One of the best ways to experience paddle boarding is with your children. One question that gets asked a lot is whether or not you can bring babies and toddlers on board with you. For some, the surprising answer is, of course!
If you practice proper safety, bring along the right gear, and adequately prepare, you can absolutely paddleboard with a baby. As a parent who’s taken all my children paddle boarding, its a family activity I totally recommend.
Although It’s one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities to do with your kids, it can also be understandably dangerous. However, with the right tools, you too can get paddling with your little one.
Today, I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks so that you and your little one stay safe while out on the water.
TIP: If you have an older child, read our children’s paddle board reviews to get him or her a board of their own.
How to Paddle Board With a Baby
The key to successfully paddle boarding with a baby is proper preparation (as Well as proper safety, but that goes without saying). It’s not just bringing along the right gear, but familiarizing your little one with this new experience.
Anyone with a baby will tell you that babies get bored pretty quickly and will want to get up and move around. When you’re in the middle of a body of water, that’s not necessarily something your little one can do. Here are some tips to help prepare you for when you go out onto the paddle board.
Practice With a Kayak First
Being out on the water will be a new experience for your baby. Although they’re still babies, they can recognize when their environment has changed. More often than not, they will want to interact with that environment.
Immerse your child into an environment of open water by practicing with a kayak first. When you kayak with your baby, you will get a sense of their temperament while on the water. This is also a great way for them to explore the water in a rather contained watercraft.
When you take your little one out on a kayak, don’t get them too comfortable putting their hands over the edge. This will encourage them to want to do the same when they are on a paddleboard, a habit you want to avoid.
Young Kids Need a Proper Life Vest
Safety is key when you do anything with children. When you take your baby with you on your paddle board, it is critical that they wear a proper life vest. In the event of an accident, you can be sure that your child will not have any issues staying afloat.
Getting your little one to wear their jacket can be a chore in itself. The best way to help them is by having them wear their life jacket around the house or during playtime. This will help them get acclimated to the way it feels.
Go Out for a Short Paddle Boarding Test Run
When you’re ready to go out into the water, plan for a short test run. You can do a test run on a calm body of water or even in a swimming pool if you’re able to.
The test run will allow you to see whether or not your baby is ready to handle a full-fledged trip out on the paddleboard. Even when you do go out on the paddleboard, keep the adventure rather short because your little one will get tired pretty quickly.
Bring Snacks and Toys
Snacks and toys are a must when you go out paddle boarding with young kids. When your baby starts to get bored, and this will happen, toys are a great distraction.
Pro tip: just be sure to strap toys onto the board. If your little one starts getting fussy, snacks and drinks can also help settle their temperament.
Can You Paddle Board with a Toddler?
Going out paddle boarding with a toddler tends to be a little bit more fun than with a baby. Toddlers are older and can actually interact with you and their environment. Plus, as an adult, it’s really neat seeing your little one enjoy this unique experience.
As with babies, however, you still need to practice proper safety and prep in order to have a successful run on the paddle board.
Pick the Proper Paddle Board When Paddling With Children
Picking the right paddle board is key when you’re taking a child paddle boarding with you. There are some features that you should look for in a good multi-person paddle board.
Stability is Key
The last thing you need is to worry about staying balanced and afloat when you have a little one. Help yourself out by picking a very stable paddle board. Use a wide table paddle board that you have familiarity with. The wide deck and blunted nose and tail will allow you to have better balance and stability.
Understand Weight Capacity
Make sure that you’re using a paddle board that is rated appropriately for your size. Calculate your weight, along with your child’s weight, and any other gear that you’re going to bring along with you.
The combined weight should be lower than the weight capacity of the paddle board you use, and note that how heavy you load the board will affect its performance. You May find an overloaded board sluggish, slow or hard to maneuver.
Mark Your Child’s Seat
With a young child, it can be helpful to mark a “seat” on the deck using waterproof tape. This will give your child a visual “safe space” to sit when you start paddle boarding. As you paddle, having your kid in a set place will also allow you to maintain a proper balance point as well.
Practice Proper Safety
Practicing proper safety is key to having a safe and comfortable paddle boarding experience when you take a child paddleboarding with you. Here are some important safety tips every paddle boarder should implement.
Use the Proper Life Vest for Your Baby or Toddler
We’ve mentioned the importance of having your child wear a properly fitted life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard suggests using a type II life jacket with your infant. This type of personal flotation device offers a neck support so that if your child does fall into the water they will be turned automatically into an upright position.
Paddle in Shallow Waters
Always go out in shallow water when you bring kids with you on your paddle boarding adventures. In the event of an emergency situation, you’ll want to be able to stand up in the water so that you can help your child.
Avoid rivers and rough waters. Instead, opt for small lakes where there is calm water and fewer waves.
Protect your little one from the elements as well. Use a High factor, UVA and UVB waterproof sunscreen on all exposed areas of your child’s body. You can also have them wear a hat or long-sleeved swimwear for sun protection as well.
It can be intimidating to take your baby or toddler out on the water with you. The reality is, if you practice basic safety tips and use common sense, you can have a safe and enjoyable time out on the water.
If you have ever taken young children out paddle boarding with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. What tips and tricks work for you when taking little kids paddleboarding? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.