So you’ve welcomed a bouncing bundle of joy to your family, congrats! While adjusting to your new life at home, you may wonder whether you can also adapt your life on the water accordingly. The good news is, yes! Whether you or someone else owns the boat, here’s how to make boating with a baby a happy, memorable, and safe experience:
- Stock the proper-size life jacket
- Hold your child while wearing your life jacket
- Leave operating to someone else (when possible)
- Designate a safe nap space
- Create shade
- Childproof the vessel
- Pack supplies
- Have fun!
Raise even the youngest among the next generation of boating lovers safely with these tips.
1. Stock the proper-size life jacket
Federal law requires all children under the age of 13 to wear a personal flotation device (PFD). The U.S. Coast Guard warns infants to weigh at least 18 pounds to ensure a PFD fits properly.
While a car seat might seem like a good solution, it’s too heavy to float if your boat suddenly capsizes. Either you or someone else should always hold your baby. Additionally, you or the other baby wrangler should wear a PFD. This way, you’ll each be better off if an accident does occur.
3. Leave operating to someone else (when possible)
Holding your child makes it a challenge to take the wheel or help dock stress-free or safely. Boating with a baby, therefore, is better when one of you holds your child and another person manages boat-handling tasks. If extra people aren’t an option, then designate a safe place on board to lay down your infant for the moments you need to take action.
4. Designate a safe nap space
There’s no need to disrupt your little one’s napping routine while on the water. Instead, try to arrange your outings to coincide with his or her typical nap time. Create an area inside the 5. Create shade
Boating with a baby requires childproofing the same way it does in your house. Keep fish hooks and other sharp objects out of reach. The same goes for boat soap, fuel cans, and system-related fluids. Be mindful of chains, ropes, fishing 7. Pack supplies
Create a “boat diaper bag,” packed with bottles, binkies, extra clothes, wet wipes, and of course, diapers. Further, consider adding a new waterproof toy or two to your boat-only bag. This way, if they fling it and it goes overboard (and you know it will), it doesn’t get ruined the way their favorite stuffed animal could.
8. Have fun!
Boating with a baby can be even more enjoyable because you get to see the marine world through their eyes. Splash in the shallow water, stroll on the sand, and point out fish and wildlife. Their giggles, oohs, and aahs will remain in your memory banks forever.
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A journalist with more than 30 years’ experience, Diane M. Byrne is the owner
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She founded the website in 2007 as the first, and still the only, American-focused online media
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