Taking your little one out on a boating trip can be fun for the whole family. However, there are certain steps and precautions one must take before taking their baby out boating.
We’ve compiled some of our best tips for keeping your baby safe and entertained while onboard.
How do you keep babies safe onboard a boat?
Keeping your baby safe onboard your boat starts with your offshore preparations.
- Designate a ‘safe area’ on your boat where you can safely seat the child when all adult hands are needed (such as when you’re docking or in the case of an emergency).
- Invest in a lifejacket for your baby that fits securely.
- Pack the supplies needed for keeping your baby fed, safe, and comfortable during your boating trip.
- Learn essential first aid and have a plan for emergencies.
Once you’re out on the water, the best way to keep your baby safe is to keep a good eye on them at all times. The safest place for you to keep your baby while on a boat is in your arms or seated on your lap. Your baby should be wearing their life vest whenever the boat is in motion.
A large part of keeping your baby safe on board your boat involves keeping a good eye on them at all times. If you can, enlist friends and family to help you take care of your baby during the boating trip.
The extra hands will come in handy during docking, playtime, and in the case of emergencies.
How to keep a baby active on longer boat trips?
There are plenty of ways to involve your baby in fun activities during your boating trip. It’s important for parents to plan ahead for fun things for their baby to do both in and out of the water.
Fun In The Water
One of the most rewarding parts of bringing your baby out for a day on the water is watching them splash around having a good time. Prepare for fun in the water by bringing water toys and floatation devices.
Be sure to take plenty of pictures of your baby enjoying themselves in the water!
Fun On The Boat
Pack some waterproof toys to keep your baby entertained while they’re not in the water. Washable bath markers and bathtime toys make great choices for in the boat activities. Make sure you stick to low mess and simple options to keep playtime on the boat from becoming a hassle.
Remember that it’s unsafe to strap your baby into car seats or nonfloating devices while on a boat.
Make sure your baby has their life jacket on at all times when the boat is in motion, and with younger children, it can be a good idea to keep their life jacket on at all times while on the boat.
At what age can a baby wear a life jacket?
It is better to go by weight rather than by age to determine if your baby can safely wear a life jacket.
The United States Coast Guard recommends that your baby weigh at least 18 pounds to safely wear a life jacket.
Remember that a well-fitting life jacket can save your baby’s life during an emergency. Ensure that your child’s life jacket fits properly before heading out on the water. A well-fitted lifejacket doesn’t slip past the child’s chin or ears and does not require the straps to be pulled as tightly as possible.
Invest in the right life jacket for your baby. There are a variety of different types of life jackets available for babies that include safety features to help keep their heads above water, prevent their legs from slipping out and keep them afloat during emergencies.
Consider purchasing your life jacket in store so you can try the fit on your baby before you buy it.
How do I board a boat with a baby?
Many parents worry about how to safely get their baby on board their boat. Here are two of the ways we’ve discovered that you can use to safely board your boat with your baby:
- While the baby is wearing a secure life jacket, hand the baby to someone already on the boat. Make sure you can carefully hand the baby over the edge without holding the baby over the water for too long.
- Another way is to board the boat yourself while holding onto your baby. Make sure someone is standing nearby to help steady you as you board the boat.
Make sure your boat is stable whenever you’re moving your baby on and off the boat.
Practice getting on and off the boat with your baby several times. Once you’ve safely boarded your boat a few times with your baby, the process will begin to feel just as natural as everything else you do on your boat.
Boating with babies supply list: 5 things you need to bring
There are many supplies you need to bring when you’re boating with your baby. Preparing for a day out boating with your baby means thinking about everything from food to safety.
We’ve compiled a list of the most important things for you to bring with you out on the water.
1) Food and drinks
Since you’ll likely be out on the water for hours, make sure you come stocked with more than enough baby food, water, juice, and snacks to keep your little one well-fed and hydrated. Either purchase prepackaged juices and snacks or pack your own to make snack time a breeze while you’re enjoying the day on your boat.
