Congratulations on having a bouncing bundle of joy in your home. Whether your little one is only a few months old or steadily approaching preschool, rest assured your favorite boating pastime is safe.
This list of baby boating accessories and best practices will help ensure a day on the water becomes one of many more, turning your child into a lifelong cruiser.
1. Infant Life Jackets
Several stores and online shops offer these for infants and toddlers. Only buy ones that are Coast Guard-approved Type II devices and labeled as infant PFDs (personal flotation devices).
Generally, infant PFDs apply to children weighing between 18 and 30 pounds. They have straps that go between your child’s legs, to keep the jackets from riding up. They also have “heads-up” pads, which are pillow-like attachments that support their head and therefore keep them face up in the water. Finally, adhere to your state’s regulations for wearing life jackets.
Remember that UV rays reflect off the water, so shade is key. Removable biminis are ideal for boats without cabins or fixed hardtops. Additionally sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are musts among baby boating accessories. Keep these items onboard, too. That way you won’t forget to pack them each time you head to the dock.
Learn more by reading Sun Screen and Sun Safety Tips for Boaters.
3. Towels & Blankets
Since infants and young children are at higher risk of hypothermia, ensure a few additional dry, warm layers are handy.
4. Designate a Baby/Kid Zone Onboard
Take it from those of us whose parents nicknamed us wiggle worms. Pick a place where your little ones can stay (or nap) without risk of getting underfoot or falling overboard.
Thankfully, the same baby-proofing measures you use at home also work onboard. Also, appoint someone to keep an eye on the kids.
5. Select Soft Toys
Include boat-exclusive toys among your baby boating accessories. Choose stuffed animals or other soft, squeezable playthings, to safeguard easily damaged surfaces.
Hint: Bathtub toys are perfect, since they’ll float when (not if) your munchkin tosses them over the side.
6. Skip the Car Seat and Highchair
Car seats aren’t made for strapping onto a captain’s chair. They’re also too heavy to stay afloat in case of an emergency. Similarly, highchairs are impractical onboard.
If you really want a chair for Junior, consider a marine-grade baby seat. The portable pack-n-plays might work for naptime as well, depending on how much floor space you have.
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