So, since your child's birth, you've been chomping at the bit to nurture the next Mario Lemieux or Peggy Fleming, or perhaps the very first Peggy Lemieux—or maybe you just want to share your interest in ice skating with your little one, but you're not sure where to get started.
How Old to Start Ice Skating
When is it time to take your child on the ice?
Most experts say your child can balance on skates once he or she can walk. This may vary, depending upon your child's physical capabilities and your natural trust that they will do what's expected of them. Also, it's best to wait until your child can understand simple instructions before taking to the ice. Most believe the best time is somewhere between two and three years old. But as all children are different, the age you being at may vary.
Best Ice Skates for Toddlers to Start With
The best ice skates for a toddler are those with solid plastic skate boots and adjustable straps that can work with ever-growing feet. It will be a strap that looks similar to a ski boot strap and can be adjusted. These types of skates come with a soft inner bootie that is typically adjustable, as well, and can give extra comfort to sensitive little feet.
Children's ice skates are sized in junior sizes, so they would look like 6J or 10J. These sizes run small, so it's best to choose a size or two above your child's shoe size and bring two pairs of thick socks just in case.
Many believe toddlers should begin with double-bladed skates for added balance. But most experts say the double-blades can get in a child's way, causing loss of control, and hinder a child's ability to learn the technique. The best to choose are single-bladed adjustable skates, with blades that extend back further than the skate boot to help prevent falling backward. The rocker-style blades, such as on most ice hockey skates, assist in agility but allow for falls more easily.
One thing a beginning skater should avoid is the toe pick. A toe pick is a jagged serrated edge at the toe of the skate blade. This toe pick is meant to help a skater stop gracefully, but young children find it will usually send them face down on the ice. There are many brands of skates that do not have the toe pick. However, if you find yourself with a pair that has the toe pick, you'll either have to instruct your child on its proper use or have it ground down until smooth.
As far as buying ice skates for a small child, it's best not to buy skates right away. New skates can be expensive, and a child may only use them once before the end of the winter. Most ice rinks will have rental skates that fit small feet. You should call ahead before going and be sure they have your child's size. Most rinks offer battered awful skates for rental, but for beginners, this can be fine.
However, if you want to buy your child skates, a good place to look is on eBay, for lower prices. There's no reason to worry about quality. Toddler-sized skates don't get much use before a child grows out of them.
The two best brands of skates for toddlers are:
Bauer Lil Champs (For Boys) and Bauer Lil Angels (For Girls)
The Bauer toddler skates are two pieces, one as a plastic boot with a strap for tightening, and a bootie for foot comfort. These come in navy blue, teal, and pink for girls and boys.
The CCM Tyke is similar to the Bauer version, but it has an adjustable plastic boot that can be extended to work for more than just one season, which can be a great benefit for growing children. These skates come in both black and white versions.
Other Ice Skating Accessories
Beyond the skates, there are a few items your child should wear to ensure a good time when ice skating.
- Helmet - The ice is hard, and most children don't understand what will happen to them when they fall on the ice. A helmet is a great way to ensure that the day isn't shortened from a crack on the head. Many consider a hockey helmet the best, with a cage to protect the face, but a bicycle helmet with an extended brow is all that's necessary. This will protect your toddler's head, and the extended brow will protect his or her face.
- Knee Pads - These are great for simple falls, as children either fall backward or forward and forward means hitting their knees. Wearing knee pads can prevent a plethora of bruises.
- Gloves - When toddlers fall, they must learn to push themselves off the bitter cold ice. Many consider ice hockey gloves to be the best because of the extra padding, but they're not necessary. Simple mittens can offer the needed warmth.
- Elbow Pads - Along with knee pads, elbow pads may be necessary if your toddler consistently falls forward onto his or her forearms.
- Wrist Guards - When little ones fall forward, they often try to brace themselves with little hands. This can be painful for their wrists if it happens over and over.
- Padded Pants - If your toddler falls backward onto his or her bum enough times, you might consider padded pants, which will prevent bruises on the back side.
How to Teach Your Toddler to Ice Skate
The best way to teach a toddler to skate is to strap the skates on, while still off the ice, and ask him or her to take big steps, similar to marching, and keep balance as much as possible. A hand, or both hands, may need to be held to start, but after a while, your child should catch on, and be able to do it without help.
