Boat trips are always exciting for children – sometimes even more so than for their parents, guardians, and elders. But while many people love the idea of taking their children boating, some worry that it may not be safe for them. However, the safety and well-being of children – even babies and toddlers – can very easily be maintained with a few basic principles out on the water. Here are five tips for boating with children.
Before you even get to the dock, put life jackets on any infants accompanying you. It is advisable to have life jackets on all children regardless of age, especially if you’re sailing at high tide or through particularly lively waters. For older kids, don’t fret too much about it as long as they can swim capably – older kids generally only need life jackets if you hit choppy waters, are very distant from land, or you run into inclement weather.
For infants and toddlers, take a Pack N’ Play or something similar on board with you if you need to put your infant down either for a nap or if you need your hands free to tend to on-board tasks. Secure the play area so it doesn’t slide around or fall over out on the water, supply it with some toys, a blanket, and a pillow, and you’ll be home free. Older children can help you attend to the tasks of the boat, and also keep an eye on any of the younger children out on the water.
Even on holiday, it’s important to keep kids on a regular schedule. If you typically let your kids stay up a bit later on vacations or weekends, by all means, continue to do so – but keep bedtimes and mealtimes regular so children can maintain some sense of routine and family equilibrium. If they usually do chores on a daily basis, assign them easy tasks on board the boat that they can handle in lieu of their typical chores, including keeping the cabin neat and the dishes washed.
The skin of young children is much more delicate than that of adults’, and very young children will be more prone to heat sickness and nausea than adults as well. Create shade on the boat for children to play under so they don’t get sick by spending the entire day under the hot sun, which can easily done by a Bimini or similar attachment to keep sunlight off. Make sure your children are equipped with sunhats and other protective wear, and have them wear plenty of sunscreen, particularly if they have very fair skin.
Pack Supplies Carefully
You don’t want to overpack on any boat trip, but make sure you pack carefully to make sure your children have everything they need – waterproof diapers and a waterproof diaper bag, baby food and formula, plenty of food and water, pacifiers, and toys. Make sure you have a well-equipped first aid kit as well, with not only the requisite items for wound and sprain treatment but fever reducer in case they should fall ill and sunburn gel in case of a burn.
Taking your children out on the water will be a thrilling experience for them and for you. As they become acclimated to travel by boat, you’ll find ready shipmates, lots of laughter, and memories that will last your family a lifetime.