temptation to hold your kids from behind for the whole lesson. They usually end up floppy like a ragdoll as they lean on you for support.

You want to encourage them to stand on their own, plus they’re always more confident when they can see you.

Toddler flopping like a ragdoll on her snowboard as her dad holds her from behind
Holding your kids from behind usually leads to them flopping over like a ragdoll as they lean on you for support.

Once your kids are comfortable going heelside across the mountain, teach them to lift their toes so they can practice going on edge.

Lifting their toes also helps them prepare for the “hockey stop” (coming to a stop while balanced on their heelside edge).

Step 4: Practice toeside slipping.

For toeside, have your child face back up the hill and squat on the board.

Like heelside, the board should only be slightly angled down the slope. Help your toddler slide across the hill this way with hands in the snow for balance.

A 3-year-old toddler practicing toeside slipping on her snowboard
Our first daughter practicing toeside slipping at 3 years old.

As your kids gain confidence in this stance, gradually increase the downhill angle of their toeside slipping to a point where they’re not relying on their hands in the snow as much, and are lifting their heels naturally. (And always remind them to stay low!)

Toeside is generally more difficult for anyone to learn, so remember to keep things fun! Take little breaks for snacks, and point out things like the graphics on your snowboards, birds flying overhead, other kids snowboarding, anything that keeps your kiddo curious and excited.

Step 5: Progress to an S-turn.

How do you know when it’s time to start making turns? This will depend entirely on your toddler’s ability and comfort level.

When your kids can confidently control their speed on both edges, they’re ready to move on to turning.

A parent teaching a 3-year-old how to snowboard at a ski resort
Our older daughter starting to link turns on her snowboard at age 4.

Our older daughter began understanding how to link turns when she turned 4 (in her third season). The MDXONE backpack helped immensely, and once she got her heelside and toeside down, we were able to shred the bunny hill with her leading the charge.

It’s awesome to watch your kids progress each winter, even if it’s off the slopes—like toddlers suddenly wanting to be like the big kids and carry their own boards.

Before you know it, they’ll be asking for season passes for Christmas and dusting you in the pow!

Snowboarding toddler taking a break on the mountain and building a mini snowman with Dad
Taking a break from snowboard lessons and building a mini snowman on the mountain.

More tips for teaching your kids and having a blast together

We typically teach our kids on sunny groomer days. It’s just more enjoyable for everyone, as we (the grown-ups) aren’t frothing to get out there on a pow day, and the kids aren’t frozen and blinded on a storm day.

March through May is when we really pick up the pace on lessons, as all that slushy spring corn is soft and forgiving for beginners. It’s easy and positive to ride on, without the pain of falling on icy hardpack or the frustration of digging out of deep powder.

Mom and Dad riding a chairlift with a toddler
Sunny groomer days are the best days to teach your toddler how to snowboard.

My husband and I love playing on natural terrain features and riding through trees, and it’s something we hope to instill in our kids.

Tree runs are really fun opportunities to make up stories about imaginary forest creatures, and natural gullies (or baby-sized halfpipes) are perfect places to help them practice going side to side and up and down the walls without fear of falling off a cat track.

If your local resort has a beginners’ terrain park, let your kids play and explore features that help improve balance and maximize their stoke of being on the mountain.

At the end of the day, one of Gemma’s favorite things is riding between her dad’s legs on his board so she can “Go faster! Go faster!” down to the parking lot.

There are definitely days when the kids just want to build snowmen, slide down hills on their butts, or head to the lodge for hot chocolate after just one run, and that’s okay too. As long as they’re smiling and begging to go back by the time we leave, I’m all for it.

Dad and toddler riding on a chairlift at a ski resort
Riding the “grown up” chairlift is our daughter’s favorite thing to do.

Here’s a fun video showing our older daughter Gemma’s progression from 10 months to 4 years old. Below it, you’ll find a video of her little sister Ember charging the mountain at 19 months old!

This is our younger daughter, Ember, at the end of her first snowboard season when she was just 19 months old.

Maybe it’s ’cause she’s the second child and always trying to keep up with her older sibling, but Ember was pretty fearless so we actually took her on relatively long runs on the bunny hill during her first winter. By the time the season ended in May 2021, she was able to glide down by herself and instinctively squat and balance on her board.

Sure, she had a few minor spills but always got back up with big smiles and asking to go one more time. This winter, we’re excited to see how she progresses with “real” lessons from Dad!

Common questions about teaching toddlers to snowboard

A dad helping his 3-year-old toddler get off the chairlift on snowboards
Getting off the chairlift with a toddler doesn’t have to be scary if you talk through it ahead of time.

Where to buy toddlers’ and kids’ snowboarding gear

Burton Chicklet Kids’ Snowboard | Burton Chopper Kids’ Snowboard | Burton Grom Kids’ Snowboard Bindings | Burton Mini Grom Kids’ Snowboard Boots | Giro Launch Kids’ Snow Helmet | Giro Chico Kids’ Snow Goggles | Giro Launch Combo Helmet with Matching Goggles | Burton Riglet Reel | MDXONE Ski and Snowboard Harness Trainer | Osprey Packs Poco Plus Child Carrier | Baby Banz Retro Banz Sunglasses | Sorel Snow Commander Snow Boots

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on February 3, 2017.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

8 Comments

  • Jake
    November 17, 2021 at 1:11 am

    What a beautiful family mate. So glad you guys had a good time. I wanted to ask if you knew if the After School Special board is any different to the Chopper?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      December 1, 2021 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you Jake! The difference between those two boards is that the Chopper does not have bindings pre-mounted (you have to buy and mount them separately). The Chopper might also have a more convex base, but I’m not 100% certain.

      Reply
  • Lorraine
    October 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Hi,
    Could you tell me how big were the sizing from 10mth to 4 years boots and binding?
    Looking to introduce my kid to snowboard and looking to buy equipment. She will be 18 mths this winter but still wearing size 3 in shoes! No way a 7C (smallest in burton) will fit. How did you manage the sizing from bigger size for those 4 years?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Sara
      December 1, 2021 at 3:40 am

      I am curious to know too!! My daughter is also in size 3 shoes!!

      Reply
      • Linda Ly
        December 1, 2021 at 10:36 pm

        Bigger boots actually help with balance and stability because of how high they go up the legs to sort of lock them in place. We just doubled-up on thick winter socks the first year or two, but you can even stuff the toes if you need to.

        I think your daughter will be fine in 7C. At this age, they have no idea what snowboard boots are supposed to feel like, their feet stay solidly in place since they’re strapped in, and they’re not doing much walking in snowboard boots anyway (since you’ll likely be picking them up and moving them around on the snow during your lessons). Good luck and have fun!!

        Reply
    • Linda Ly
      December 1, 2021 at 10:36 pm

      Bigger boots actually help with balance and stability because of how high they go up the legs to sort of lock them in place. We just doubled-up on thick winter socks the first year or two, but you can even stuff the toes if you need to.

      I think your daughter will be fine in 7C. At this age, they have no idea what snowboard boots are supposed to feel like, their feet stay solidly in place since they’re strapped in, and they’re not doing much walking in snowboard boots anyway (since you’ll likely be picking them up and moving them around on the snow during your lessons). Good luck and have fun!!

      Reply
  • Em
    February 3, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    you really beat that 12-month and 18-month old! agh. hope this girl isn’t an introverted bookworm type…

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      February 4, 2017 at 1:02 am

      LOL no competition, we just felt she was ready. And FYI her dad and I are both introverts… I think a lot of outdoorsy people are. I’m also a bookworm. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.