snowshoeing with toddlers

Snowshoeing With a Toddler: Your Comprehensive Guide

Snowshoeing With a Toddler: Your Comprehensive Guide

Your family loves enjoying the outdoors, but the snow's coming down and you've got a toddler. It looks like you're stuck inside, right? 

Nope!

You can and should get your toddler outside, even when it's snowing. While your adventures may look different during the cold weather, you can still trek across some pretty amazing trails, even with your little one in tow.

Yes, you can go snowshoeing with toddlers! Read on for an ultimate guide to snowshoeing with your kiddo and then get ready to get your family back on the trails.

How to Go Snowshoeing With a Toddler: Methods of Transportation

Imagining the total meltdowns that happen when you’re attempting to get your 2-year-old to just play outside in the neighborhood?

Since that’s the norm with most of the toddler-set, you might be skeptical that strapping snowshoes on your child will end in anything different. 

We were there, too. But hear us out and give it a chance. 

We’ll guide you through the process of getting your kid out for the first time, to helping her love snowshoeing (and other outdoor activities, too). 

There are several methods for transporting your toddler through the snow. The way you choose will depend on your child's age, ability, activity level, and your own expectations for your snowshoe.

Step #1. Carry Your Toddler

One method of transportation is carrying your child on your back in a backpack hiking carrier

These usually are built with a metal frame and are sturdy and lightweight. As long as you're relatively fit, using one of these carriers is doable. We still carry our 3.5 year old, Poppy, in a backpack carrier (when she’s being stubborn and won’t walk)!

If this is the first time you’re getting your kiddo out snowshoeing, this is step #1. Don’t expect to get them into their own set of snowshoes just yet.

Even after your child is in snowshoes, using a carrier pack may be a good option, as they get tired quickly. If you want to take a longer snowshoe than your child is willing or able to keep up, you can extend your time outside with a carrier. 

Step #2. Pull Your Child 

After you’ve gotten your kiddo used to being outside on your back, you may be able to get them into their own snowshoes. 

But if they don’t seem ready, and you want to try out another option other than carrying, this is the next step. 

You may feel like a reindeer, but pulling your kiddo is fun for them and gives you the bonus of a better workout! Here are your options: 

A Chariot or Ski Stroller

If you’re an outdoorsy parent, you have probably heard of a Chariot, if you don’t already have one. A Chariot is a rugged, all-terrain stroller that can come with attachments to convert the wheels into skis. 

You pull the stroller behind you with a waist strap, and you can enclose the stroller so that your little one won’t get cold. Toddlers won't get tired as they glide along.

Pulling a stroller can be easier than toting around a heavy toddler on your back, but you may be limited in where you can snowshoe. Hills and uneven terrain can be challenging to navigate. 

A Sled

Your toddler will probably love this option. You can tie a sled to your waist and pull your child along. Your toddler will have more fun riding on a sled than on your back or in a stroller and can easily get off and move around for a bit. 

Pulling your child on a sled can be tiring, so it may not be the best choice for long hikes or rougher terrain. You'll also want to make sure your child understands how to hold on. 

We definitely like the Chariot option better than pulling a sled, but anything to get you outside!

Step #3. Getting Your Kids Snowshoes

After you’ve ventured out with your munchkin a couple of times and they’re at least somewhat used to being out in the snow, you have a choice: 

You can graduate to the highest level… or you can enjoy yourself on the level you’ve achieved. 

The highest level? Getting your toddler their own pair of snowshoes.

There are plenty of benefits to your toddler snowshoeing: 

  • It's great physical activity
  • They get fresh air
  • Fostering a sense of achievement 
  • Letting your kiddo explore 
  • Less work for you (you don’t have to carry her!) 

While getting your 2-year-old in snowshoes is relatively safe, as long as you aren't hiking near a cliff or other dangerous area, littles only have so much stamina. 

If you choose this option, just be realistic with your expectations at first. You won't be able to go on long hikes, and you may not get very far very fast, but if you snowshoe frequently, your toddler will build up endurance. 

You'll also want to make sure to pick safe, flat areas to hike.

When Can Kids Start Snowshoeing?

snowshoeing with toddlers

Toddlers can start snowshoeing once they're walking and are somewhat steady on their feet. 

Most kids won't get the hang of it until around three or four, but it's never a bad idea to get your toddler on a pair of snowshoes to let them start getting used to it. 

Is Snowshoeing Safe for a Toddler?

Snowshoeing is a safe activity for a toddler, as long as you're not hiking over dangerous terrain. 

If your child falls, they'll land in the snow and are unlikely to get hurt (though that doesn’t mean they won’t lose it, because well, they’re toddlers!). 

Snowshoes tend to slow kids down, so you won't have to worry about your child getting too far away from you. 

How to Buy Snowshoes for Your Toddler

While you might often buy things like clothing a size bigger so that you can get extended wear out of them, snowshoes need to fit correctly to be effective and safe. 

