your baby or toddler
How to paddle board with your baby or toddler
One day, while exploring New Caledonia's Lagoon, (the longest continuous barrier reef in the world!), we soon realized that paddling always alone was not what we wanted. Having a baby girl of 17 months old, we were reluctant to go paddle boarding as we were wondering how to paddle board with a baby and thinking "OMG, what if she falls down and she drowns?", "the sun is too strong!", "it's so dangerous for her!", etc... .
And yes, those are good points, unless you take the precautions needed to allow your child to safely feel the indescribable wellbeing of the reef's breeze, the light movement of the lagoon waters and to discover the beauty of the underwater life.
We overcame our fears a few months ago and learned how to paddle board with our baby. We started to bring our baby on our SUP sessions and guess what, she ADORES it and LOVES it that much that whenever we go after lunch, her longest naps are on the SUP board!
Here's our guide about how to paddle board with a baby or toddler.
1. Before putting your SUP on the water
Good Practices for a Good 1st SUP Experience
- For a couple of days, let the baby play with the board on land. Let them walk or play with their toys on it.
- Young age babies should be able to walk, in order to have a good stability on the board, even if they will be sitting down.
- Make sure that your baby is comfortable in the water and doesn't panic with light wavy water. It might take a few weeks or a few days.
Safety and Comfort
Taking your children on your Stand Up Paddle is a great way to initiate them to an outdoor sport. At the same time, it is a big responsibility, as remember that we are the ones that need to adapt to the ocean and weather conditions in order to stay safe and sound.
First thing that you need to buy is a life jacket for your child. There are multiple cool life vests. You can also find baby life jackets in all kinds of colors and shapes.
Whether it is cloudy or sunny, you should protect your kid's skin not only with reef-safe sunscreen but also with a rashguard. We personally love the design of Billabong's child rashguards. Equally, there are other beautiful child rashguards at a less expensive price!
Children, specially babies and toddlers, can get heavily irritated eyes with sunlight exposure. The California Optometric Association recommends always using sunglasses during sunny and also cloudy days. They should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. A good option with all these characteristics are Polarized sunglasses for children.
Sun protective caps
Having tested it with our baby girl, either sun protective bucket hats or flap caps are the best option to protect the neck, ears and face. We personally use a flap cap and if you get it with adjustable straps, it's even better!
Weather, Wind & Tides forecast
Always check the weather forecast before going for a SUP session, even a short one. The wind is very treacherous, therefore we always take a deeper look at the wind report too. You can verify the direction, speed per hour and other details in apps like Windfinder or Wisuki. Low tides can create currents that will make you struggle to come back to your start point.
We need to remember that they are not paddling, thus not active like us. Therefore, whether you are in a lagoon in French Polynesia or in a Swiss lake in spring time, their body temperature will always be lower than ours.
2. Quick SUP SAFETY CHECKLIST
Before leaving home, make sure to follow the SUP Safety Checklist below:
3. How to place your baby and yourself on the board
Your baby should always be sitting in the middle of the SUP board for more stability.
You can place yourself differently, according to your baby's mood, as sometimes they will need to be closer to you. We recommend to always touch your baby's body with a leg, knee or foot in order to feel them and control their movement while the board is on the water.
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Surround baby with your legs
Sit down on the board and place your baby in the middle of your legs. We usually start this way at the beginning of our SUP sessions, as it reassures our daughter and makes her feel more confident.
Sit on your heels, kneeling on the SUP
Place your baby between your knees. Regarding the paddle, make it as short as you can or just hold it as if it was a kayak paddle. The goal is not to remain in this position during the whole tour!
Stand up, surround with your feet
Once you feel confident and stable on the board, just stand up and paddle normally with your baby between your feet. Make sure your baby feels confident too and is enjoying being on the board.
Remember that flat water is the best option to have a great and safe time with your little one. Never risk going out on a windy day with your baby, even if you're an experienced SUP boarder.