Getting on the water with a baby

Adjusting to life with a baby involves figuring out how to continue much loved activities, like getting out on the water during the warm-weather months. Boating is a big part of our summer, and a pastime we hoped to introduce our son to. 

photo credit: Millennial Mama blog

As a newborn and within the first few months, our son didn’t like his car seat – Was it too hot? Was it a wet or poopy diaper? Perhaps a general discomfort with being away from Mom? His fussiness in the car made it difficult for us to travel anywhere with baby.

Boating, we quickly learned, has a magical effect on babies. We first took our baby out on the boat at two weeks in order to introduce him to life on the water. The loud sound and vibrations of the motor coupled with the movement of the waves must have reminded our new baby of life in the womb where the loud beat of my heart accompanied his daily rhythms. In this way he always slept soundly on the boat, and great nighttime sleep resulted from these days of long naps and plenty of fresh air.

Travelling by water quickly became our preferred means of getting around with a newborn baby, and we came up with some creative ways to do so. We would boat to the town docks and walk to the nearby grocery store, buy ice cream cones, or pick up some wine for dinner with friends at the lakeside liquor store. Once we took weekend guests through waterways and locks to a restaurant only accessible by water. Another time we anchored on the shores of a popular island where we picnicked on snacks and enjoyed the company of other boaters. Feeling more adventurous, when Finn was seven weeks old we boated through a series of lakes to camp overnight on an island. Knowing Finn was comfortable boating at an early age gave us confidence in resuming our lifestyle outdoors.

photo credit: Millennial Mama blog

Here are some tips for boating with a baby

  1. Start them young. A baby accustomed to the sounds, smells and feeling associated with boating at a young age is less likely to develop anxious feelings about boating.

  1. Choose a good lifejacket. During our first boat ride, we borrowed a lifejacket that wasn’t a good fit for us. It rode high around our new baby’s head and was padded all around making it difficult to hold baby comfortably, making him fussy. Our infant lifejacket is made by Salus, which fits babies 9-25 pounds well and is easy to get on and off.

  1. Bring coverage against the elements. Grab a muslin blanket for even those hot days on the water. Wrapping your sleeping baby in the thin layer will help protect him from wind while on plane while still allowing breathability. Coverage from the blanket doubles as protection against sun exposure, especially when babies are too young for sunscreen.

  1. Take swimming lessons. When baby is old enough to do so (our private aquatics instructors recommended after 4 months) take swimming lessons to acquaint your baby with the feeling of water. Most babies love the weightlessness and comfort of water. It might surprise you how babies instinctually close their eyes and hold their breath come when submerged properly. Lessons will get baby ready for swimming and activate baby’s instinctual behavior in water.

  1. Have fun! Parents who are comfortable doing so will encourage children to enjoy boating as well. Be creative and boundless in how you and baby can explore lakes and waterways near you.

photo credit: Millennial Mama blog

Becoming parents is transformative, but having a baby doesn’t have to mean an end to much loved pastimes. We may have to rethink activities we used to do with ease, but with a little reimagining it’s certainly possible. You’ll be happier as a result and your baby will benefit from a richer life outdoors in nature.

What tips do you have for getting out in nature and back to activities you enjoy? Share your boating babes with #sweetstellas on Instagram.

Danielle is a high school teacher who is currently enjoying her days listening to baby boy giggles at her home by the water that she shares with the love of her life.

She and her family call lake country of Ontario, Canada home, where they spend their days on the water, walking in the woods, and living mindfully.

While always known for her devotion to reading and writing, motherhood inspires Danielle to tend to her passions and to unapologetically make meaning of her life.  She is mindful of the importance of wellness for herself, her household and the environment we all rely on.

Danielle is the writer and creator of the beautiful Millennial Mama blog.