Kayaking With An Infant: Dos and Don’ts [Parent’s Guide]

If you love the outdoors and enjoy being on the water, you might be excited about the idea of taking your baby on a kayaking adventure. Kayaking with an infant can be a stimulating sensory development activity, as they are surrounded by new sights, sounds, and sensations. 

The gentle rocking of the kayak can even help them take a peaceful nap while you paddle in calm waters. However, safety is the most important consideration. That’s why it’s crucial to plan carefully and follow specific guidelines.

In this comprehensive guide for parents, we’ll explore what you should and shouldn’t do when kayaking with your baby. We’ll provide essential safety tips and recommend suitable equipment for different age groups. 

Our goal is to help you have memorable and worry-free family kayaking experiences while ensuring your baby’s safety and comfort on the water.

Let’s dive in.

Kayaking with an Infant

Determining the Appropriate Age for Kayaking with an Infant

One of the most important factors to consider is their age. The safety and well-being of your little one should always be the top priority. But how do you determine the appropriate age for kayaking with an infant? Let’s find out!

Consult a pediatrician for guidance

Consulting your pediatrician is crucial. These experts can give you advice that’s just right for your baby’s unique needs and growth. Before you go on any water trip, talk to them to make sure it’s safe for your little one to go kayaking.

Age recommendation for kayaking with an infant.

There’s no strict rule about when babies can go kayaking, but most experts suggest waiting until they’re at least six months old. By this time, most babies can hold their heads up and sit better in a kayak. Plus, it gives their immune systems a chance to get stronger, which lowers the risk of them getting sick.

Consider the infant’s neck strength and ability to sit up

Each child grows differently, so it’s crucial to check if your baby is ready for kayaking. Make sure they can hold their head up well by themselves without help. They should also be able to sit up on their own or with just a little help, as this will keep them comfy and safe during the kayak trip.

When considering whether or not your toddler is ready for kayaking adventures, keep these key points in mind:

  • Neck Strength: Make sure they can hold their head up without wobbling.
  • Sitting Skills: Check if they can sit upright without toppling over.
  • Comfort Level: Gauge how well they handle different environments (e.g., noise, motion).
  • Health Considerations: Take into account any medical conditions or sensitivities your child may have.

10 Dos and Don’ts For Kayaking With An Infant

Dos and Don'ts For Kayaking With An Infant

Kayaking with your family, even your baby, can be a super fun adventure. But, when it’s about kayaking with a baby, there are some important safety rules and tips you should follow to keep them safe and happy. In this article, we will explore ten dos and don’ts for kayaking with an infant.

Let’s explore the ten dos and don’ts of kayaking with an infant:

#1. Don’t Overdo It 

Keep trips short initially to gauge your baby’s comfort level. Begin with shorter kayaking trips to check if your baby is okay with it and feels comfortable for a shorter time. This way, you can learn how much your baby can handle and make sure they’re doing well. As your baby gets used to kayaking, you can slowly make your trips longer.

#2. Keep Your Infant Inside the Kayak

When kayaking with an infant, it’s crucial to keep them inside the kayak at all times. This will help prevent any accidents or injuries that may occur if they were to fall into the water. Make sure to securely fasten the seatbelt or harness provided in the baby kayak to ensure your infant stays put throughout the journey.

#3. Properly Fit Life Jacket for Your Infant

When you go kayaking with a baby, it’s super important to make sure they wear a life jacket that fits them right and is made for their size and weight. A good-fitting life jacket will help them stay afloat and be safe if anything unexpected happens in the water. Just be sure to follow the instructions from the maker to pick the right life jacket for your baby.

#4. Wait Until Your Infant Is Ready

Going kayaking is super exciting, but take your baby on a kayaking trip when they’re old enough to handle it. Your baby should be able to hold their head up well and be steady before going paddling. It is recommended to wait until they are at least six months old before introducing them to kayaking.

#5. Stay Close

Keep your baby within arm’s reach while in the kayak. Babies need a lot of care, and keeping them close helps you watch over them. If anything surprising happens, like big waves or bad weather, or if your baby gets upset, having them close by means you can quickly take care of any problems. This proximity significantly reduces response time in case of an emergency.

