Introducing your kids to classic playtime activities is one of the highlights of parenthood. For instance, watching your kid react to bikes or bubbles for the first time is an absolute joy. And for the true winterphiles out there, you might be tempted to tow your baby home from the hospital in a sled. With this in mind, how old does a kid have to be to go sledding, and how can you make sure your kid has a safe introduction to this classic wintery pastime? The answers will depend largely on your kid and your personal feelings about winter safety.
There are many ways to introduce your very young babies to sledding. First, you can start out with baby pull sleds. According to Very Well, there are pull sleds designed for babies as young as 4 months of age, although many are aimed at slightly older infants. These can be dragged over safe, fairly flat surfaces, so you may just use them for a quick trip around the back yard to introduce your infant to the idea of sleds. For many parents, these pull sleds may be the best sledding choice for the under one set. Just be sure your little one is well bundled for the ride.
If your kid does want to tackle some hills, then supervision is required. According to Caring For Kids riding along with a parent on a sled is the safest bet, at least for kids under 5 years old. You can keep a grip on your precious cargo as you sail down gentle hills. Also, it's a good idea to encourage these kids to ride sleds sitting up, because riding on a runner sled head-first makes sledders — especially kids under 5 — vulnerable to head injuries in the case of a collision, as noted by Health Day. Sure, you want your little one to enjoy the speed and thrill of sledding, but in a safe way.
How long should you ride shotgun with your little one? The answers vary. Some parents may feel comfortable letting a 7-year-old child take on a well-known hill alone. But as explained by Access Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, children under 10 who sled alone may not have the coordination necessary to avoid obstacles or slow down. So if you're at a busy sledding hill with your 8-year-old, for instance, then you may want to take the lead in this instance. Keep in mind that this isn't forever, however, and soon your kid will have the strength and expertise to sled solo.