Boating is one of the most fun activities you and your family can do together. You can have a relaxing day on the water fishing and tanning to your heart’s content. Or, if you would rather a more exciting day, then you can try your hand at tubing or water skiing to really get the blood pumping. Whatever your family enjoys doing, boating is a great way to do it.
When there is a new family member on the way, though, do you have to stop doing the things you love? Of course not! But having a baby does make it so that you have to take some special precautions and change the way your family does boating adventures. In today’s blog here at Freedom Boat Club in Buford, we talk about whether or not it is safe to take an infant boating with you, and tips for having younger kids on the boat with you.
What does the U.S. Coast Guard think?
The U.S. Coast Guard states that everybody under the age of 13 years old must wear a life jacket unless in an enclosed cabin — which obviously includes infants. However, they also state that the life jacket must fit properly. For an infant life jacket, the smallest the infant can be is 18 pounds for the life jacket to fit properly. This means that it’s probably a good idea to hold off on the boating adventures until your newborn is a little older. Typically, a child will hit 18 pounds as early as the six-month mark, or as late as the 11-month mark. Once your child is around 18 pounds, the infant life jacket should fit properly and you and the whole happy family can hit the water — carefully of course.
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Tips for infant safety while boating
While technically your baby can join you on the boat once they reach 18 pounds, there are still some precautions you should take with a baby on board. After all, babies are fragile and need special care with everything in life — not just boating! When out on the boat with your family and infant, make sure that you always follow these safety tips.
Always have the infant life jacket on
Literally always. Whether you are moving or not. Some fully grown adults have trouble swimming and keeping their heads above water; so you can’t expect your baby to be able to either should they end up in the water. Unless your baby is within the enclosed cabin of your boat, they should always have their life jacket on. Though the risk of them falling in the water is likely very low, do you really want to risk it?
Always verbally affirm someone is watching
One common mistakes parents can make in everyday situations, not only on the family boat, is assuming the other parent is watching your child. For example, while on the boat, you may tell your significant other that you are going to put some sunscreen on real quick and to watch baby Suzie. Your partner may not have heard you, your partner may not have realized that you were asking them to watch the baby, the options are endless. The way to easily avoid this is to clearly communicate with language like “will you watch Suzie, please while I apply sunscreen?” and waiting for a clear reply back “yes, I can watch her while you do that.”
Clear communication and accurate language can make it so that precious little Suzie always has eyes on her and is as safe and happy.
Sit toward the back
Even though the person operating the boat should be driving safely and smoothly, it doesn’t hurt to be careful and sit in the back of the boat. The back portion of the boat is more stable, less bumpy, and less likely to have you leaving your seat on a wave. Most people choose to sit in the back seats with the baby on their lap and both hands or arms on the baby. It’s also helpful to have the baby’s foot or leg gently held in between your legs. This ensures the child is in a safe and secure position.
Special baby seats
There are some special boat seats available for infants that can float and are secure. Some may be okay, but be careful not to use something like a car seat or stroller. Only use the infant seating while the boat is anchored. The safest place for your child while boating is in your lap.
Take it slow
Make sure your driver is careful and is operating the boat slowly. High speeds can create opportunities for not only the baby to fall out, but adults as well. An experienced boat captain will know to putt about slowly for not only the babies safety, but for his or her own safety as well. Parents of newborns can be protective if they feel you are putting their baby at risk!
At the end of the day, you are the parent and it is up to you to decide what is best for your child. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your baby boating, then you certainly do not have to. If you do choose to take your baby out with you on your day of boating, make sure to follow the guidance above, bring plenty of sunscreen, and use your best judgment and parental instincts.
And, for those looking to be a part of the country’s oldest and largest boating club, join Freedom Boat Club in Buford for all the perks of boat ownership, without any of the troubles! You get to choose from a selection of boats like pontoon boats, speed boats, fishing boats, and more — without the hassle regular boat maintenance and storage.