Jen, Family Ambassador
Snowshoeing is generally a blast for the younger crowd. After all, what kid doesn’t love playing in piles of snow? Even our twins, who are just 17 months old, love to ride along in their kid carriers as they alternate between checking out the scenery and napping. But as fun as it is, there are definitely ways to keep the kids (and the parents!) happy during a winter trek. Here are our 6 tips for snowshoeing with little kids.
1. Let Them Explore
One thing I have learned while snowshoeing with my oldest daughter Addison, who is four, is to slow down and let her explore her environment. She loves climbing “mountains” (big rocks covered in snow) and searching for “fairy homes.” (In other words, little spaces she finds under rocks or inside tree roots that looks like cozy homes for fairies.) Giving her the time to check out new things gets her more involved in the hike, and quite honestly, has made me more observant as well.
2. Set a Challenge
When there are no fairy houses to be found, or it seems like your little one is running out of steam, find little ways to challenge them. I will ask Addie to spot trail markers, or dare her to catch me. For whatever reason, she can’t resist!
3. Ward off Hanger!
There is nothing worse than a hangry kid. They are unreasonable, often throwing fits over things like a scratchy tag on their clothing or the color blue. Really, anything can set them off. The best course of action is to keep the hanger at bay by bringing along tasty snacks.
All of our kids love squeeze packs of fruit which have the added bonus of being easy to eat while wearing mittens. Graham crackers, kid Clif bars, and Nutella sandwiches are also really big hits. When our oldest is dangerously close to hangry, we pull out the big guns – M&M’s.
And don’t forget to keep the kiddos hydrated! Ours all like to drink from my hydration bladder. A thermos with hot chocolate is a also a fantastic treat, while serving the dual purpose of keeping them warm! Which leads to…
4. Dress Them Properly
Little kids don’t like being cold any more than we do. It’s important to keep them warm while snowshoeing. All three of our kids wear a base layer, topped with a fleece layer, and finally a windproof, water resistant outer layer. Because Addie hikes with us, her outer layer is a two piece that allows a bit more movement, while the twins wear one-pieces that fold over their feet and hands (we put a pair of socks on their hands and their feet). This allows us to skip shoes and mittens, which are hard to keep on at this age. Their outfits are topped off with wool hats.
Addie has awesome mittens that have a neoprene sleeve that goes to her elbow, ensuring they don’t fall off while we are adventuring, wool knee-high socks, and waterproof boots.
5. Use a Comfortable Carrier
This suggestion is as much for you as the kids. Yes, you want them to be comfortable during your hike, but you also need to be comfortable. Snowshoeing can be hard enough without an extra thirty pounds on your back. Make sure to choose a kid carrier that works for both of you!
6. Bring a Sled
I learned this trick from my fellow Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador – John Soltys! Sometimes you want to push further than little legs can handle, so a sled is a great way to bring them along for the ride without having to worry if their legs tire out. It’s also great motivation for getting through the bulk of a hike – just promise them they can sled downhill or that you’ll pull them through the snow.