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Toddler skates?

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by michelle K, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. michelle K

    michelle K Active Member

    Hello, I am thinking about getting a pair of ice skates for my 30-month newphew.

    Can anyone tell me how Riedell Yellow (or white) Ribbon compares to Jackson Softec Tri-Grip Youth? Do the Riedell boots have comfortable padding for toddler feet?

    I am also a bit concerned about the size of the boots since I have to order online. Are softec and Riedell boots true to size?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  2. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    When my daughter was that young, she wasn't skating. I didn't feel she was ready. But once she was age 3 1/2 we did get her skating. At first, she used rentals. Once we knew skating was something she liked, we went with the Jackson Softecs. They fit well, are supportive, are warm, are comfortable right away - no break in time - and aren't terribly expensive versus the quality of the skate.
  3. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    I think you should talk to a pediatrician to see if 30 months is too soon. In dance no child should be taken before the 3rd birthday; although 3 1/2 is much better.
  4. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I've taught kids starting at 2 years. Honestly, at that age, I'd just get rental skates- don't their feet grow really fast? Skates aren't something you want "room to grow in".

    Plenty of the kids I've worked with have the softecs and they seem happy in them. For kids under 4, I haven't noticed a difference in their ability to control their skating in rentals vs their own skates. When they get older, then you can see the difference. The youngest kids just don't have the muscle control for it to make a difference. The 2 year olds usually just stand up, march, and maybe a short 2 foot glide. There isn't much "skating" going on, but they all seem to have fun.
  5. taz'smum

    taz'smum Well-Known Member

    My daughter got on the ice as soon as she could walk! We had to put slippers inside the smallest pair of skates available to pad them out!
    I don't see how it can do any harm at all, toddlers are used to falling over, their bones are very elastic.
    Also at that age, they will spend so little time on the ice, I can't see how it would affect them in any way!
  6. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    Absolutely correct: don't plan on having a tot stay on the ice for more than 20 minutes. Very few have the attention span or interest, especially at the beginning. Some will surprise you - I have a just-three yo student who never wants to get off the ice. Even so, at least 80% are just waiting for the hot cocoa and snack break, lol.

    My kids are very proud to say that their mom "put them on the ice at 18 months." They don't tell the listener that I had them wearing snowsuits, sneakers and helmets initially, double runners when they were 2-1/2 for short skating ventures. Some rinks don't have tiny-tot sized skates, so call ahead to check. I put them in group lessons and recreational Riedells when they were 4 and they love the sport, even the oldest one, who is a couch potato.

    Please, put a helmet on him if he goes skating. Toddlers are top-heavy and they often hit their heads when they fall on the ice. It only takes one head-whack to turn a kid off to the sport.

    I've taught ice skating for over 15 years. I've found that tots that didn't *ask* to go skating really don't get much out of lessons. If you can skate/teach, take him skating yourself -- it's such a better experience for the kids to learn the basics with someone they trust.

    I wouldn't (and never did) bother with regular skates for a tot that young. Just buy a good pair of athletic shoes and some double-runner blades. He's not going to really skate at that age; it's just for fun and the experience. You can add a pair of snowpants and a helmet to make it a big present.

    If you're dead-set on buying skates, go with the Jackson Softec model. The price point is good, the skates are well-made, and they can be resold/passed on when they're outgrown. He'll probably outgrow them before they get worn out.

    There's a company called "BabySkates" that makes smaller sizes of figure skates. Their website is www.babyskates.com. A little pricey for something that's going to be outgrown quickly, but you can sometimes buy them used on eBay or Craigslist. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleans them up well so they look like new.

    Re: Sizing - measure his feet with a cloth tape measure, standing up. Skates don't run true to shoes and Riedell has a different scale than Jackson, so a size 10 in Riedells might be a size 9 in Jacksons. Don't buy more than a half-size larger because too-long skates are a trip hazard. Many kids split their chins open from wearing skates that make them trip.

    One last note: do not buy him hockey skate blades. Get the figure skate blade. It's longer, more flat, and easier to learn on than hockey blades, which are rounded at each end.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  7. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Good post!

    Yes! yes! Helmets are an absolute must. I would worry about a whack on the head doing a lot more damage then making a child not like figure skating anymore. I've noticed girls tend to have softer falls, as they are usually less wild- but I wouldn't let any under 5s out without helmets. Honestly, I wish they were more mainstream in the sport (at least for practice) overall.

    Also- be prepared that even a tot who asked specifically for skating might change his mind. My nephew asked his mom for 4 months when I'd be down to go ice skating (he's 2). That's a long attention span for a 2 year old. The morning I was there, he put his mittens on during breakfast "just to be ready". When he got to the rink he refused to put the skates on and threw a fit (he did like watching me spin). He would not try it at all. Two weeks later "I can't wait to go ice skating with Aunt Jessi". SIGH.

    If you sign the toddler up for lessons, check the refund policy. (Our rink won't refund lesson fees for anyone over 5. Under 5, you can pull out of classes and have a year to resume them.) There are lots of toddlers who get out on the ice, and freak out. But there are even more who have a blast.

