Kayaking is one outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, including children. Aside from being an amazing health-boosting exercise, it is also a great way for parents to help their kids develop an appreciation for our water resources and the natural environment in general. Importantly, kayaking with kids allows parents to spend some quality time with their children.
A kayaking trip with your kids can be a great bonding experience. And if this is the first time you will be heading out to the water with them, here are some tips to help you make your adventure together safe, fun, and memorable.
Safety should always be your number one priority whenever you go kayaking with a baby. Here are a few things you can do to keep everyone out of harm’s way while paddling on the water:
1. Gain Some Experience
Your trip will be much safer if you already have considerable experience with the water world. If you have been kayaking for a while, then your knowledge and skills will come in handy while you and your kids are in the water. On the other hand, if both you and your kids are first-time kayakers, then you may want to consider a guided kayak trip.
2. Take Swimming and Kayaking Lessons
Make sure your kids know how to swim before you introduce them to kayaking. Consider enrolling them in a swimming class. It would also be a good idea to sign them up for kayaking lessons if there are any available in or near your neighborhood.
3. Set Some Rules
Safety rules like no standing, no jumping, no leaning on the gunwales, etc. will help ride a kayak with kids safely. Others like “Don’t throw food wrappers or water bottles in the water” help promote responsibility and concern for the environment. Also, make the rules clear and simple so your kids don’t easily forget them.
4. Check the Local Weather
Find out how the atmospheric conditions will be like on the day of the trip and plan effectively. If the weather is showing signs of getting ugly, it would be best to cancel the trip. Yes, it can be disappointing to have to cancel a long-anticipated trip, but it is also very unlikely that your kids will be grateful to you for dragging them out for a paddle in awful weather.
5. Carry Sun Protection
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can be very harmful to children and can lead to serious health problems, so be sure you are taking the right precautions. For instance, show your kids how to apply sunscreen correctly and remind them to do so before hopping into the kayak. Dressing them in sun-protective clothing could also go a long way in keeping them shielded from harmful UV rays.
6. Bring Safety Gear
Whether they have prior swimming experience or not, kayaking kids should always wear the appropriate safety gear before entering the water. A life vest/Personal Floating Device (PFD) would be a great place to start.
Child-specific PFDs and life jackets designed for kayaking have padded head support to keep the little ones’ heads above the water and a grab handle to assist in retrieving them from the water. Some even have a crotch strap to keep the PFD from riding up.
How To Choose a Safe Spot for Kayaking With Kids
Not sure where to go paddling? Here are some tips to help you choose a destination that is safe for kayaking with kids.
1. Go for calm waters
Spots with calm waters and minimal currents like large ponds, small lakes, or slow rivers would be great destinations for parents with kids who are just getting started with kayaking. Not only are these areas safe, but also perfect for kids to learn and develop their paddling skills.
2. Avoid High-traffic Waterways
Stay away from places with high boat traffic. For instance, large lakes may have relatively calm waters; however, these are also a favorite destination for jet skiers and motorboat enthusiasts. And a whizzing motorboat will cause waves in the water, making it less safe for your kids.
3. Consider Places With Picnic Spots
When kayaking with toddlers and older kids, it would also be great to consider destinations that have good picnic spots. At some point, your kids will get tired of being in the water and will want to go onshore for a break. So look for lakes with a beach that offers good swimming, or a slow river where you can all indulge in some good old-fashioned river play.
4. Involve the Kids in Planning
Have your older kids help you choose your kayaking destination. Bring out an illustrated map and guidebooks and go through it together. Involving your kids in the planning will make them more excited about the coming trip.
If you’re having trouble finding a kid-friendly kayaking destination, talk to experienced kayakers or kayaking schools in your locality or nearby neighborhoods. You may also want to do some research on the different local waterparks near you.
Invest In the Right Yak
If your kids are old enough and quick to learn, you may consider giving them their kayaks to paddle. On the other hand, younger children who have never paddled before or aren’t grown enough to ride a child kayak should be paddling with you on your kayak.
But what’s the best type to go for when you kayak with a toddler?
A tandem kayak!
Why you may ask?
Tandem kayaks are designed to hold two persons at the same time. Yes, they are originally intended to hold two adults, but you see, there is no rule saying that they can’t hold children as well. Because of their large size, tandem kayaks are very stable and can handle wriggling kids very well.
These days, you can even find a tandem kayak with a child seat at the cockpit for parents with younger kids. In such a setup, the parent sits at the rear cockpit while the child sits in the front cockpit. There are several reasons this design is preferred:
- The parent will be much more effective in paddling and steering the kayak from behind.
- It will be easier for the parent to keep an eye on their kid.
- It provides the parent with a better view of their kayaking route.
Pack the Essentials
You may be tempted to carry a lot of things for your kayaking trip, but it is advised that you bring only what is important, and perhaps a little something else to make the trip more enjoyable. Your essentials should include:
Consider bringing healthy and easy-to-eat kinds of food. For instance, you can substitute chips with fresh fruits like apples or vegetables like carrot sticks. Energy giving snacks like Nutri-bars and cookies would also be great to bring on board.
Continuous paddling and exposure to the sun will certainly make you and your kids thirstier than usual, so bring lots of drinking water to keep yourself hydrated. You may want to avoid bringing energy drinks unless you are okay with your kids drinking them.
First Aid Kit
Despite all the precautions you may have taken, accidents may still happen. Maybe your son bruised himself when he fell while running around the riverbank. Perhaps your daughter cut herself while playing with a sharp shell she found in the sand. In any case, you will want to be prepared with a first aid kit in the event such unfortunate incidents do happen.
Aside from the above essentials, you can pack along several other items to make your trip more enjoyable like the following:
- A pair of binoculars for bird and wildlife watching
- Drawing pad and pens for the little artist in your kayak
- Toys to keep your kids busy when they get tired of kayaking
- A waterproof camera to capture the moment
- Ziplocs and dry bags for your phones, extra clothes, and other things you don’t want to get wet
While on the Water
Congratulations! You are all set for a day of kayaking with kids. But before you do, here are some more parenting tips to keep in mind:
- Praise your kids’ efforts when they show good paddling skills or obey the rules
- Don’t criticize their actions unless they compromise safety
- Take lots of breaks and soak up the scenery
- Provide kayaking tips and paddling demonstration
Globo Surf Overview
Kayaking with kids can be both a happy experience and a hectic one. There will be amazing moments and there will be some instances where you will want to hit yourself with the paddle for bringing them along. But it’s moments like these that help strengthen the bond between a parent and a child. Following the guide above will help ensure your kayaking trip with kids is fun and safe. And for sure, when you get back home, your kid will have an epic adventure story to tell their friends.
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- CPR for Children, kidshealth.org