Before ordering snowshoes or going shopping, weigh your child. Their weight will help you determine the correct size.

The great thing about kid’s snowshoes is that your little one can wear them for years to come. 

Snowshoe Size Chart

Child's Weight

Snowshoe Length

Less than 50 pounds

16 inches

Between 50-90 pounds

17-19 inches

Over 90 pounds

21-inches (women’s or youth snowshoes)

Snowshoes are typically made of aluminum or molded plastic. 

You'll likely want plastic for your toddler, as it's lighter. You should also consider the kind of snow. If it's deep and not firmly packed, you'll need wider, longer snowshoes. 

You want to make sure the bindings are easy to tighten and loosen, as you or your child will want to get them on and off quickly.

Should You Rent Snowshoes?

You may have the option to rent a pair of snowshoes for a day or even a season. If you plan to hike a lot, then you'll probably want to own a pair. 

Renting can be beneficial if you want to let your toddler try out a pair of snowshoes before buying or if your child is on the cusp between sizes and you'll need to purchase a new pair the next season. 

Tips for Snowshoeing With a Toddler

You may think snowshoeing could be too much for your toddler, but with the right expectations and some patience, your child can learn to snowshoe at a very young age. 

#1. As Always, Preparation is Key 

Like when you’re doing anything with your little for the first time, prep, prep, prep. 

I don’t mean just prepping the gear and packing lots of snacks to avoid a meltdown. I mean using your words to prepare your toddler for what’s to come. 

You know, like you’d do before you take your kid to the dentist for the first time, or before you haul your toddler on her first flight.

Tell your child what to expect. Go over where you’re going, what you’re doing, the equipment you’ll be bringing. Show them the snowshoes and gear. Have them help pack. Discuss temperatures, what you’ll do if they get cold, the snacks you’re bringing, the route you’re taking. 

This is going to make the biggest difference in whether your toddler will cooperate or not — and even whether they’re likely to enjoy your trip.

#2. Start Small and Don't Overdo It

Start by getting your toddler used to being outside in the snow. Use a carrier or a ski stroller at first, like in Steps #1 and Steps #2. 

When you're ready to get your kid on their own snowshoes, it's important to start small. You can't expect your child to hike a very long way. 

Begin by letting your child get used to the snowshoes. Don't attempt a huge trek. Just let your child walk and play in the shoes, maybe outside in your yard at first. Don't forget to teach your child how to turn around, as you can't go backward in snowshoes.

When you do attempt a longer snowshoe, start with very short distances. Don't be surprised if you only go a hundred feet or so those first few times. Keep an eye on your child. At the first sign they're tired, it's time to call it a day. Over time, your child will build up endurance.

#3. Be Strategic About Where You Snowshoe

Make sure to choose relatively flat areas to snowshoe, especially in the early days. 

Steep hills and uneven terrain will be too difficult for toddlers who are new to snowshoeing. You'll also want to avoid anywhere with cliffs or other dangerous features. 

A short, local route will be ideal for your first couple of trips. As your munchkin gets used to it, you’ll be able to go for longer distances. 

Choose a location that’s warmer, if you can. While you may feel great while snowshoeing in the negatives, you're toddler likely won't. Pick a warmer day, so your child can stay at a comfortable temperature.

Dressing Your Toddler for Snowshoeing 

Your toddler can wear almost any type of shoes while snowshoeing, but the best choice is a pair of snow boots. Lightweight boots are a must, as you don't want any extra weight with the snowshoes. The insulation in snow boots will keep your child's feet warm and dry. If it's sunny, sunglasses or goggles can be helpful.

If it's very cold, your child should wear either a snowsuit or a snow bib and jacket. 

Make sure to put on some thermal underwear underneath, like a base layer. Wee Woolies is an excellent Canadian baby and kids clothing brand that makes merino wool base layers for kids.

Don't forget a hat and mittens. If it's only moderately cold, you may be able to get by with some lighter layers. As with the boots, you want clothes that will keep your toddler warm and dry. Consider layering and removing layers if your child gets warm.

Other Gear You'll Need

Make sure to bring a hiking bag with all of your typical gear, including:

  • Water
  • An insulated container with a warm drink or soup
  • Trail snacks that your toddler enjoys
  • Lunch (if you'll be out all day)
  • Extra day's worth of food
  • Compass
  • Map
  • GPS
  • Small first aid kit
  • Waterproof matches
  • Sunscreen
  • Wet wipes / diapers
  • Extra set of underclothes for your child 

Get Ready to Enjoy Snowshoeing With Your Toddler

Snowshoeing with your toddler can be so much fun. 

There may be a few challenges when you're first getting started, but keep with it and encourage your child not to give up. 

Remember that you're helping your child develop a physically active lifestyle and a lifelong love of nature.

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