Kayaking With Kids: Dos and Don’ts

Taking your children anywhere could be quite the hassle; so much planning and preparation are required so that you can control them and their behavior. How about taking them out on a kayak onto the water for a significant length of time? 

Now, that’s what we call an adventure, and arranging for it involves so many aspects that you have to be highly diligent about in order to ensure the safety of everyone on board.

Swimming Lessons 

This is the start of everything. The general rule is that kids shouldn’t be allowed out kayaking unless they are at an age when they can swim. That is, of course, for their safety and for you to have peace of mind.

Hence, your child will, at the very least, be capable of handling themself in the water and is comfortable with such an environment. So, swimming lessons are essential before introducing your child to the kayak and its different parts.


The fact that our children can swim doesn’t mean that they’re prepared to face the water all by themselves. Water accidents happen all the time, every day, to people who are experts. Hence, it’s better safe than sorry! 

PFD is mandatory for kayaking or being anywhere in the water where you can’t stand on the ground. PFD, or Personal Flotation Devices, depends on the age, weight, and size of the child. 

If they weigh up to 30 lbs, they’ll need infant PFD, 30-50 lbs will need child PFD, 50-90 lbs will need youth PFD, anything higher than that will go with adult PFD. 

Let’s start with the PFD designed for infants and children, as these two types come with specific modifications to ensure the safety of these tender ages. Firstly, we’ve got neck and head support to prevent the damage of whiplash from falling into the water, and to lift the head above the level of the water preventing suffocation and drowning. 

Moreover, they’re designed with crotch straps so that the jacket doesn’t move or rise with the constant activity of your child. Lastly, they also come with grab handles so that you can pick your child out of the water and pull them back to safety.

Now, let’s head onto the youth category, and the PFD designed for them has one specific feature that makes it stand out; it prevents its wearer from flipping on their face; hence, protecting the airway and allowing them to breeze even if they’re unconscious.

Kayak Type

The variety of kayak types is impressive, to say the least. Shopping for a kayak that you can put your child on can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ll talk about the main categories of kayaks that can work for you and your kids.

In a nutshell, kayaks are divided according to two categories. They can be solo or tandem, depending on the age of your child and whether or not they can paddle. 

The second category is the sitting position. So, it’s either a flat kayak that you will Sit-On-Top of it with your legs in front of you, or it’s a Sit-Inside kayak with a chamber for your lower half.

Solo vs. Tandem

As we’ve mentioned before, going with a solo or a tandem kayak depends on the age of your child and whether or not they can paddle. If they can’t, then there is no point in dragging the extra weight with you. A solo kayak will do the job just fine since you’ll be doing all of the work anyway.

On the other hand, your child is bound to grow and start taking more space. If you wish for them to continue accompanying you on your kayaking trips, a tandem kayak will work best for this scenario. It’ll function more efficiently for a longer period, and your child will have their own place to sit and more freedom of movement.

Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-Inside

When you decide to take your child kayaking, you’d want to focus on their safety more than anything else. Consequently, a sit-on-top kayak is our choice for kayaking with the little people. 

Let us explain why. Sit-on-top kayaks are easier to handle in all situations; getting on the kayak, getting off the kayak, righting it if it tips over, and dragging your child to place them on top of the kayak again.

Moreover, it’s lighter and smaller, so you can carry it to and from your truck with relative ease and without the need for help from anyone.

On the other hand, sit-inside kayaks are designed for experienced kayakers who know what they’re doing very well and plan longer trips with specific goals such as fishing, camping, etc. Subsequently, they’re not very suitable for moody children who just want to explore everything.


Picking out the right paddles is simple yet essential. Normally, children’s paddles are around 200 cm in length; nevertheless, there’s a ton of different materials, shapes, and designs of paddles on the market.

Try to have your child pick out what suits them best; of course, you’ll be supervising this process. Still, when they choose a particular set of paddles, they’ll feel connected to it and be way more excited about them than when you force them to deal with something they don’t essentially like.


Going out with a child anywhere involves a ton of planning and packing. You must have everything they might need on you to avoid tantrums and accidents. The same goes for kayaking with little people, and we’ll walk you through the essentials that must be present on your kayak.


Food and water are a necessity whenever you go out kayaking, even on your own. You must keep yourself and your children adequately fueled so that you can enjoy the trip and maintain your strength. 

Exposure to the elements, sun, water, dust, and wind will take a toll on you, and the only way to conquer all of that is by having a steady flow of high-energy food and water. Keep in mind that dehydration is a huge problem that faces kayakers every day.


Even with a spray skirt, your children’s constant activity and movement might get them wet. Staying in wet clothes is never a good thing for children. They’ll get moody, and eventually, sick. Tantrums will be waiting for you just around the corner. So, the only logical solution is to have an extra set of clothes to change into whenever needed.


A ton of things fall under this category, and according to your own habits, you’ll arrange them according to priority in relation to your storage space, 

So, first of all, you’d want to make sure that you’ve got your first-aid kit just in case any injury befalls anyone. You also want to have a utility knife, a torch, some extra tow ropes, and emergency whistles in order to attract attention to yourself and your child if ever needed. 

Furthermore, accidents can happen anywhere and at any given moment, which can include losing or breaking a paddle. Consequently, if your storage place allows it, an extra pair can make a world of difference to you and your child.

Final Thoughts 

To sum up, kayaking with kids can be one of the best experiences that you can have with your little ones. With so much time on your hands together out on the water, you can enjoy exploring, camping, birdwatching, fishing, or simply spend quiet quality time.

It can also be spent improving their swimming capabilities in more natural vicinities, which is definitely much more enjoyable than swimming pools.

The thing is, you must be fully prepared for anything that might happen. Keep your child within your eyesight at all times, and it’s much preferable to keep the ratio of child to adult at 1:1.

You Can Also Check:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top