All About Boating with Babies

Being a new parent brings many challenges, and if you are a boater, one of those challenges will be how to safely boat around with your new baby on board. The good news is there aren’t any reasons why you can’t go out and enjoy a boat ride with a healthy baby as long as you are careful and properly prepare for the trip. Here is what you need to know about babies and boating to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable time.

Boating Times

You want to stay away from boating when there are a lot of others boaters out on the water or if it’s a windy day. The problem is that the waves created by the boats and wind will cause your boat to rock. The effects of the rocking could cause the baby’s head to snap back and forth if it is not properly prepared to handle the waves – this can happen even during an innocent moment when the baby is passed from one person to another in the boat. You should restrict your boating times to when the water is calm to avoid accidentally hurting the baby.

How to Dress the Baby

A baby’s skin is extremely sensitive to the effects of ultraviolet rays. Dress the baby in loose clothing to help keep the child cool. The baby should also wear a wide brimmed hat to cover their face and a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes. This type of protection is very important to you are going boating during the middle of the day when the ultraviolet rays are at its strongest levels.

Life Preserver

The baby should also wear an infant-sized life preserver whenever they are on the boat or in the water. The best type of life preserver for an infant is the Type II jacket. A Type II life jacket will flip the baby up so its head is always above water if they accidentally fall overboard or if you are swimming around with the baby. The jacket slips on the baby and zips up like a regular jacket to keep your baby from falling out of it.

Create a Baby Area

You should designate a specific area in the boat where the baby will be situated so you know where it is all the time. You should be able to isolate the space to keep other children away from the baby so they don’t bother the child – especially during nap-time. For example, on a pontoon boat, the area behind the driver’s chair and the back seating area can easily be cordoned off so the baby can remain undisturbed when napping.


You should make sure you provide the baby with ample shade so it doesn’t get sunburned. Make sure the boat you are in has a canopy that you can raise to provide shade in the seating area. You should also bring a sheet or large towel along that you can drape of the top of the basket or stroller you are carrying the baby in. In a pontoon boat, the sheet could be stretched out over the back of the driver’s seat to the side and back railing. This keeps the baby protected by the sun as the boat changes position in relation to the sun. The sheet should be kept up high enough above the baby so cooler air will still be able circulate under the sheet or towel to help keep the baby from overheating.


You have to be careful when applying sunscreen on a baby six months or younger. Babies under the age of six months can have a negative reaction to the ingredients in the sunscreen and they can get sick. Instead, keep the baby well-shaded from the sun overhead and the ultraviolet rays bouncing off of the water and into the boat.

For babies older than six months, you should use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 50. Soak the baby down with the sunscreen every couple of hours and after spending time in the water to keep it from getting sunburned.

Diaper Bag

You should load up the diaper bag with things like waterproof diapers, baby formula and/or breastmilk, and a change of clothes to handle any situation. Having everything you need on-hand will help to make the boat trip a pleasant one.