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One of the best parts of the winter is sledding. It's one of the classic activities to do in the snow, and it's something most parents want to share with their children. If you've got a toddler, this year might be the perfect year to start sledding - at least, if you're ready to follow a few basic steps.

The Basics

Taking your toddler out sledding should be a fun experience. It's important, though, that you come at this from the perspective of your toddler rather than your memories of sledding as an older child. While it's very possible that you had a great time outside in the cold, you probably don't remember the intense amount of work that your parents might have had to put into the process.

If you choose to take your toddler out sledding, the most important thing you'll need to do is to manage your expectations. There's a very good chance that your toddler will be scared of what's coming next, so start slow. Find a slow, gentle hill that barely has a slope - this will help them get used to the process of going down the hill. If you don't have access to a little slope, try pulling your child around on a sled - it's roughly the same for familiarization. Don't be surprised if you stick to the kiddie hills for many hours to come.

It's also important that you limit the time he or she spends out in the snow. Yes, it's tough to slow down a toddler when he or she is having fun, but try to remember that your child is going to be running mostly on adrenaline. Hurt muscles and tired afternoons are in your future, so make sure you cut your child off when you think he or she has had enough.

How to Dress

One of your most important jobs when preparing your child to sled is to dress him or her correctly. The good news, at least for those in cold climates, is that you probably already have everything you need. The bad news is that this process is going to be involved, so be prepared to distract a fidgeting child while you go through your preparations.

If you want to increase your child's happiness and decrease the odds of illness, try looking for water-proof outwear. Snowpants exist for a reason, after all, and they're going to be an incredible tool during the sledding season. Combine this with a good, waterproof winter coat, gloves, and a hat to keep your child from getting soaked.

Now that you have the outer layer ready, you can start looking at what goes under. The goal here should be layering and leaving as little skin exposed as possible. At the very least, you'll want a pair of long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and thick socks. If possible, try keeping another layer under this clothing. Finish everything off with a good pair of boots and you'll be good to go.

Safety Tips

Sledding can be incredibly dangerous even for adults, so you'll want to practice some basic safety tips. The good news is that most of this is common sense, especially for those parents who have had their children in sports. The bad news is that it's going to require you to move around quite a bit, so be prepared to get out in the snow with your child.

The most important safety tip is to always keep your child in sight. As a rule, you need to be at the bottom of any sledding hill that your child is going down. This will allow you to react quickly if your child falls and minimize your own chances of getting hurt at the same time.

Next, make sure to limit the size of the hill your child can sled down. Small and gentle should be the rule here, especially for a first-timer. He or she can build up to bigger hills as he or she gets older.

Always make sure you keep an eye on your child's body temperature. Keep an eye on exposed areas of skin if they're visible and remember to take frequent breaks. Frostbite can come up on your child quickly, especially when he or she is in the snow.

Finally, make sure to dress your child in something bright. Losing a child in the snow is a real possibility, and the faster you can spot your child the better. Visibility not only helps your child, but it helps everyone else who's sledding to stay out of their way.

Sledding can and should be a great time to bond with your child. Take some time to make sure that he or she is dressed correctly, that you've picked out the right spot, and that you're practicing basic safety rules. If you can set up the experience correctly, it will be one that you both cherish for years to come.

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