Updated: September 8, 2020
If you love boating, you probably want to grab the chance to experience such an adventure with the ones closest to your heart. However, what if there is a new addition to your family? Is it still possible to go boating with a baby?
Going on a boating trip with a newborn is often discouraged but it does not mean you can’t.
Is It Safe to Go Boating with an Infant?
If you’re an active boater, having a baby shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. In truth, it is typically easier to have a baby on a boat than go with a young toddler.
Kids can sometimes misbehave and they can climb and run around the boat. As parents, we’re well aware when your child’s mobility can work against you.
Safety should be your priority when you’re with your baby. With the correct safety precautions, you can have a safe trip with your baby.
Related: Boating While Pregnant (Is It Safe?)
What Authorities Say
According to the US Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety, it’s recommended that an infant not be allowed to be on a boat away from shore unless they weigh at least 18 pounds. It is also the weight recommended for wearing a personal floatation device or PFD, which is an important piece baby boating gear.
Most babies reach 18 pounds when they are between four and 11 months old, which means it’s better to wait till they hit the target weight. Be aware of your state’s laws for child life jacket usage is concerned.
Have the Proper Life Jackets
When the boat is underway, life jackets are a must for every person on the vessel, including the infant. Just like you, a baby on a boat needs a proper infant life jacket or personal floatation device, which is designed to fit an 18-pound baby.
All life jackets for babies have an extra head cushion, which is designed to provide additional protection aside from keeping the child’s head above the water in case of an accident or boat capsizing. They are also rated to automatically turn a baby on their back in case they were to fall in the water.
If you are going boating with a baby, there should be a designated protected area on the boat. When you’ve reached your destination, you will mostly require everyone’s help from docking to dropping the anchor to a rare case, such as an emergency.
But what happens if you only have one or two extra people onboard? It’s usually not possible for anyone to hold and care for your small child. When everyone is busy performing their duties and necessary actions for the situation, a safe area is crucial for your baby.
This part of the boat is where the baby can stay for a while without exposing them to risk of moving or falling. Plan this so as to reduce stress, especially when any of the circumstances above happens.
Infants won’t find it uncomfortable to sleep on a boat, especially because of the gentle rocking of the waters. It will help put them to sleep faster than when you are at home.
Where Can Babies Sleep?
On many boats, a big, comfy cabin makes you think that you can bring your baby’s crib with you. No matter how spacious it may seem, the crib will make it smaller, so you should just leave it at home. Forget about the full-size jogging stroller too as it can definitely shrink your space.
Have a portable baby boat seat where your baby can comfortably stay when you are not holding him/her. An infant carrier is best for this but some babies may prefer a bouncer seat, pack-play, or a portable rocker. Any one of these should be considered as essential boating supplies with a baby on baord.
It doesn’t matter which you choose as long as your baby is happy with it. Note though that these types of baby boat seat, especially a bouncer seat should only be used when on a stable boat – not underway.
You don’t want your little one to feel sick or overheated when you’re too far away from the dock. You can prevent this from happening when you create some shade for your baby. Often, a Bimini boat top will work here to block the sun, while keeping the rest of the boat cool.
Protect Your Baby’s Sensitive Skin
It is not a bad idea to have a sun hat and a beach umbrella, which your baby can use. They can add another layer of protection for your baby, especially for his/her skin.
If possible, go boating during the evenings or early mornings as these times can provide a cooler temperature for the baby. Plus, the waters are smoother, which is an ideal condition when you go boating with an infant.
Have lots of sunscreen ready as well. The young ones are susceptible to sunburn on open waters. The US Food and Drug Administration suggests that you should only use sunscreen on babies who are at least six months old.
When the baby boating gear, life jacket, seat, and other necessary supplies are ready, you can bring your little one with you on your boating trip with these safety tips in mind.