Nothing beats getting out on the water and making memories that last a lifetime with those you love. When a child enters the family, it makes sense that you want to start sharing those special times with them too! As you can imagine, there are definitely some challenges involved with bringing your toddler on board, but with a few tips and tricks, and a positive attitude, you can start creating those everlasting memories!
1. Life Jackets Make sure your child wears a life jacket that is approved by the U.S Coast Guard. There are life jackets available specifically for toddlers (weight between 30-50lbs) with an age-appropriate design. Look for special safety features such as a grab handle, neon color so they are easy to spot, or a strap between the legs. Life jackets only work if they are worn, so make sure your toddler keeps it on!
TIP: Make the life jacket a “very special” boating-only experience and introduce it prior to a first outing. Make sure that the fit is right so it is both safe and comfortable to wear.
2. “Childproof” Your Boat Just as you would when visiting someone else’s house, make sure to stow anything that is loose, dangerous or fragile. Don’t leave ropes lying around that make it easy to trip. It is also a smart idea to designate a comfortable “safe zone” where you know your child will remain in safety if you need all hands on deck to help with anchoring, docking, etc.
3. Bring Plenty of Supplies Don’t forget to bring plenty of the necessities: water, snacks, juice, your diaper bag, sunscreen, wipes, a change of clothes. Bring more than you think you might need…It is better to have too much than not enough!
4. Establish Rules Just like anywhere else you go with a toddler, having specific rules in place while on the boat is key. Remind them to stay seated while the boat is moving; never to hang their feet off the boat; stay quiet during the docking process, etc. Expect that they will act the same way they do at home.
5. Plan for Fun! Bring along plenty of games, toys, books, and fun things to do on the boat! Your toddler might not be as entertained by the beautiful homes or dazzling water as you are!
6. Avoid Too Much Sun Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and provide shade while on board. Too much sun can lead to dehydration, sunburn, fatigue and a cranky child. Also consider decking them out in a hat, sunglasses, and UPF clothing.
Safety is key to boating with your toddler. Once you have established clear rules and are prepared for your day out, the most important thing to do is have fun! Spending the day searching for marine wildlife, enjoying nature, swimming, splashing and playing in the sand will create special memories everyone will cherish!