Low mess foods that can be easily stored away in your cooler include:
- Fruit (sliced and stored in baggies)
- Animal crackers
- Squeezable yogurt or applesauce packets
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- String cheese
- Fruit gummy snacks
Keep in mind that you’ll have a limited amount of space on your boat to store your food and eat it. Bringing a cooler to keep food and drinks fresh and safely stored away is a must with a baby. Designate an area of your boat for snacks to keep all your mess and trash in one area that can easily be cleaned up.
2) Diaper bag necessities
A waterproof diaper bag is extremely useful when boating with a baby. Make sure you pack plenty of towels, baby wipes, waterproof diapers, and an extra set of clothing for your little one. It’s always better to over-prepare when you plan on spending any amount of time away from shore.
Your diaper bag is a good place to tuck away any ‘extras’ you plan on bringing along for baby. Keep the extra pacifier, baby bottle, or emergency teddy bear in your diaper bag where it can be kept safe from both the baby and the water.
3) Sun protection
Babies have a hard time regulating temperature on their own, so it’s important to provide protection from the sun’s heat and its harmful rays. Make sure you always pack sunscreen to protect your baby’s skin. Sunglasses and sun hats are essentials for babies bothered by the sun.
Providing shade is important for keeping your baby cool and out of the sun. If your boat comes equipped with a bimini top, they often provide enough shade to keep your baby happy. If you don’t have a top on your boat, consider bringing a beach umbrella to provide more protection from the sun’s harsh rays.
4) Naptime necessities
If you plan on boating through your baby’s nap time, it’s best that you come prepared. A portable rocker or other portable nap time aid can help you create a safe area to place your baby for nap time. Be prepared to keep a watchful eye on your baby while they nap to keep them safe.
Be sure you bring any naptime essentials such as a favorite blanket or special toy, but be sure to keep them safely tucked away when not in use so you’re not going home with a soggy stuffed pony.
When naptime does roll around, having something from home can make it easier for your baby to fall asleep on the boat.
5) Waterproof toys
A good selection of waterproof toys and baby floats will keep your little one entertained all trip long. Consider all the areas you plan on visiting during your boat trip. Will you be anchored offshore long enough for you to let your baby float in a baby raft tied off to your boat?
Will you be exploring a beach and building a sandcastle?
Bath toys can be a great way to keep your baby entertained both in the water and onboard the boat. Make sure you pick larger toys that will not be easily lost while your baby plays in their baby float or raft.
A sample packing list
Remember that it’s better to overprepare for your boating trip than it is to realize you’ve forgotten something miles from shore.
A sample packing list for a day trip out on the water may look something like this:
- Water and juice
- Snacks (bananas, animal crackers)
- Baby formula
- Diapers and diaper bag
- Towels and blankets
- Beach umbrella
- Portable rocker
- Waterproof toys
- Baby raft
Boating with your baby makes for great family fun
Once you’ve gone out on the water with your baby a few times, you’ll begin to grow more comfortable with boating while you have a little one on board. Learning how to prepare for a boating trip with your baby is one of the most important steps.
Once you’ve gotten preparations down, keeping your baby safe comes down to vigilance and keeping a watchful eye while you’re out on the water. Remember that the safest place for your baby is in your arms and never strapped down into a car seat or rocker.
Depending on how old your baby is, you may need to babyproof your boat.
If your baby is at an age where they’ll be in your arms more often than not, babyproofing your boat may not be necessary. Use your own judgment to determine if your boat needs to be baby-proofed before bringing your little one on board.
Finally, it’s a good idea to plan your boating trip around good weather and times when there will be few other boats out on the water. The ideal conditions for a baby’s first boating trip is a clear and sunny day. That way, not only will they have the most fun, you’ll also be able to take the best pictures to remember the trip!
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.