    I'm off the opposite opinion with double runners- I wouldn't bother. You might as well not be on the ice. The kids can't do anything but walk in them. Real ice skates help train their balance, and most of them can eventually learn to glide. I think double runners are useless, we do not allow them in our LTS classes.

    Completely agree on the no hockey skates- it's just an exercise in frustration. They are difficult for kids (and many adults) to balance on, so there are a lot more falls. And they make it very hard for toddlers to stand back up.
  8. Bunny_Hop

    Bunny_Hop New Member

    I'd also suggest rentals. Some toddlers seem to like the idea of skating, but really don't like it (due to being scared).

    I started on rentals. The ones at my rink were really, really blunt, so I never really learnt anything on them, but I did decide I liked skating. Then I graduated to some second-hand skates for a while before I got my own. :)

    Also, definitely a helmet! At our rink a little kid fell onto his head and got a concussion so bad he couldn't walk.
  9. michelle K

    michelle K Active Member

    Thank you for all the wonderful tips!
    I am not thinking about signing him up for lessons right away. My sister and I used to take lessons together some years ago and we want to take him with us when we go skating for fun on some weekends. Maybe we could just hold him and let him feel the ice for a while. I wanted to get him on the ice on rentals first, but there seem to be no small rental skates available for toddlers where I skate (Korea).
  10. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't suggest using double runners for a LTS class and I don't allow them in my own classes, but they're perfect for a few "let's go skating" trips with a tot. They're usually adjustable in size, so they can be made bigger if the first try doesn't work out and it takes a few months to try again, as you've experienced. It's also more comfortable and familiar to use their regular sneakers as footwear.

    A 30-month old doesn't need to learn how to stroke or glide, especially on the first few outings. You just want them to get comfortable on the ice and march, for which double runners are perfect training tools. It prevents the constant running-so-they-don't-fall scramble that so many young skaters do with regular skates. (Esp. dull rentals.) I teach a set of young boy/girl twins and they BOTH do that - it's like watching a cartoon character on the ice, roflol!

    The stability of the wide double blades with slight slipperiness (they can be sharpened, btw.) is perfect for that age group. You can teach them to glide simply by pulling them along a bit. Learning how to fall and get up is easier in double runners for tots, considering they can't go very fast in the skates. Falls are less unexpected, lol. Single-blade skates are difficult for the first few "get back up" tries given the tots' poor balance and top-heaviness, not to mention their lack of body control. It makes the whole experience a much more fun introduction to skating and whets their interest in the sport.

    I forgot to mention the tests of readiness for young skaters:

    1) Be able to leave the parent and let go of others while standing on the ice.
    2) Be able to balance on one foot off-ice for 3 seconds. (Eyes closed=bonus)
    3) Be able to follow instructions and control their bodies.

    If you live in a cold climate, you'd do well to just freeze a big puddle in the backyard, suit the nephew up and put a helmet on him, and let him slip and slide in his sneakers or on double runners. Have him sit on the ice, then spin him on his bottom or back. Let him tobaggan like a penguin. Draw on the ice with markers and use skate blades to clean it off. Under the age of 7 or 8, fun should be the focus for skating.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
  11. minx

    minx Active Member

    Always wear a helmet at that age.

    I rarely recommend one skate over another but am going to step out and HIGHLY recommend the Jackson Softec for skaters under the age of 5. I teach from 2 year olds on up and these skates have good support and are warm. The chlldren don't complain about their feet at all.

    Everyone owns their own skates here in Canada, rentals are practically unheard of, but there are loads of used and swap sales. Buying skates is just part of winter, along with snow tires.
  12. dbny

    dbny New Member

    I used to think the double runners were worthless, but I've come to agree with FigureSpins that they are great for introducing a young tot to the ice before they are ready to learn to skate. Toddlers initially don't walk heel to toe, but do a flat footed marching step that is perfect for learning to skate, so getting them onto the ice safely before they can really skate serves to associate that motion with the ice. I also highly recommend the various Jackson Softec models for young skaters. One word on the helmet. It should be a rounded helmet, not a pointy bike helmet and not a ski/snowboarding helmet. The ones for skiing/snowboarding are way too heavy to deal with on the ice.
  13. sk8lady

    sk8lady New Member

    I'd have to take issue with this--it depends on what the child is interested in. Hockey blades are indeed shorter than and more rounded than figure skate blades, but plenty of kids trip over the toepicks on figure blades. It's really a misnomer to say one is easier than the other. My son--and many of his hockey friends--started skating at 3 on hockey skates and has never expressed the slightest interest in skating in anything else!
  14. dbny