Once your toddler has grasped the concept, take him or her onto the ice. Some parents like to begin with a sliding walker for a child to be supported, but others just hold hands for a while. Either way, the goal is for your child to skate around the rink without assistance, so the walker may be an added expense only holding your child back.
Planning an ice skating excursion for you and your little one can be a great activity. But be prepared, and remember safety first. Happy skating!
Questions & Answers
Question: Have you ever skated?
Susan Christina McKay on December 17, 2019:
Both my boys are now fathers and teaching their sons to skate. My oldest was 18 months old when he started on bob skates...we skated outdoors at Mississauga City Hall Rink... he loved it. Second son was 20 months old when he started skating. They always wore elbow and knee pads, as well as their helmet. We just got them comfortable with the ice, and they primarily walked the ice surface, but the following year they took off and skated. They enjoyed the loud music and other people of all ages skating amongst them. They thought they were big boys and giggled the whole time "Look at me Mommy...Look at me"
Notsayin on June 12, 2019:
This article this baloney
Kids as young as 2 can skate on figure skates and it is easier to adjust to figure skates! Hockey skates are for more advanced skaters
Colin Granger on July 14, 2018:
I strongly recommend you check out Balance Blades, kids beginner Ice skates that prevent rear falls and help them learn to skate. Kids skate safer and sooner on Balance Blades.
yup on January 29, 2018:
"Bauer Lil Champs (For Boys) and Bauer Lil Angels (For Girls)"
Might want to re-word this in your article.
Elli P. on November 05, 2017:
Just letting you guys know that toe picks are absolutely not for stopping.. I am a figure skater in the Freestyle level and I am doing jumps. The toe pick is to dig into the ice when making your jump. It is also used for most landing. To stop on the ice, you should teach your kids the 1 foot snowplow stop(its the easiest stop). Its when you stop on an inside edge either on the right or left foot. If you were to attempt to stop on the ice using the toe pick, you would most likely end up landing on your face. So don't try it.
Dakota Laird on July 25, 2017:
Try Balance Blades, they are for beginners and work awesome.
Stephania Griffith on February 26, 2017:
I took my 2 year old ice skating today and the skate sizes are NOT the same as shoe size my son wears size 8 shoe however size 8 skate was way way too small he ended up needing a larger size. We also after lacing the skate on wraped tape around the ankle and laces for added stability which worked well.
Nicole on January 11, 2017:
Just an FYI- the toe pick has nothing to do with stopping. It's for jumping (and landing).
Jeff on May 08, 2016:
Most of the information is good, except for one glaring error; skates are never sized larger than his/her shoe size. Rather, they are almost always smaller than their shoe size. And you never want to buy skates they can "grow into", or have them wear multiple layers of socks. Skates need to fit properly. If not, the kids are being done a disservice.
parentsreview (author) from Lansdowne, PA on October 13, 2012:
@jackie You're teacher has a point. I never thought of that. You might want to try a shop that specializes in ice hockey equipment. Most ice hockey elbow pads are cloth. Or else, you could just put the pads underneath your daughters jacket.
jackie on September 12, 2012:
where do you get the elbow pads. the teacher said not to buy the kind for inline skate that has plastic because when the kid falls, s/he will slide across the ice. I can't find any of the cloth ones that is small enough for her elbows.
parentsreview (author) from Lansdowne, PA on February 01, 2012:
@Brett Thanks, so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
@Made I'm glad you had some good times skating. Thanks for the comment.
Madeleine Salin from Finland on February 01, 2012:
Both of my children were three years old when they started ice skating. They really like it! This good hub needs to be voted up!
Brett C from Asia on February 01, 2012:
Useful, you make some good suggestions ... particularly the skates with the longer rear blade, a great idea.
SOCIALLY SHARING and voting up.
parentsreview (author) from Lansdowne, PA on January 16, 2012:
@VeronicaFarkas That's awesome! Glad to hear you're jumping right in.
Veronica Roberts from Ohio, USA on January 16, 2012:
I appreciate this hub! My brother had my nephew on the ice right after his second birthday. No issues (my bro held his hands, of course). It was adorable.
My nephew - almost 3 now - plays with a hockey stick and puck inside, and loves it! =]
parentsreview (author) from Lansdowne, PA on December 29, 2011:
@ITcoach Great insight on balance! Thanks for the comment!