Outdoor Activities: Kayaking with a Toddler

Outdoor Activities for Kids: Kayaking with a Toddler

This summer was our first experience taking our little squirt out in a boat. With my husband’s lack of gusto for kayaking, I took on this adventure with my father and younger brother. We used kayaks from my workplace with each adult using their own and the little one (in theory) riding on my lap.


As many outdoor enthusiasts know, kayaking and canoeing can be challenging with transportation. First, you have to drop off your boat at the entry location. Then you have to drop off a vehicle to the take-out location that can transport the boaters as well as the boats. If you are bringing along a toddler, or any young child, I would suggest bringing along something to help entertain them while the other adults transport boats and vehicles. I had brought along our little one’s nets for just the occasion and we passed the time catching frogs and toads by the river side.


Once we entered the water the little one was overjoyed by the movement of the boat on the water as well as the idea of paddling. She instinctively grabbed a hold of the paddle and moved it up and down. Since rivers have flow, I allowed her to do this unaided except for the times when there was an obstacle that we needed to steer around. Since kayaks are so low to the water, our little one decided she wanted to feel the water as we traveled, so she would lean over and drag her hand through the water; I compensated by moving to the opposite side of my seat so we didn’t flip.


The unfortunate part about kayaking with a toddler was that she was not content with staying in one boat the entire time. She hopped from my boat to her uncle’s boat a few times which was a bit of a pain. Every time she wanted to switch boats we would have to land on the bank and pass her off without (a) dropping her in the water or (b) tipping over the boats. Once she was content, however, we saw a lot of wildlife and she got the opportunity to experience nature in a way she never had before.


Once we reached the take-out location we had the problem of transportation again. We had traveled three river miles meaning that our entry location was relatively close, but we didn’t have enough space or car seats for all of us to hop in and travel back to our other car. That being said, the little one and I stayed at our take-out location while my brother and father took the boats and brought back my car. Luckily, we planned a take-out location that had a spray park so my little one was able to stay cool and have fun while we waited for her uncle.

After all was said and done, we had a great time! However, next time we boat, I think I’m going to pop her into a canoe so that she can roam freely in the boat without the potential for tippage as well as being close to two people instead of one. If you decide to take your toddler boating, make sure to:

  • Have them wear a life jacket
  • Provide them something to do during down time
  • Bring a water bottle for you and them
  • Lather on the sunscreen
  • Bring a hat
  • Let them have a chance to paddle
  • Have fun!!!

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