Canoeing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and take some time away from the busy city life. And while canoeing allows adults to explore and create memorable adventures, parents often wonder when they can tag their kids along for the ride of their lives. This often leads to the question, how old do you have to be to canoe?
You can canoe at any age. Children as young as toddlers can start canoeing provided you, as the parent or guardian, take the necessary safety precautions. Introducing children to canoeing at an early age is highly recommended if you want them to develop a liking for the sport.
If you’re interested in introducing your children to canoeing at an early age, then you couldn’t be in a better place. Read on as we discuss the dos and don’ts of canoeing with children.
Can You Canoe With a Toddler?
You can canoe with a toddler as long as you’re an experienced canoer yourself. Ideally, introducing children to canoeing at an early age is highly recommended if you want them to develop a liking for the sport.
The trick is to prepare your little one mentally and make the adventure an enjoyable one.
And although there’s no minimum age limit for canoeing with children, it’s advisable to take your child when they’re old enough to enjoy the waters and the experience. Taking children below 18 months for a canoeing adventure isn’t recommended as they’re not strong or stable enough to withstand the potentially tricky ride.
Moreover, canoeing with babies can greatly take away from the canoeing experience, which is why you may want to wait a little longer until your kid is aware of his surroundings. Therefore, waiting until your little one reaches toddlerhood is highly recommended, at least if you want them to enjoy and be a part of the adventure.
Tips To Observe When Canoeing With Toddlers
Let’s now talk about some things to consider when canoeing with your kids.
Check on the Weather
The rule when canoeing with toddlers and kids is to keep a close eye on the weather. This means avoiding the waters if the forecast looks unideal for canoeing. The best time to canoe with kids is when it’s warm or hot, as the hot weather will ensure you dry up quickly.
You should also avoid canoeing with kids when it’s extra windy as you’re likely to be blown across the water, and you don’t want that, especially when enjoying some time out with your kids.
Canoe on a Safe Stretch
While whitewater rapids are the real deal for adrenaline junkies, you should steer clear of such waters when canoeing with a young child. When you have a kid on board, the trick is to target shallow waters that move slow and are easy to navigate.
For toddlers, it’s best to canoe in shallow waters that you can easily get in and out of in case of emergencies. Avoid taking things too far, especially when taking your kids canoeing for the first time.
A good rule is to increase the distance and complexity of stretches as your little one gains experience.
Get a Good Canoe
You can’t afford to wing it when canoeing with a toddler on board.
You simply have to get a good enough boat that’s easy to navigate and is capable of navigating past unexpected rapids. If you prefer to buy, it’s advisable to buy a high-quality canoe with enough safety features for children.
When renting, be sure to specify that you want a well-maintained, child-friendly canoe. If it’s your first time canoeing with your young ones, don’t hesitate to inform your local canoe rental agency that you want something comfortable and welcoming enough for first-timers.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Remember, you’ll be canoeing with your little ones and not fellow adults who can handle the pressures associated with long canoe trips.
Ideally, you should try limiting your trips to around 20-30 minutes when canoeing with inexperienced kids. Longer trips will almost certainly leave your kids bored, which isn’t ideal if you want them to grow fond of the canoeing experience.
Child-Friendly Paddles Work Best for Kids
Mini paddles aren’t necessary if you don’t want your kids to jam and thrash the water. However, over time, you might want to involve your kids in the canoeing experience just to get them excited about hitting the waters with their folks.
An example of a good canoe paddle is the YVLEEN Kids SUP Paddle (available on Amazon.com) that’s both lightweight and durable.
Set Clear Safety Rules
Besides being fun and adventure-packed, canoeing is also a great activity for instilling discipline. Your little ones should learn from an early age that, although fun, canoeing is also risky if safety measures aren’t observed.
As a result, you should set several safety rules for your children before launching.
Some of the rules include no standing up without permission, no jumping or leaning over the side, and no removal of a life jacket.
Keep Things Fun
Canoeing with kids can be loads of fun, but only if you ease the pressure and allow them to be. Practicing patience with children, especially if they’re first-timers, is crucial if you want them to remain interested in the fun sport.
Allow children to tag along with toys and snacks that can break the monotony associated with endless paddling.
Life Jackets Are a Must
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Olympic swimming medalist or a local diving hero. Wearing a life jacket when canoeing is a must, especially if you want to set a good example for children. Children need to understand the importance of observing safety rules from an early age as it goes a long way in ensuring they always prioritize safety when participating in watersports.
While there’s no minimum age limit for canoeing, it’s highly advisable to wait until your children are old enough to participate in the sport.
Children above 3 years will enjoy canoeing, especially if taken slow and allowed to have fun throughout the trip.
Remember to choose the waters wisely when canoeing with children. You should also keep a close eye on weather forecasts as the last thing you want is to take your little ones canoeing when windy, rainy, or extremely cold.