How to Paddle with Young Children

paddle with young children(photo courtesy of Mallory D.)

Paddling with very young children is different than with those old enough to learn to paddle their own kayak or SUP board. Our friends at Paddle TV have several helpful videos about getting on the water with our little ones.

How to Keep Kayaking & Paddleboarding Fun

The biggest challenge with paddling with young children is to keep them from getting bored! Here are some tips to keep them happy and engaged:



When you introduce very young children to paddling:

  • Paddle in a small, safe body of water with a beach so your kids can go swimming or play in the water. You may only spend a little while actually paddling!
  • Bring a child-size paddle so your youngsters can “help.”
  • Bring a few toys along that are water-friendly (and will float if dropped in!).
  • Jokes, sing-a-longs and I Spy games will help pass the time.
  • Snacks and treats are huge!

Keep the weather forecast in mind so everyone has the right clothing. Use sun screen if needed, and, of course, a properly-fitted and Coast Guard approved life jacket.

How to Paddle with Small Children

Until they’re old enough to paddle their own watercraft, small children will be with you. This video gives us some great tips on how to make that work so you’re all happy:

  • A tandem kayak is ideal so one adult or teen can be with the little one in the front. The stern paddler can do all the paddling while the bow paddler is focused on the child.
  • Canoeing is the same—when the child is in front of the bow paddler, he or she is within easy reach.
  • Small kids can also sit on the nose of a SUP board to ride along. You should already have some SUP experience and use a board that’s very stable.
  • Be sure all young children wear a life jacket (PFD) that’s designed for their size and weight.

What to Do if You Flip

Paddling with kids is the best way to introduce them to a lifetime of fun, adventure and health through paddlesports. But anytime you’re on the water, there’s a chance of capsize, even on calm water. What then?

This video covers what to do if you flip:

When you’re prepared for this possibility you’ll be much more likely to deal with it in the off chance it happens. Here are some ways to prepare:

  • Be sure everyone wears their PFD. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, when you have a little one or two along, you don’t want to waste precious time going back for your life jacket to put it on once you’ve dumped. And you don’t want to worry about tiring too soon when you’re in the middle of a rescue.
  • Stay close enough to shore so you can swim to it with your child if you need to.
  • If you flip, your first priority is to get to your child to be sure they’re safe, then get them to shore.
  • Once your little one is safe and relaxed you can retrieve your boat, or someone else can help you out.

Something you can do ahead of time to give you all peace of mind is to practice. Talk to your young kids about what would happen in case of a flip, or in case he or she were to fall off a SUP board.

Then practice with them so they and you know you don’t have to panic.

paddling with young kids

Our pint-size kayak paddle is the Sharkie. Take a look!

Get in touch with our friendly Customer Service team today to answer your paddle questions:  715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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