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Be Prepared for Sledding Fun!

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Be Prepared for Sledding Fun!

When my kids see that first falling snow, they can’t wait to get their snowsuits on and play. While snowball fights and building snowmen are always fun, nothing is more exciting than grabbing their sled and flying down the hill. 

Here is our guide for dressing your kids for the weather, sledding safety, choosing the perfect sled, and locating that perfect spot. Enjoy the slopes!

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Check out other fun Winter activities in the Des Moines area:

Dress for the Weather

Dress your child in layers to help keep them warm during sledding including a base layer to keep them dry such as long underwear, a middle layer to hold in their body heat, and an outer layer to protect them from the elements such as snow pants, jacket, gloves or mittens, hat and snow boots. Check out our post Winter Gear for Kids and How to Dress Your Child for more information.

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Sled Safety

You can introduce sledding to small children by pulling them on a sled with a seatbelt and on a flatter surface. It’s also recommended that children ages 5 and under ride with an adult for safety and to prevent injury and collision. 

According to a research study done by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, OH, most sledding injuries are caused by collisions, and a head injury was the most common accounting for 34% of injuries. As a result, you may consider using a ski or hockey helmet when sledding for added protection just as they would for snowboarding and skiing. These types of helmets are also tested in colder weather rather than regular bicycle helmets.

Make sure the hill and bottom of the hills are clear of trees or other obstacles that your child could run into and go sledding during the day for adequate light.

Take turns sledding down the hill to prevent collisions with another person and ride one person to a sled unless it’s a sled made for multiple riders. This helps prevent someone from getting thrown off the sled and injured.

When venturing outside, check the wind chill to determine safety for outdoor play. Any temperature with a wind chill below 13 degrees is generally believed to be too cold for kids to play outside as frostbite can set in much quicker.

Sleds should not be pulled from vehicles as this can cause significant injury. Yes, I have seen sleds pulled behind ATVs. 

Types of Sleds

There are a few different kinds of sleds made with a variety of materials. Choose your sled depending on your child’s age, how long you want it to last, and the speed and quality of ride you want.

Toboggans

Toboggans have flat bottoms, are typically made from plastic or wood, are designed for multiple riders, and can be steered by shifting your body. They often have a rope at the front that your child can use to pull it back up the hill. Wood toboggans last longer but they can also be heavier to pull uphill. Plastic toboggans are lighter and more affordable but can potentially crack. Others are made from foam which provides more cushion and can be slower.

Saucers

These are circular, lightweight, and can move quickly but there is not much control for steering. They are also designed for one rider. Many saucers are made from metal which is more durable and provides a faster ride. Picture Chevy Chase whipping down the hill on a garbage can lid from the movie Christmas Vacation!

Hybrids

These are a combination of a toboggan and a saucer. They often have some control for steering like a toboggan but go faster like a saucer.

Inflatable Tubes

These are often circular like the saucers, but they are inflatable and can be designed for one or more users. They are filled with air which helps provide cushioning and lets you sit up a little higher.

Recommended Sleds

Best Sled for Little Kids: Gizmo Riders Baby Rider Toddler Sled

Amazon: Gizmo Riders Baby Rider Toddler Sled Baby Sled 

This sled is designed for younger riders to be pulled across a flat surface. It has a seatbelt for safety and an angled backrest to prevent tipping. While it’s made of plastic the seat has anti-slip foam for comfort and it holds up to 55 lbs.

Most Fun Inflatable Snow Tube: GoFloats Winter Snow Tubes 

Amazon: GoFloats Winter Snow Tube

This snow tube comes in a variety of fun designs from Unicorns, Frozen, Flamingo, Ice Dragon, Penguins, and Polar Bear.  There is a style for everyone!

Best Plastic Sled: Slippery Racer Downhill Xtreme Toboggan Snow Sled

Amazon.: Slippery Racer Downhill Xtreme Flexible Toboggan Snow Sled 

This sled is made from plastic and coated with a treatment to be used in even colder temperatures. It has handles, and a built-in pull rope, and can hold 1-2 riders.

Best Saucer: Sonic Snow Saucer DLX

L.L Bean: Sonic Snow Saucer DLX 

Metal saucers will have your kids zooming down the hill. For more control, consider this saucer made from polyethylene and a nonslip foam interior. Designed for kids ages 4 and up and made to last.

Best splurge: L.L. Bean Kids Sled and Cushion Set, Tandem

L.L Bean: Kids’ Pull Sled and Cushion Set, Tandem 

I’ve been looking at this sled for quite a while. It makes many “best sled” lists and is the sled dreams are made of- wooden with backrests, cozy red cushions, spots for two kids (you can also just get it with one seat), and one that is well made and could be passed down from generation to generation. It’s also a little heavier since it’s made of wood which makes it sturdier for toddlers. I may have just talked myself into purchasing it!  L.L. Bean also has a snow tube, toboggan, and saucer for kids that are all highly rated. While they are more expensive than others they are built to last and have made many of the “top lists” such as in Parent’s Magazine and the Spruce.

Best Locations for Sledding

Make sure sledding hills are away from roads, trees, bodies of water, and other hazards. Hills should be snowy instead of icy as this will be softer if your child falls. Hills also shouldn’t be too steep, especially for younger children. Popular locations around the metro are listed here. What is your favorite!?

Enjoy the time outdoors with the right gear, a great sled, and one of the many fun sledding locations around the metro. 

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L is an occupational therapist turned (mostly) stay-at-home mom. She has worked with adults to young toddlers and has a special interest in early childhood development targeting fine motor skills, feeding, sensory processing, and coordination. She loves incorporating this knowledge with her own two little boys through play. When she’s not running after her little ones she enjoys traveling, cooking new recipes and eating chocolate from her secret stash.

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