Boating with Kids
If you have a young child or older kids, boating is a great way to get them outdoors and experience our wonderful marine environment and kids can safely start from a young age.
BOATING WITH KIDS
BOATING WITH YOUNGER KIDS (0-4)
Life jacket regulations vary between states and territories within Australia however it is recommended to take extreme caution when taking children aged less than 12 months old on a boat and that you only take children once they can fit into an appropriate PFD (personal flotation device).
Prior to having children, we would be out boating almost every weekend but during the first 12-months of parenthood, we were sleep-deprived parents and our beloved boat hardly ventured out of the driveway. With our next two boys, we were more confident as parents; we got a lot more sleep so they started boating when they were around six-months-old.
Sourcing a PFD type 1 tiny enough for a baby can be a challenge but we bought one that was perfect for a small child. Prior to going on the boat, I would get the kids accustomed to wearing their jackets and they would swim in the pool in their PFD’s to ensure they fitted correctly and they became used to wearing them.
Our children are now are old enough to put their jackets on by themselves as soon as they step onto the boat. Despite the fact they can all swim, we feel it is an important safety precaution and they wear their PFD’s at all times in the boat.
BOATING WITH OLDER KIDS (5+)
Boating with older, more independent children certainly makes life a lot easier. Now that our boys are all over five-years, I feel we have finally cracked it and boating has become a breeze. No more nappies, bottles, or day sleeps and more time to play.
Now that they are older, the boys help plan our boating adventures. At the moment their favourite activities are fishing, snorkelling and beach combing, which is pretty easy to combine in a day.
The kids enjoy their fishing and although we encourage catch and release, we still keep the odd table fish for dinner as there is nothing better than fresh king george whiting and squid rings, which the kids are pretty adept at catching.
With age, comes increased responsibility so they all put their life jackets on as soon as they get on the boat and they know where to stand and hold on properly during travel. We have also taken time to show them the safety equipment, where it is on the boat and how you use it. They know where the EPIRB and first aid kit is and where the emergency button is on the radio and what to do if we need to call for assistance. The more educated they become about safety procedures and what to do in case of an emergency, the safer everyone on board becomes.
The boys all have their sea legs and with a few years of boating behind them, they hold on well and are sensible on the boat. I am not sure if it was early exposure to the ocean or just good luck but none of our children get seasick, something which I am forever grateful for.
If they or anyone on our boat feels a little queasy, we get them to sit and watch out to the horizon with a bit of breeze on their face. We make sure they have enough food in their tummy and fluids to keep them hydrated. If this does not help, then we head for shore, drop onto an island for a break from the boat or work our way home. It is not nice if anyone becomes unwell so we try to take action before they get too sick.
Essentials to bring
1. PFD Type 1 (personal flotation device)
2. Sunscreen, hat & sunglasses
3. Water, food & snacks
4. Change of clothes, bathers
5. Bassinet, bedding for babies
6. Toys / beanbag
7. Safety equipment for vessel.