When Can Babies Kayak?

Kayaking is a remarkable adventure that most adults love to do. It’s one of the precious moments to share with family and create a memorable experience. Nowadays, it is not odd to find parents kayaking with their babies. While certain groups see nothing wrong with this, it brings a lot of concerns for others.

This can create several issues and questions among many. You will find likely questions such as at what age can babies kayak. What clothing is suitable for babies when kayaking with their parents? Is kayaking with a baby safe? This article will look at these questions and provide relevant answers. Kayaking with your baby and family should be a thing of fun and not something to dread about. Please find out how to make it more fun.

Rules from the United States Coast Guard

Safety is a priority in everything we do. When it comes to babies, it is a necessity. Therefore, it is never advisable to seek answers from the internet because your kids will never leave home. When is it suitable for you to go kayaking with your baby? While there is no straightforward answer to the question, it is more about the maturity and ability of the child that determines when to go kayaking.

To ensure people adhere to certain precautions, the United States Coast Guard has rules regarding kayaking with a baby. Here are a few rules that parents must adhere to when kayaking.

  • The baby must sit still.
  • The baby must not weigh less than 18 pounds
  • The baby can float without any parental support
  • The baby can wear a personal flotation device

With these rules, it means you can’t take your newborn baby to kayak. The best age for a child is within 2 – 5 years is fit to kayak with an adult in the same boat. However, kids above seven years can learn kayaking using their own boat.

Things to consider when kayaking with a baby

When you want to kayak with your toddler, you have several things to consider if you want to have a smooth ride. This section will provide essential things you need for 100% security and safety.

Pick a conducive environment

You need to choose a calm river with a sunshade in the starting phase. For safety purposes, ensure you select an area you are familiar with and confident that won’t be any severe emergencies. Once you can kayak with your baby five times, you can get them acclimatized to the environment.

The best way to pick a conducive environment is to study the wave and kayak traffic of the particular location you want to kayak. Become experienced with the areas and the dangers before endangering your baby’s life. Another option is to ask the authority about the water condition of the area.


Another thing to consider when kayaking with a baby is clothing. You can do it with water-proof clothes as it is natural to get water while kayaking. Furthermore, you should endeavor to carry extra clothes for your babies if they get dirty or wet. In addition, use a water-resistant bag to pack the clothes.

Gears and Life jackets

While kayaking with a baby, you need to carry essential gear such as cooler, water-proof shoes, paddling gloves, hats, sunglasses, etc. Additional life vests and gear are essential for emergencies.

While your baby might not be comfortable using a life jacket, it’s important to wear them because an accident can happen at any time. Therefore, the thumb rule is to be prepared. Ensure your child weighs 30 to 50 pounds before using a life jacket. The suitable life vests for babies should be 8 to 30 lbs.

Go along with toys

Besides taking sun protection for your baby since their skin is sensitive, you should also consider taking toys. Your kid can get bored when on a waterway journey. Therefore, it is wise to take their favorite toys to keep them engaged. In addition, avoid tying your baby with a kayak.

Duration of the kayaking trip

You have to keep your expectation in check here because things might go differently than you plan. Whether you do 30 minutes or 3 hours, everyone is a winner. When kayaking with a baby, half an hour is ideal. For toddlers and babies, it might mean sitting at the edge of the cockpit for some moments. However, when deciding the duration of your trip, consider the following factors.

  • The experience of the child in paddling a kayak
  • Their age
  • Familiarity with water
  • Their ability to listen to instructions
  • Their fitness level and swimming ability

You can consider signing for swimming and kayaking lessons if your child is grown up. This will significantly help your child when kayaking in the future. Interestingly, it helps the child pick up confidence as they see other children practicing with a kayak.

Types of Kayaking suitable for Babies

When kayaking with a baby, you have two options to have a wonderful trip. You can opt for the sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak. Let’s explore these types of kayaks.

Sit-on-top Kayak

The sit-on-top kayak provides the paddler with the top position to enable easy and fast paddling. The top position offers additional freedom when paddling with a higher center of gravity. This ensures the kayak remains stable, making it hard for the boat to sink. However, this kayak lacks an enclosed cockpit to rest or roam. The sit-on-top kayak is the best option if your child intends to jump and swim.

Sit inside kayak

The other option available is the sit-inside kayak that allows the rider to sit inside to paddle the boat. The cockpit is enclosed, providing adequate space for your kid to move around, take a nap, and play.

Tips when kayaking with babies

Taking your children will require some important tips, especially if it’s your first time. You need to have the foresight to plan and organize the trip if you want a satisfying experience. There can be a lot of surprises when going for a paddling adventure with kids. However, it depends on how prepared you are. To help parents kayaking with a baby for the first time, here are a few things to do if you want to get a memorable and safe kayak expedition.

