Kayaking with a Baby

Kayaking with a Baby (important practical & safety tips)

Kayaking is a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors and a great way to stay active. Some parents wonder whether they can bring their baby kayaking. But having a baby in your kayak complicates your outing. There are important safety concerns to be aware of and prepare for before you try kayaking with a baby.

In this article, I’ll discuss the safety concerns of taking your baby kayaking. I will also talk about what type of kayak to use when going out with your child, as well as some tips on how to enjoy kayaking with your baby or young child.

When Can I Bring My Baby Kayaking?

No child that cannot fit into a life jacket properly should be on a kayak with you.

It’s much more dangerous to take an infant or child under the age of 2 out on the water than it is to take an older child.

When Can I Bring My Baby Kayaking

It’s best to wait until your child is at least 2 years old before you bring them on a kayak. You should use a tandem kayak.

When they are older, around 7 to 10 years old, your kids can begin learning how to paddle a solo kayak. This is only with your supervision, of course.

Remember, safety first!

Here are the U.S. Coast Guard rules for kayaking with kids:

  • Kids must be able to sit still
  • The child should weigh a minimum of 18 pounds
  • They must wear a properly fitted life jacket
  • Kids should be able to float on water

Getting Started – Tips for Kayaking with your Baby

Now you know how old your child should be before setting out on the water. Let’s take a look at some great tips that are sure to help you and your child enjoy your kayaking experience.

Selecting your location

When starting with your kids, you want to make their earliest memories of kayaking enjoyable and soothing. Make sure you pick calm waters when you take them out.

Tips for Kayaking with Your Baby

You should pick flatwater locations such as ponds and lakes where there are no strong currents or waves. Look for sites that prohibit the use of vessels that are non-human powered.

As your child grows older, you can safely try out other locations.

Try not to pick remote spots when setting out with your child. That would make it difficult to find help in case of an emergency.

Pick areas that are frequently visited where you can come across other kayakers.

It is also crucial that you familiarize yourself with your intended location. Make sure you have information about the current, and any danger you and your child might encounter.

PFDs Must Be Properly Fitted

Safety is essential while you’re out on the water. Make sure you have the right-sized PFD for your child and have them wear it at all times.

Personal Floatation Devices for Kids

Many children are reluctant to keep their life jackets on initially. They’ll tug at it and try to take it off.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to help them understand that they need the jacket to keep them safe. In many states, wearing a life jacket is the law for kids. Keep an eye on them so they do not sneakily take it off when you’re not watching.

When purchasing a PFD for your child, pick a bright and easy-to-spot color. Bright colors can be a lifesaver if your child falls into the water. Infant life jackets have a pillow-like float behind the head area to keep the child upright in the water.

The right PFD for infants is sized 8 – 30 pounds, and 30 – 50 pounds for children. Your child’s life jacket must fit because kids can easily fall out of oversized PFDs. This is crucial.

Tip – Avoid tethering your child to the kayak so that they can get out quickly enough in the event of an accident. If you are worried about your child being unable to sit still, they probably shouldn’t be out on the water.

The Life Jacket I Use and Recommend

In most states, wearing a life jacket or PFD is the law when you’re out on the water.

If you’re like me, you want a safe, effective PFD that doesn’t limit your range of movement when paddling. That’s why I highly recommend this one from Onyx. 

It offers great range of motion, can keep me afloat in the water (I’m 6’2″), and it is very comfortable.

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Use a Kayak Child Seat

You’ll need an appropriately sized kayak child seat if you want to take a baby out on the water. And you must know how to use it correctly!

Kayak Child Seat

Ask experts at a local kayak store to get more information. Kayak child seats come in different sizes for infants, children, and youth.

Set Rules!

As with everything else that concerns children, you need to have rules. Let them know what they can and cannot do while out on the water.

Some rules you should set for your kids include:

  • Keep your life jacket on at all times
  • Sit still while on the water
  • No standing or jumping while in the kayak
  • Do not lean or reach out of the kayak

What Type of Kayak Should You Use?

The type of kayak to use depends on your child’s age. For kids younger than 7, a tandem kayak is ideal. You cannot trust them enough to manage kayaking themselves, so have them come along with you.

Kayaks for Kids

For really young children under the age of 5, you should purchase a seat to keep them strapped in. Your children should always be in front of you so that you can keep an eye on them.

Older kids, over the age of 7, can try a solo kayak, but only after they’ve had lessons and lots of practice. However, you must ensure that they never set out alone or without an adult responsible for them.

How to Enjoy Kayaking with your Baby

The secret to enjoying your day on the water with your child is making sure they remain in a good mood. Here are a few tips to help you keep your baby comfortable and help them enjoy their earliest kayaking experiences.

Pick a day with comfortable weather

Children get frustrated and irritated easily. Little things such as sweltering weather can cause them to become grumpy and throw tantrums. For you and your baby to enjoy kayaking, they need to stay in a good mood.

Kayaking with a Child

Pick a day with temperate weather. Make sure you dress them for the weather so they feel comfortable in their clothes. If the weather is hot, you can bring a change of clothes along with you to make sure the kids are comfortable.

Calm waters

When taking your children out for the first time, paddling against strong waves or any currents is not the best idea. Pick a location where the water is static.

Short Trips Are More Enjoyable

You don’t want your child getting cranky from exhaustion when you are out kayaking. Start slow, gradually introducing your child to kayaking.

Pick short routes that have a lot of sights to see. While on the trip, make stops for your baby to potty, have a quick snack, or take in the scenery.

Take plenty of breaks

Pick spots where you are sure to see much wildlife and can make stops for sightseeing, or even just potty breaks. Don’t forget to grab a pair of diapers or two in case they need a change. You can even pack an extra set of clothes to make sure they remain comfortable.

Teaching Kids How to Kayak

Bring snacks

Kids can get dehydrated and hungry quickly. Pack a lot of juice, water, baby bottles, and even milk for your children. Bring a cooler with you to prevent the drinks from getting warm. It would help if you also grabbed their favorite snacks, so they have something to nibble on when they get hungry.

Kayaking With a Baby is Fun with Proper Prep

Kayaking with your kids should be a fun family adventure. Make sure your kids are relaxed so they can have the time of their lives. You can take a camera along with you to capture all the great moments and make beautiful memories.

Just remember to stay focused – if you have a baby with you out on the water your first priority is their safety.