    dbny New Member

    IMO, It depends even more on what the child is capable of. I've seen too many tots unable to even stand by themselves, collapse in tears and be done with skating because their parents put them in hockey skates. I'm not saying it never works, just that it often does not. If a child insists on hockey skates from the start, then rent them until you are sure he/she is OK in them. (A good policy for buying any skates.) I've also seen that burning desire to play hockey disappear quickly when a child gets on the ice and finds out it's not so easy. Skating is a real struggle for many kids, and starting in hockey skates just makes it even harder for those not naturally gifted with excellent balance, good muscle tone, quick reflexes, a high pain threshold, and little fear. As for tripping over the toe picks, that's usually because the skate is too long or lack of instruction. Most people will automatically pick up their toes if instructed to stomp their feet. When I see a student allowing the toe to point down, I fix it.
  15. sk8lady

    sk8lady New Member

    I have taught both Basic Skills and rink Learn to Skate classes for a number of years, in both hockey and figure skates, as well as having coached hockey at the Instructional, Mite, and PeeWee levels, and was director of the local youth hockey association's Learn to Play for two years. Some kids struggle in hockey skates. Some don't. Some kids struggle in figure skates. Some don't. I can only remember one kid out of my Learn to Play groups who quit skating and might have been better off in figure skates, and he was not a toddler!

    Each type of skate has advantages and disadvantages so my feeling is a parent shouldn't pick one skate over another because one will be easier, as it may not be true for your child. Hockey skates have more room in the toe box and are very solid and supportive--if my feet are bothering me, I often switch into hockey skates and so does our Basic Skills director. Pick the type of skate because you think the child will enjoy figure skating or hockey, and it will be harder to switch later on. If you don't care, you just want him or her on the ice, ask your local skate supplier what he or she thinks would be good for your child.
  16. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I too have taught LTS and LTP classes and played hockey in addition to being a figure skater and coach. My goal isn't to drive a skater towards one sport over another; it's to teach them how to skate. From there, they can wear any skates they want and do any sport they want.

    I recently had a student spend 15 weeks of skating lessons standing around in his beloved hockey skates because the four-year old couldn't/wouldn't move his feet at all - not even a shuffle! There was no way anyone was going to get him to lift his foot for even a step or stomp.

    I finally convinced the family to just try a pair of rental figure skates and he was gliding by the end of the class and doing small steps/turns by the next. It's silly to waste lesson and ice time because of pride and vanity about Hockey vs. Figure Skating. They're just skates to get them started, it's not like we permanently attach them to the kids' feet.

    I've had students start as tots in figure skates with great success. When they can do a one-foot glide without toppling, they're fine switching over to hockey skates. It only takes a few hours of practice to get used to the shorter, rounded hockey blades.

    For the OP, I stand by my suggestions of starting with puddles, then double runners, and figure skates when he's ready to learn. From there, he can wear anything once he can glide on one foot.
  17. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    You know- I've had lots of problems with older kids tripping over toepicks, but not toddlers- it's just not how most of them move their feet. But the frustration over not being able to stabilize themselves on the toe when getting up means most of the kids in hockey skates take SO much longer to learn to stand up after falling (and they all fall a lot, though I find more in hockey skates- but I fall more in hockey skates too)

    Once the kid has had a few lessons and can stand up easily, I have no problems moving them to hockey skates.
  18. sk8lady

    sk8lady New Member

    That is basically what I am saying--not all kids do better in figure skates. If you are coaching Basic Skills and LTS, you are not teaching kids whose primary interest is hockey. Many of the kids I have coached in youth hockey are very motivated to learn to skate in hockey skates and they do. It is just as silly to insist that EVERYONE learns better in figure skates as it would be to insist that EVERYONE learns better in hockey skates. Everyone is different.
  19. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    Apparently, your hockey league takes beginners, so of course they should wear hockey skates. They don't have a choice. I do think that starting in figure skates is easier, but to each his own. I stand by my recommendation, which is far from silly. It's actually pretty widely accepted as true, except by hockey bigots.

    Every rink I've taught at in the past 15 years has required that Youth Hockey skaters know how to skate before they learn how to play. Something about being able to stand up in order to not use the stick as a dangerous crutch... The purpose of hockey programs is to teach them how to play and handle the equipment while refining their existing skating skills. The Basic 4 level is a prerequisite, so your point about my teaching only figure skaters is invalid: through the lowest levels of LTS/Basic Skills, they're just skaters. I cut the hockey skate wearers some slack on spins and jumps, but not on edges, stops or turns.

    In the toddler classes, it's about 60% hockey to 40% figure skaters. Of those wanna-be hockey players, most start on figure skates and learn the basics before going on to the under-6 Learn to Play hockey program (held at the same time) wearing hockey skates. This is pretty common in the US.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  20. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    In our area we have learn-to-skate/play hockey programs run by hockey associations. It's called Timbits. Here's one example, but many rinks have them now.

    My son learned in hockey-style blades at just shy of four. Not because I had any bias either way, but because that's what I bought him cheap from Lands End. :lol:

    He has in the past skated in figure skates - in fact when he was a mite and having problems with back crossovers I switched him to figure skates and had him get a half dozen private lessons from my figure skating coach. Ever since then he's been very very good at backwards skating, even now that he's in high school. A good thing for a defenseman. :p