#6. Stay Mindful of Paddling Experience

When you’re thinking about going kayaking with your baby, think about how well you know how to paddle. If you’re new to kayaking, it’s a good idea to practice a bit before taking your little one with you. This way, you’ll feel sure and at ease handling the kayak and making sure your baby is safe.

#7. Invest in a Suitable Paddling Life Jacket

In addition to a life jacket for your infant, it’s also essential to invest in a suitable paddling life jacket for yourself. These jackets are designed specifically for water sports like kayaking and provide better mobility and comfort while paddling. Make sure your life jacket is properly fitted and approved for kayaking activities.

#8. Avoid Rough Waters and Strong Currents

When kayaking with an infant, it’s important to choose calm waters without strong currents or rough waves. These conditions can make the kayak unstable and increase the risk of accidents. Opt for peaceful lakes, slow-moving rivers, or sheltered bays where the water is relatively calm and predictable.

#9. Don’t Rush

Avoid rushing into kayaking with your infant; take your time to prepare. Rushing into any activity, especially one involving an infant, can lead to oversight and increased risks. Ultimately, the goal of kayaking with your infant is to create a positive and memorable experience.

Taking your time to prepare ensures that you can focus on bonding, exploration, and the joy of sharing this adventure with your baby. It allows you to savor each moment without feeling rushed or anxious.

#10. Pack Essential Supplies

Before embarking on a kayaking trip with your little one, make sure to pack all the essential supplies they may need. This includes diapers, wipes, extra clothing, bottles or snacks if needed, sunscreen, hats, and any other items necessary for their comfort during the adventure.

Choosing the Right Kayak and Gear for Your Infant

Choosing the right kayak and gear is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some key factors to consider:

Look for stable, wide kayaks with ample seating space

Finding a kayak that provides stability is crucial when bringing your infant along. Look for kayaks that are wide and have a sturdy build to ensure balance on the water. A wider kayak will offer more stability, reducing the risk of tipping over.

Opt for a kayak with built-in safety features like secure straps or harnesses

Safety should always be a top priority when kayaking with an infant. Look for kayaks that come equipped with built-in safety features such as secure straps or harnesses. These will help keep your baby securely in place during your adventure.

Invest in a quality paddle specifically designed for ease of use

Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference in your kayaking experience. Invest in a quality paddle that is lightweight and easy to handle. Look for paddles specifically designed for ease of use, as they will provide better control and reduce fatigue while you navigate the waters.

Ensure your infant wears a properly fitted life jacket

A properly fitted life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) is essential to keep your little one safe on the water. Make sure you choose a PFD that is specifically designed for infants and meets all safety regulations. It should fit snugly but comfortably, allowing freedom of movement without compromising safety.

Pack extra clothes, waterproof pants, and a waterproof bag

Accidents happen, especially when you’re out on the water with an infant. Be prepared by packing extra clothes for both you and your baby. Waterproof pants can also be handy to protect against splashes or unexpected waves. Bring along a waterproof bag to store any wet or soiled items during your kayaking trip.

Remember essential gear like sunglasses and a sun protection jacket

Protecting your baby from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial, even while on the water. Remember to bring sunglasses for your baby to protect their eyes from the strong sun. You might also want to get a sun protection jacket that has UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to keep your sensitive skin safe from harmful UV rays.

By thinking about these things and getting the right kayak and equipment, you can make sure your kayaking trip with your baby is safe and fun. Always put safety first and be ready for any surprises that might happen.

Proper Nutrition and Hydration While Kayaking With Your Infant

It’s not just about the gear and safety precautions. You also need to ensure that your little one stays well-nourished and hydrated throughout the adventure. Here are some tips on how to keep your baby fed and watered while enjoying a day on the water.

Pack Breast Milk or Formula in Insulated Containers

If you’re breastfeeding, make sure to pack enough breast milk in insulated containers to keep it fresh during your kayaking trip. It’s important to store breast milk at the right temperature to maintain its quality and prevent bacteria growth. Similarly, if you’re using the formula, bring pre-measured portions in sealed containers.

Offer Frequent Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding Breaks

While out on the water, remember that babies have smaller stomachs and may need more frequent feedings than adults. Take breaks from paddling every couple of hours to offer your baby breastfeeding or bottle-feeding sessions. This will not only provide them with nourishment but also give you both a chance to bond and relax.

