In fact, just the opposite: when they’re young is the best time to sow the seeds for a lifetime of boating enjoyment.
Yes, boating with a baby has its challenges, and it can be even more challenging with a mobile toddler. But there are steps you can take to make sure your kids not only stay safe onboard a boat, but have a great time.
Here are a few tips to follow:
Have a properly fitting lifejacket. Wait until your children are at least 18 pounds to take them boating, as that is how big the Coast Guard says they need to be for a baby’s lifejacket to fit properly (any younger than that, and you’ll be more worried about catching up on sleep anyway). When on a boat, make sure they are always wearing a lifejacket, and never put them in any non-floating device.
Childproof your boat. Just like at home, you need to make sure the surroundings are as kid-friendly as possible. Stow away anything that is breakable or might be dangerous to your child.
Start small. Keep your first few boating excursions with your baby or toddler short, as you can’t be sure how they will react. If they have a meltdown, it might be best for everyone’s sanity to end the trip quickly. Also, you don’t want them to be left with a negative impression of boating. Start small so they begin to enjoy it, then slowly extend your adventures.
Have a safe place. Set aside an area where you can put your little ones down without the risk of them going overboard. It’s also a good idea to have an area where they can take a nap.
Protect them from the sun. Babies and toddlers have sensitive skin, so it’s extremely important to protect them from the sun. Use strong sunscreen and reapply it frequently. Also, have a shaded area where they can get out of the sun for a while.
Bring supplies. Be sure to pack all the gear you need, plus extra. Don’t forget to pack food, juice, formula, diapers, wipes, extra clothes and sunscreen.
Let them have fun. Make sure your babies and toddlers get a chance to enjoy the fun parts of boating. Have a picnic on an island or beach. Allow them some time to play in the water. Keep them from getting bored by bringing along toys, paper and crayons.