Paddle boarding is a fun and relaxing water sport. Because of this, it’s the perfect “day at the lake” activity for the whole family. Many children enjoy the ride on a board as long as they are comfortable with the water and know how to swim.
Only you will know the right time to introduce your little ones to a SUP board but if you’ve found this article then you’re probably getting excited about the idea! Let’s start with the equipment and safety essentials.
Basic Paddle Boarding Gear
- Stand Up Paddle Board: You can’t paddle board without a paddle board. If you are looking for a new board and intend to take a child along, try looking for one that is wider and more buoyant.
- Paddle: Because there will be someone else on the board with you, it may make it easier to have a longer SUP paddle. You could also get a smaller paddle for your kid to allow them to help paddle.
- Leash: It’s not only a good idea for you to have a SUP leash but also your child. If the board tips and you both fall, then you know that they aren’t very far from the board. And since you are attached to the board too, no one gets lost.
- Waterproof Storage: You always want to bring your phone, a camera, some snacks and water, and even a small first aid kid. You also need to keep these things dry. A waterproof storage SUP bag is perfect for this.
Essential Safety Gear
- Personal Flotation Device, PFD: A life vest, or PFD, is a vital piece of safety gear. Even if not required by law where you are paddle boarding, you always want to wear one. They should also fit properly. Be sure your child’s PFD is the right size and is worn correctly.
- Whistle: Not only should everyone who’s in the water have a whistle with them, but they should also know how and when to use it so people can find them if they need help.
- First Aid Kit: Even a small first aid kit can come in handy. Always keep one with your paddle boarding gear.
- Sun Protection: Everyone, both adults and children, should be wearing waterproof sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect from the sun.
- Water and Snacks: You can easily become dehydrated and run out of energy while paddle boarding. It’s a whole-body workout. This is especially true when you have extra weight on your board. Also, be sure you have enough water and snacks for everyone, kids included.
FOR SAFETY: Always be sure that young kids are being observed by an adult. Even if they know how to swim or they’ve been to that location many times, they should always be supervised.
Tip #1: Always Review Safety Rules Before Getting in the Water
Whether it’s your first time paddle boarding with children or you’ve done it a hundred times, you should always go over the rules. You can choose to go over them before leaving the house or once you get to the location but everyone should be on the same page.
Tip #2: Make Sure They Know How to Swim
A child who isn’t comfortable swimming or being in the water isn’t going to be comfortable on a paddle board either. It’s worth taking the time to get your kids adjusted to the water before introducing them to a SUP.
Tip #3: Choose the Right Location
When your child is still getting used to the SUP, you want to be in a location where it’s calm with very few strong currents or waves. You also want to make sure you have plenty of open space to explore.
Tip #4: Always be Encouraging
It can take some time for a young child to get used to a SUP. Instead of getting upset with them or forcing them to continue, it’s important to be encouraging. If they are done exploring for the day, let them be done exploring for the day.
If they are interested in being on the board on their own and you feel they could do it with some practice, help them out just like you would help them learn how to ride a bike.
Tip #5: Check the Weather and Water Conditions Before You Leave
If your kids are hyped up about going paddle boarding only to get there and the conditions aren’t right, you are going to have some cranky kids on your hands. You also don’t want to be caught in bad weather that rolls in while you’re there. Check before you leave.
Tip #6: Splash Around in the Water First
Most kids are more open to trying fun, new things if they are already in the process of having fun. Take some time to splash around in the shallow water for a bit or even set up a couple of beach games to get them in the mood to be adventurous.
Tip #7: Use a Wider SUP
A wider SUP board will be more stable on the water which will help if your child moves around a lot or is having trouble keeping their balance. It will also give more room for both of you to fit comfortably on the board. WHile there are no specific SUPs made to take your child, a SUP designed for yoga is a good choice because they tend to be wider and more stable than a typical all around paddle board.
Tip #8: Help Them on the Board First
The kid should always be the first one on the board. This is the perfect time to teach them the proper way to climb onto the board and get seated just as if they were getting on their own board. This will also make them more comfortable with the movement of the board as you climb onto it after them. At first, they may feel like they are going to fall off.
Tip #9: Consider Using a SUP Seat
It’s still possible to go paddle boarding with young children with the help of some equipment. A SUP seat can come in many forms so finding the best one for you might take some time. But a seat can allow them to enjoy the ride while keeping your hands free to paddle.
Tip #10: Stay Away from Currents
While you might be comfortable handling a strong current, the young one on your board most likely isn’t. If they get scared during an early experience on a SUP, they may not be open to trying it again. If they do try it again, it may take some time to build that trust back up.
When you first start out stand up paddle boarding with kids, take it slow and make the ride as peaceful as possible
Bonus Tip: Have Fun!
The goal of any water sport is to have fun. Introducing this fun to your children can be rewarding for both you and them especially if it’s done right. Start teaching them those basic safety rules, start gathering all your SUP equipment, and plan your next day at the water. This time? Bring the kids along!