Bring Water Bottles or Sippy Cups Suitable for Infants

Just like adults, infants need hydration, too! Make sure to bring water bottles or sippy cups suitable for their age group. Opt for spill-proof options that are easy for them to hold and drink from. Fill the bottles with clean drinking water before setting off on your kayaking adventure.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen, Diapers, and Snacks

Besides making sure your baby eats and drinks well, there are some other important things to think about when you go kayaking with your baby. Put sunscreen on your baby’s skin that’s not covered before you go into the sun. Bring extra diapers just in case, and if your baby is old enough to eat solid food, bring some snacks, too.

Choose Calm Waters for Your Kayaking Adventure

When planning your kayaking trip, it’s crucial to select calm and gentle waters. This will help ensure a smoother ride for you and your baby. Avoid areas with strong currents or rough waves that may pose a safety risk. Check the weather conditions and water conditions before setting out to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Prioritize Safety Above All Else

While it’s important to keep your baby well-fed and hydrated, safety should always be the top priority when kayaking with an infant. Make sure both you and your little one are wearing appropriate life jackets designed for infants. Double-check all the safety equipment on your vessel before embarking on your adventure.

Best Places To Kayak with Infants

If you’re planning to go kayaking with your little one, it’s important to choose the right destination and activities that are suitable for both you and your infant. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your kayaking adventure with your baby:

Calm Lakes or Slow-Moving Rivers Are Ideal  

It’s best to stick to calm lakes or slow-moving rivers. These types of water bodies provide a more relaxed and gentle experience, which is perfect for your little one. The calm waters ensure minimal waves or currents, making it safer and more enjoyable for both of you.

Look for Family-Friendly Kayak Tours or Rentals

For a stress-free time, think about finding kayak tours or rentals that are great for families. These services are set up to help families with little kids, giving you all the stuff and help you need for a good kayaking trip. They usually have kayaks made for babies to keep them safe and comfy on the journey.

Try Gentle Paddling Near Wildlife Sanctuaries

A cool idea when kayaking with your baby is to go on easy paddling trips near places where animals and plants are protected, like wildlife sanctuaries. This lets you and your baby enjoy the calm of nature and watch birds, animals, and plants in their own homes. It can also teach your baby about different things they see and hear in a quiet and peaceful place.

Here are a few additional tips that can enhance your kayaking adventure with an infant:

  • Pack essential items such as extra diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, sunscreen, hats, and extra clothes.
  • Choose a time of day when your baby is well-rested and fed so that they are in good spirits during the trip.
  • Bring along toys or books that can keep them entertained during breaks.
  • Ensure that everyone wears appropriate safety gear, including life jackets that fit properly.
  • Take breaks when needed to attend to your baby’s needs and provide them with comfort.

Remember, the key is to prioritize your infant’s safety and comfort throughout the kayaking experience. By selecting suitable destinations and activities, you can create lasting memories while introducing your little one to the joys of being out on the water.

Learn More

Is it safe to kayak alone with my infant?

While it’s generally safer to have another adult accompany you when kayaking with an infant, it is possible to kayak alone if you take extra precautions. Make sure someone knows about your plans, stay close to the shore, and always prioritize your baby’s safety.

What should I do if my baby gets fussy or uncomfortable during kayaking?

Babies can get fussy or uncomfortable during kayaking trips. Take breaks as needed, provide comfort and reassurance, offer snacks or toys to distract them, and be responsive to their needs. It’s important to prioritize their well-being and enjoyment throughout the experience.

Final Words

To sum it up, kayaking with your baby can be a heartwarming and unforgettable experience that introduces them to the joys of outdoor and water adventures. While it’s exciting, safety should always come first, and this guide provides essential dos and don’ts to follow. By sticking to these guidelines, you can ensure that your family’s kayaking trips are filled with cherished moments, laughter, and peace of mind.

Always prioritize your baby’s comfort, safety, and enjoyment during your kayaking adventures.

About Ronin D. Sullivan

"Flow with the currents, embrace the adventure, and let the river be your guide."

- I am a kayak instructor and proud co-founder of PaddleWiggle. With a passion for paddling and a wealth of experience in the field, I've dedicated my life to sharing the joy and art of kayaking with others. Being a co-founder of PaddleWiggle is a dream come true. Together with my fellow founders, we've built a platform that serves as a premier destination for kayaking enthusiasts.

Connect with me on FacebookPinterest, and Reddit.

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