When can babies kayak? (Tips for Parents)

In this post, I’ll talk about When (what age) can kid kayak? and share some tips on Go kayaking with your kids. 

One of the best things about kayaking is that you can share your precious moment with your family and create a memorable experience with them. There are many parents plan to bring their children to go kayaking, some of the parents even consider to bring their toddlers which brings a lot of considerations to the table. 

“ When can babies kayak, Is it safe? ” 

When it comes to babies, safety is always the priority. But we don’t want to limit our nature of adventurous. Some said: if we let the internet decide how to parent, we will never let our kids leave the house.

So, What age can babies kayak? The answer is not quite relevant to their age, it’s more about their ability and maturity of their body.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • Toddlers must able to sit still
  • Toddlers must able to float him/herself on the water
  • Toddlers must weigh at least 18 pounds and can wear a snug-fitting personal flotation device (PFD)

So, You definitely can’t bring your newborn(1-16 months) baby on the kayak. 2-5 years old will be a good fit for them to kayak with you in the same boat. And kids from 7 to 10 years old are at an ideal age to learn to kayak in their own boat.


The time before infants can proper fit into a life jacket, they should not be on any kind of boat. There are no watercraft is safe enough for a baby who is too small to wear a life jacket. No matter how careful you think you are.

If your children are good to go. Here are some tips.


Tips for Kayaking with Kids


Where to go kayaking with my children?

Quick answer: Calm water for the at least the first five-time with your kids.

Choose a calm water for you and your children is the best way to get started. It’s definitely not a good idea to paddle against any currents or strong wave during the first time kayaking experience. A relatively static lake will be the perfect option.

When your children become more experienced and more comfortable in riding in a kayak, you can challenge yourselves to go to the more advanced environment for kayaking. But be sure that the river/sea you must be confident to paddle alone. In this way, you will have less panic if an emergency happens.


  • Study the currents and the kayak traffic with your kids before you go.
  • Communicate with children about the bathroom break, try to know their ability ahead the time.

Check out this inspirational video about kayak with kids.


What types of the kayak is good for us?

Quick answer: Sit-on-Top Tandem Kayak.

For children who under the age of 7 years old, it’s best for them to share a tandem kayak with you. They should always sit in front of you. In this way, you can always monitor them while paddling. And some of the sit-on-top tandem kayaks even have extra seat for a small child sit in the middle while two adults sit in.

While any type of tandem kayak is great for paddling with kids on the calm water. Sit-on-tops are especially great because they allow kids to easily jump off and hop back on it. They normally have the bail system that the kayak will never fill up with water.

And again, the best spot for kids to sit is in front of you or sometimes your kids can even sit between your legs in tandem kayaks.

tandem kayak
Pic source: Amazon.com


Extra Gear 

I try to keep it simple. There are tons of gear you can prepare for the river trip. I’m not going to list all of them. I’m focusing on the Extra gear that you need when you go kayaking with kids.

PFD for kids

Emergencies happen on the water, sometimes you won’t be able to help your child if you’re struggling to help yourself.

Make sure your children are always putting on the Life Jacket. You won’t let your child sit in the car without wearing a seatbelt. Why let them go kayaking without a PFD(life jacket)?

How to choose the PFD for your kids? Factors you should consider.

  • Coast Guard approved label

You will see a six-digits of the approval number on the label. The number indicates the Federal Regulation under which the Coast Guard approved this life jacket. The regulation section numbers differ by the type of life jacket being approved.

life jacket for kids

  • Confirm Sizing

Every PFD manufacturer has its own sizing system and it is important to confirm the size before purchasing any brand of the life jacket. Consult the PFD manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine which size PFD your child will need.

  • PFD should Fit securely but not too tight

The term that Coast Guard uses is comfortably snug. Check weight and size on the label and try the PFD on your child, their chin and ears should not slip from shoulder through a proper fit.

  • Head support. 

A well designed PFD should support your child’s head when the child is in the water. Make sure the PFD you purchased has it. Especially on an infant PFD, the neck pad is critical for keeping the child’s head positioned correctly in the case of capsizing.

  • Crotch strap

This is not a Must. A strap between the legs usually for younger children. It helps prevent the vest from coming off when your children are still small.

  • Comfort and appearance 

Nobody really likes to wear a PFD especially for young ones, with so many models and makes on the market. It’s no excuse you can’t find a PFD that your kids find pretty and comfortable.

Tip: Babies and Teens always HATE their PFDs no matter is too hot or too ugly. It is important to let them get used to it before they go kayaking. You can create a game or try to explain the consequences and don’t forget to offer a reward when they actually wear it.

Sun Protection

Sun protection is always critical during your river trip because of the long period of sun exposure. It’s even more important for your children because they typically have more sensitive skin.

Wearing long sleeves, hats and sunglasses will help a lot, but if you are looking into real sun protection, you may consider buying a collection of UPF clothing for you and your children. UPF means ultraviolet protection factor, they made of special materials that offer extra protection of ultraviolet.

Also, don’t forget to apply the sunscreen(For kids) underneath, generally speaking, you need to apply it at least every 2 hours, make sure to add the extra layer to the neck area. And if you plan to go swimming more likely you need to apply it more frequently like every 30 minutes. Just try to avoid the sun directly off of your skin and you and your children will be fine.

Creative Toys

Although kids are always having a great time on the water, they get bored easily if they are not totally engaged. Some of the children might not enjoy their time spent in nature, they might not understand what it means to stick on a kayak and become bored easily. This situation happens a lot especially on the younger children who cannot paddle yet and will need more of your attention. They will be more likely to compliant and be cranky.

Bring some toys and entertainments to keep your children from bored. Give your child the chance to stay busy and entertained throughout the trip. After they learned how to paddle, things will get better. You can bring any toys which are waterproof like a toy boat/duck or doll wearing a small life vest, also a waterproof camera (GoPro) will be a good idea. (Check out this article: Where to Mount my GoPro Camera While Kayaking?Sometimes brings some pebbles to let them throw is good enough.

Just keep in mind that kids are easy to get bored on water. Use your creativity to entertain them, and your trip will be more kid-friendly.

kayak toys



Hope you find this post helpful and truly answer your question. If you find anything wrong or outdated. Please leave the comment below, I will update as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading. Happy kayaking.

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4 years ago

What is the source of your US Coast Guard tips in this post: http://kayakingventure.com/kayak-kids/?


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