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Taking Children Skiing for the First Time? What to Pack...

Packing a childís bag for a skiing holiday can be a nightmare. They seem to need far more than any adult although half of it may not be used. However, you can be sure of one thing - if you leave it out, your child is bound to need it!

Whatever month of the winter you are going to your chosen resort, it may be snowing, raining, foggy, sunny, freezing or boiling hot! You need to be ready for every eventuality.

The worst thing for your child is to be cold. Enough layers of the right materials are essential, but preventing gaps where the wind and snow can get in is as important.

Although children may like the idea of a jacket and salopettes or trousers, a one-piece ski suit is ideal as it wonít let the snow in at tummy-level.

The one-piece suit must have plenty of zip pockets with, ideally, one on the inside for small denominations of currency to pay for the odd mid-morning drink. This is also the best place to put a card or paper with your mobile phone number and chalet/hotel phone number.

All children of whatever age or standard must wear a helmet for skiing. You donít need to purchase one as they are normally available from the ski hire shop. A thin balaclava usually solves any complaints that the helmet isnít comfortable. Goggles rather than sunglasses should be worn, but donít buy the little diddy ones available - they wonít fit over the helmet. A fleecy scarf or neck warmer seals the gap between goggles and helmet and ski suit, while the ultimate for a warm face is a rather sinister-looking mask which covers the mouth and nose.

In addition, your child will need a cap and sunglasses when eating lunch outside as no child wants to sit eating wearing a helmet and goggles!

They will need thermal vests and polo necks. Even on warm days they may need cotton or woollen tights or longjohns. Do try to avoid nylon which is known to make legs and feet much colder than natural fibres. It is worth investing in proper ski socks - they neednít be very expensive and now come in a multitude of colours and design.

Your child will need at least two pairs of ski gloves - preferably mittens - which will also be useful for building snowmen, snowballs and toboganning. Thereís nothing worse than cold hands or wrists, so the longer, thicker and more waterproof the gloves the better. The best go well up over the cuff (some cuffs having a thumb loop to anchor them down). You can spray gloves with silicon if they are not very water-resistant.

They will need lipsalve, which must have a built-in sunscreen, and factor-60 sun cream. All the better if you can find these in a combined tube which can be worn round the neck. You will need to apply both before ski school and at lunch and ask either your child, or his or her ski teacher, to re-apply during the morning, even if it isnít very sunny.

Bags of mini chocolate bars are a great boost for tired ski legs, and are much cheaper in British supermarkets than most European ski resorts, while the most expensive option is to buy something up the mountain. Your child should take one with him each morning.

Many chalet and hotel owners insist that you remove any footwear that has been worn outside. Trainers may be all right for walking round the village if there is little snow on the ground but ideally children should have either moonboots with insulated linings or some kind of sturdy boot with rubber sole. Wellington boots are not great as they are very slippery on ice, and very cold.

Check if the resort you have chosen has a pool as a swimsuit can be useful if the weather deteriorates. You may get free entrance to the local pool if you have bought a six-day ski pass.

Check in advance whether you need a passport-sized photo for your childís lift pass - many beginners donít need a pass for the first few days. Some resorts now use the credit-card system of lift pass which doesnít need a photo at all. You may be required to pay some kind of deposit for the card, which is then refundable at the end of your stay.

It is worth checking if your accommodation has any games suitable for young children. If they donít, it is worth taking out a few favourites or even just a couple of packs of cards to play with in the evening.

Lastly, try to avoid taking any felt pens, which are usually a disaster on planes, transfer coaches and in any kind of chalet, self-catering or hotel accommodation. Pads of paper and crayons plus a few books usually keep young children content.

Happy skiing!

About the Author: Fiona Easdale works for the high quality ski chalet holiday company YSE in Val d'Isere

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