It is Fourth of July and about 100 degrees here in Michigan this week. Our obvious thought would be that if we are outside we need to be near and/or in water. So, it was perfect timing when my parents called and invited us to join them boating on the lake.
We first took our daughter out on a boat when she was 3 months old. We did no more than putt slowly around the lake while she wore a life jacket specifically made for her weight and size the entire time. At that age, she slept the entire boat ride as Grandma cradled her. That was an easy trip.
Today, my daughter is nearing her first birthday. For some reason, it did not occur to me that a boating trip would be much harder at this age than at 3 months old. It is important to note that whenever a small child or infant is onboard our boat we are only driving slowly around a small calm lake.
She loves to move around now. She does not want to be held.
The boat ride started out nicely. Grandma was holding our daughter and she was content to watch the water and new scenery. Unfortunately, she quickly became bored of sitting in someone’s lap.
We are at the age where she is confidently crawling and getting ready to walk, which means she likes to pull up on everything. With her newfound independence, she does not tolerate being held for long periods of time. Unfortunately, on a boat there is limited space and there are many times when she needs to be held for safety reasons.
Possible Solutions: (1) If you have space on your boat, I have heard that some parents set up a play pen. (2) Pack lots of waterproof toys to keep your baby distracted.
Bottles are easy on a boat. Solids are a bit harder (and messier).
At a year old, our daughter is still drinking quite a few bottles. While on the boat, we keep the bottles in a cooler and our daughter drinks them cold.
It gets a bit trickier when your child is also learning to eat solids. She is not interested in puree and we typically feed her chopped up bits of whatever we are eating. Naturally, we decided to do the same with the sandwiches we had packed for lunch. The result was little bits of bread, chicken, and cheese all over the boat.
Possible Solutions: (1) Take along a baby food pouch which are often easier to feed and not as messy. (2) You could consider docking and having lunch at your house or a nearby park.
Napping is a struggle.
If you have recently had or been around a one year old, then you know that naps are still a very crucial part of their day. Without a nap, your adorable little sweetheart becomes a cranky, crying maniac. The added challenge of a one year old is that they often do not agree that they need a nap.
When nap time rolled around for our daughter she was clearly tired, however there was so much going on that she refused to shut her eyes. She cried for quite a while until she finally wore herself out enough to sleep. But then we had the added issue of where to put her to sleep. We ended up taking turns holding her under the canopy while she slept because there was not a good place to set her.
Possible Solutions: (1) A play pen could have helped with this. You could also bring a rocker or car seat for nap time. (2) Anchor for a bit during nap time and create a quiet area in the shade. This may eliminate a few distractions and make it easier for your baby to fall asleep.
We had a lot of fun on our boating trip. However, I may reconsider taking our daughter on a boating trip again until she is older. She may have enjoyed the day a bit more had we left her with a babysitter. If we do take her again, I will need to plan for it much better than I did this time.
Please note: According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety, an infant should not travel on a boat until they weigh at least 18 pounds and can wear a personal flotation device (PFD). You should test the PFD beforehand to ensure that it fits and operates properly.
I’m curious about a few different things for those of you have children:
What age did you start boating with your child?
What age did boating become easier with your child?