top of page

Tips for Boating with Kids!

Grab your littles ones and take them on a boat trip! Boating is a great way to connect with your children and treat them to a special experience. Here are some tips to make sure everyone has fun and that there are a lot more laughs than tears.

1. Safety first! This couldn't be more true in boating.

  • Prepare you kids ahead of time to listen to the captain or person in charge of driving the boat.

  • A hired captain will give a safety speech before the boat departs.

  • Let your kids know they should listen to the captain throughout the whole trip.

2. Life Jackets are a very necessary part of boating with kids.

Chicago kid jumping into Lake Michigan water

  • The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all children 13 and younger wear a PFD (personal floatation device) at all times while aboard a boat. The life jacket must be USCG certified, so make sure you check the tags for certification.

  • Most rental boats and boat owners have child-sized life jackets but you'll want to check ahead of time to make sure they have ones that will appropriately fit your children. There are three different sizes:

    • Infant: 8lb - 30 lb

    • Child: 30lb - 50 lb

    • Youth: 50lb - 90 lb

  • If you're going to take children boating regularly, it's a great idea to purchase a life jacket that your child can try on ahead of time and get comfortable with. This is especially true with infants and babies. When it comes to comfort, one of the best life jacket brands is Stohlquist. The neckline has a pretty deep V to prevent chafing at the neck. The foam on the back is minimal making it easier to hold the child.

3. Sun Protection

  • Aerosol spray sunscreens are so convenient, especially for kids, BUT they really shouldn't be used when boating. There is a chemical in the propellant that turns the boat seat vinyl blue. A great alternative is a non-aerosol spray like Sun Bum's Baby Bum suncreen.

  • Hats and sunglasses are also a must. It's easy to lose hats to the wind and sunglasses to the water so hat chin straps and sunglass straps are a great idea. This sun hat from Camptrace seems to work particularly well. The material is like a swimsuit so it dries quickly and feels lightweight even though there is a lot of coverage for the face, neck and ears. The adjustability around the back of the head and around the neck add to the comfort.

4. Snacks and fluids

  • Bring more water and fluids than you think you'll need. It's always a surprise how much more water we all need when out on the water and in the sun.

  • Pack food in individual serving containers or baggies. With the movement of the boat this will make it easier to hand out snacks to the kids as they want them. And, you'll avoid losing a bunch of food to the floor when it all slides off the table :)

  • Some favorite boat snacks are: hummus & veggies, PB&J or egg salad sandwiches, guacamole & chips, string cheese or cheese slices, pre-cut fruit. You'll definitely want to avoid any food that is particularly stick or likely to stain the boat since some food will inevitably end up on the seats and floor.

5. Bring some comfort items

Baby laying on a boat with life jacket on

  • Boating is an incredibly fun activity but it can be exhausting for little ones.

  • They might want lounge quietly and even shut their eyes for a bit. The motion of the boat may end up lulling them to sleep.

  • Think about bringing a blanket, soft hoodie, lovey or whatever is a comfort item for you child to help them relax while enjoying the boat ride.

  • If you plan to go swimming, make sure to bring warm clothes and towels. After swimming they will probably feel cold, even on a warm and sunny day.

6. Have fun!

  • With all the preparation and thought put into the trip, you should be able to let loose and relax a little. If boating is a new experience for your children it will help calm their nerves if they see you having fun.

  • Whether you're jumping in the water, showing your kids the shoreline or teaching them about the parts of a boat, your children will learn a lot. It will be a day they remember!

Mom with her daughters smiling on a boat

40 views0 comments


bottom of page