Many of us at Paddle North are parents and getting our kids outside is very important. Outdoor adventures have endless benefits for development, including agility, endurance, confidence, creativity, bone development and more.
Paddle boarding with your kids (even toddlers) is a great activity that everyone can enjoy. In addition to the benefits of being outside, it will help improve their balance, comfort around water, and overall appreciation of paddling. With that being said, there are steps you should take when first introducing your children to paddling to ensure it’s safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Make sure your child is comfortable with the water
It’s important that your child is not afraid of the water and enjoys being in the water before bringing them out on longer paddling excursions. You also need to be aware of their swimming capabilities. Paddling with children should be an enjoyable activity for everyone, so don’t force them into it if it’s not the right time.
Check the weather
Weather conditions will have a significant impact on the experience. You'll want to take young children paddling when the water is calm, so you're not battling wind and waves. If winds are stronger than 10mph, then it might be best to go paddle on a different day.
Choose an appropriate location
It is best to paddle in calmer, safe waters when out with your kid(s). We recommend lakes and bays, as well as warmer water temperatures. Any body of water with a strong current, undercurrent, or waves should be avoided. If out on a larger body of water, then it's a good idea to paddle closer to the shoreline as a precaution.
Sit or Stand?
When getting started out on the water, we recommend having your child sit on the front edge of the traction pad. You (the paddler) should also start on your knees to get a feel for the change in stability. As your child moves, the board will move, which requires more focus on balancing. Similar to a bike, a paddle board is more stable when it's moving. So when you do decide to stand up, try to do it while the board is in motion. You can even sit down and let them have a turn standing and paddling. Once you are comfortable, try to see if you can both stand and paddle at the same time. Of course, it's okay if you fall in and should be fun!
Wear a life jacket
It is always important to wear a PFD when out on a paddle board, but this is not negotiable when paddling with young children. It’s essential for them, regardless of swimming capabilities. Make sure it’s a coast guard approved life jacket that is the appropriate size for your child. It is also very important for you as the adult to wear a PFD both to set an example, as well as backup in case you encounter the unexpected.
Questions to ask yourself...
Do I have the physical health and stamina to assist my child in case of an emergency?
- Can I physically pull my child back onto the paddle board without falling into the water? If I do fall in the water, can I climb back on while also helping my child?
- If my child were to fall off and drift away in their life jacket, am I strong enough to paddle to them?
Safety Tips Recap
- Wear a PFD
- Check the forecast
- Make sure you are a confident paddle boarder
- Dress appropriately for water temperatures