Plan your starting and ending point

When kayaking with your children, you need to plan where to start and end. Wherever you choose should have shorelines without obstacles to enjoy a free ride. Another important reason for choosing where to start and end is to enable you to stay on course and not drift away.

Ensure you select a place where it is calm to kayak because windless water isn’t safe for kids. Depending on your child’s age, it can help build their confidence, reduce stress, and skill level. Take time to study the tides, currents, and traffic along the route you decide to navigate through to know if it is suitable for your kids.

Adhere to safety precautions

Children can be fearful when they face certain things the first time. You can help avert that fear by practicing safety measures. The best approach is to talk to your kids about safety rules, devices, and water safety. Alternatively, you can show them how to ensure their safety if something unexpected happens.

For instance, ensure you teach them how to wear personal flotation devices regardless of their age. It doesn’t matter if they know how to swim. You can practice wearing several safety kits before the day of your kayaking. Furthermore, enlighten them on the safety rules of knowing how to paddle, not standing up or jumping into a kayak. In addition, explain the importance of keeping their life vests on till the trip ends.

Personalize the kayaking trip

You need to spice things up by building excitement for your kid. Talk to them about the trip in a way that you personalize it. For example, you can allow them to decide items to pack, what to do on water trails, or invite their friends. When possible, you can emphasize tradition, telling stories of previous adventures. If possible, you can show maps and photos to keep that excitement level high.

Timeframe for the trip

Children get bored overtime when an activity becomes time-consuming. Therefore, the best thing to do is to shorten the trip. When kayaking with your kids, keeping it at most an hour is preferable. However, if you intend to go with toddlers or babies, it’s advisable to take a few moments within the cockpit, and it should be around the water edge.

The general rule is to travel one-third of the distance for adults if you are paddling with toddlers. The older the kids are, the more time you can spend. Furthermore, avoid taking a long or completing the entire trip in one round. Instead, take a break every 15 to 30 minutes to explore the wildlife and scenery.

Things to avoid when kayaking with your child

You might want to have fun and enjoy a wonderful bonding time with your family. However, there are a few don’ts when it comes to kayaking. You need to know things you shouldn’t do when you have kids with you.

  • Never leave your kid strapped to a car seat when onboarding a kayak. Their personal flotation device won’t handle the additional weight if the boat sinks.
  • Never overrate your child’s physical abilities because kayaking requires a lot of endurance and strength, especially if they are younger.
  • Avoid taking unnecessary risks that can potentially put your kids into dangerous situations.
  • Never force your child to paddle only if they aren’t emotionally and physically ready for it.
  • Avoid kayaking with your kids if they don’t understand simple safety rules.

Hit the water with your baby

You’ve got the essentials required to be prepared for this extraordinary adventure with your family. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of what will happen if things don’t go as you plan. You are always bound to face obstacles when kayaking with children.

Remember, boredom can be a major issue, which is why you have to keep kids entertained. Get whatever toys possible to keep them interested as you kayak. Don’t leave out any safety rules and personal flotation devices required for the trip. We believe you will indeed have a wonderful trip as you spend quality time with your family kayaking.

Most importantly, don’t forget that kayaking with your kids should be fun for both of you. Therefore, endeavor to plan appropriately to enjoy every aspect of your adventure. Avoid rushing anything. When required, take breaks, photos and engage in swimming. Have fun kayaking with your baby.

Frequently Asked Question

Should I use an inflatable kayak for my kids?

An inflatable kayak is the perfect starting place for kids as it is less expensive. Nevertheless, some expandable kayaks might not be durable and puncture easily. Therefore, the best option is to purchase a kayak manufactured with high-density polyethylene to avoid replacement after a short period.

When should a child be allowed to control a kayak without any assistance?

Kids can handle a kayak at different ages. Normally, if your kid requests a kayak, it means they are mentally and physically ready for the challenge. If you have concerns, you can use a tow rope to keep them close to yourself when paddling.

When is it necessary for a school-age kid to get their kayak?

There is no one rule to this as it would depend on several factors. Children’s maturity rates are different. Nevertheless, most school-age children can handle a kayak and are mentally strong. To be on the safer side, you can ask if they can do it. Assuming you were using a double kayak, you can put them to the test if they can handle a single kayak.

Should a young person use an adult or junior kayak?

Any child above age 13 can use an adult kayak. Therefore, if you are young, it is the best time to upgrade to paddle your own kayak.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

Recent Posts