Tips for Boating with your Little
While boating with a group of friends is a great time, boating with a baby can be a fun time too... I promise! The loud music might be a little quieter and of a different caliber, and the beverages might be in a box rather than a bottle, but the fun is all the same. If you are planning to go boating with your little one(s), check out my helpful hints and the mom hacks that I’ve found to be helpful on our boating trips!
The US Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety recommends that infants should not travel aboard a boat until they weigh at least 18 pounds - that puts your child usually somewhere between 4-11 months old. That being said, bringing a younger baby on a docked or anchored boat, or a boat that is traveling below the wake speed, might be something some parents consider to get them used to the feeling of being on a boat at a younger age.
Here is my list of DON’T FORGET items:
LIFE JACKET -The #1 most important rule when boating with children is to make sure you have them in a size appropriate and weight appropriate life jacket at all times. If you are boating in the United States, a US Coast Guard Approved life jacket is required. Life jackets take some getting used to - especially for babies and small toddlers. They are bulky, hot to wear in the sun, and can restrict their movements. The littlest Littles may not even be able to touch their hands together. Poor little guys! Sometimes safety isn’t very convenient, even though it always needs to be a priority. Try on several different ones when shopping for a life jacket to find one that is as comfortable as possible. Getting your children used to the feeling of being in a life jacket at a young age makes future boating endeavors run more smoothly - and don’t worry, this stage of childhood doesn’t last forever. As they get bigger the life jackets get more comfortable and the kids care more about having fun in the water than anything else.
NEVER strap a baby into a car seat or carrier in a boat. Not only does it make putting a life jacket on impossible, but the seats don’t float. It would be disastrous if something happened and your baby somehow ended up in the water. We even unstrap our kids from their car seats when they are in our vehicle when we are launching the boat at the boat ramp - just to be cautious.
SUNSCREEN - Do not forget sunscreen for your child(ren) and for you! Remember, you will be out on the open water which will amplify the UV rays. Sunscreen is a MUST while boating - make sure to apply it 30 minutes before entering the sun and don’t forget to reapply at least every two hours or each time you get out of the water.
TOWELS - If you are planning to take a dip in the water, don’t forget to bring towels with you! They come in handy to dry wet feet coming in from the water to avoid any possible slipping on the boat. Also, if I’m being real with all of you - they come in handy for so many other things. Like a cushion between your child and a potentially hot boat seat. Or something to wipe dirty faces and/or hands. They can also double as a blanket if your child starts to get sleepy and wants to take a nap, or the sun starts to set and your Little one starts to get chilly.
SNACKS - Hunger will turn your Little boater from a fish into a shark so having easily accessible snacks is a must. Something that’s easy to eat makes it more likely that your little one will stop to eat - apple slices, goldfish, veggie straws, sandwiches.
WATER / JUICE - Remind your kids to drink while they are having all the fun. The sun will be hot and you don’t want them to get dehydrated! Mini water bottles and juice boxes are my go-to’s, especially since juice boxes aren’t something that we normally keep in our house. So having a drink option that might be a treat to them is a win.
SWIM DIAPER - If your little one is planning on going into the water, a swim diaper is a must! I’m sure you can imagine, or you have seen it happen, when a parent forgets a swim diaper and tries to use a regular diaper. Regular diapers are made to absorb liquids, so as soon as that child gets into the water, their diaper will fill as it absorbs all the water, and become a huge saggy diaper. A swim diaper doesn’t absorb liquids, making it a much better option for being in the water. A Beau and Belle Littles Public Service Announcement! Remember to put on a regular diaper while hanging out on board so you don’t have any unexpected puddles to clean up!
RASH GUARD - A rash guard is also a great option for added sun protection for your Little one’s fresh and delicate skin. Rash guards allow them the extra sun protection that is necessary to keep their skin from burning, as well as offering a breathable material so they do not overheat in the warm temperatures.
ICE - Hear me out. You’ll probably want it in your cooler anyways to keep your drinks cold. For a feisty baby or toddler with a short attention span ice is also a surprising, cheap, and unexpected diversion! We’ve discovered that my daughter loves being ‘allowed’ to throw ice into the water. She pretends she’s feeding the fish and the birds, and since it’s something she doesn’t normally get to do, it keeps her occupied. It is perfect because it doesn’t pollute the water, harm the fish, or require you to go into the water to retrieve it! Plus, if she decides to eat a little bit of crushed ice in the process, she’s working on hydrating herself without even knowing it!
TOYS - Make sure they float! A lot of boating time is spent onboard the boat so bring some things your Little can play with in a small space - a space that is small enough that one good chuck can send a toy overboard! Toys that float are your best bet!
And there you have it, my suggestions on what to bring with you while you are boating with a baby or children to avoid meltdowns and sunburns. Like I said earlier, the music and drinks may be different than your younger days, and the age of your fellow passengers may be significantly younger as well, but you can’t beat the company or the memories that are being made!
Author: Katie Quataert