Sailing With Toddlers [Everything To Know]

Sailing with toddlers is by far the most important "cargo" on any sailing trip. But what exactly should you know about sailing with toddlers or kids? Setting sail and exploring the world can be a wonderful and exciting adventure but it's also you're prepared when sailing with the kids.

Once you're aware of the rules, safety requirements and general information, it's a very exciting trip with your toddler. So what's going to be covered? 


This article will answer some common concerns you most likely have including: 


·    Can a newborn baby go on a boat 

·    Do babies get seasick 

·    Sailing with kids safety 

·    Toddler sleeping on a boat 

·    Can you take a 1-year-old on a boat 

·    Do babies need to wear life jackets on boats

·    What age can babies wear a life jacket 

·    How to keep a baby safe on a boat 

·    Toddler on a catamaran 

·    Sailing Holiday with babies (things to know)

·    BVI sailing with kids


While you might think we've plucked these topics from thin air, we haven't. These are some of the most frequent questions we get asked so figured we'd cover them all here in our sailing with toddlers and kids guide. 


While not all the topics discussed will be relevant to everyone, I think we can all universally agree that toddler safety is by far the most important thing. 


This will be the number one priority on any sailing trip with kids so you should always take precautions. 


Toddlers tend to be active (especially babies beginning to walk) Now imagine them attempting their walking with all the hazards a sailboat brings including the swaying back and forth.


Heck, even us adults struggle to walk on a boat! But the dangers for toddlers and kids on a boat are 100 times more than the average car or house which is why this article will have a lot of safety issues to make sure you're on top of.


So let's get into it. First up, we'll go through some common questions any concerned parent will have when sailing with toddlers. 


Can a newborn baby go on a boat ?

According to the US Coast Guard, an infant needs to weigh at least 18 pounds before going on a boat. Typically, an infant needs to be this minimum weight so they can fit into a specially sized lifejacket. 


A child will weigh 18 pounds usually after 3 months or sometimes less. So when you want to bring your newborn baby on a sailboat, you'll need to keep this in mind. 


As this is directly from the US coast guard, it's something you shouldn't take lightly. 


Rules from having newborns on a boat may vary in other countries so you should consult your local coast guard operator for more information. 


Again, we cannot emphasize this enough. Be very clear that a baby under 18 pounds should not be on a sailboat. We can keep the little ones safe but not being able to have a life jacket that'll fit them will obviously have some very dangerous repercussions. 


Just wait the few months until they can have a life jacket that will fit them. 

Since we get this particular question so often, we decided to answer it here:

Can you take a 1-year-old on a boat? Yes, any baby that weighs over 18 pounds can be taken on a boat. They must have a US coast guard approved life jacket with them on the boat. 

Do babies get seasick?

Yes. A baby can get seasick so it's something you need to be aware of as a parent. Consult with your doctor to ensure your child is ready to set sail. 

Doctors will provide you with all the information you need around your child being seasick and possible medication but as we are not doctors, we cannot provide medication advice and will instead leave that to the professionals. 

But be aware, it is something you should most definitely be prepared for. Seasickness is horrible at any age but an infant with seasickness is a particularly horrible experience for both your child and you. 

The worry will be just as bad for you as your child's sickness is to them so to be on the safe side when sailing with toddlers, go to your Doctor and get all the medical answers you need BEFORE hitting the waters. 

It's better to be prepared and know what to expect than to try figuring it out as it happens. Something we wouldn't recommend. 

Sailing with kids safety

We'll dig into safety precautions you should take when you've a child on-board. 

As everyone knows, being on the water has it's added dangers and should not be taken lightly. 

Safety is paramount at all times as children like to explore as we all know. 

As we mentioned above, toddlers and older children can get seasick so the very first thing you should do is consult a doctor for advice/medication to prevent this. 

Another thing you'll need is plenty of sun-cream (depending on location) but still an important item to have that people tend to forget. 

Again, your doctor will know the best sun cream to get for your child to keep them protecting from nasty and sore sunburn. You'll also want to brush up on your fire safety skills to ensure you're prepared in the unfortunate event of a fire on board.

Do babies need to wear life jackets on a boat? 

sailing with toddlers safety

Yes, it's wise to have your baby in their life jacket at all times when on a boat.

This is for both your child's safety and general peace of mind and keeps you prepared for the worst which hopefully will not happen. 

Obviously, if your child is in a bouncer chair on-board or you are changing them, they won't need their life jackets strapped on.  If you need to buy a life jacket for your child, you can check out our list of the best life jackets for inspiration.

Toddler sleeping on a boat 

A fold-able co-sleeper is a great choice for toddlers sleeping on a boat. We want to keep them snug and safe and this is a great option. You can get a foldable co-sleeper on amazon for $40 -$60 

As cabins on boats tend to be small, these are the perfect solution for your child. 

Make sure you have warm blankets for the night as it tends to get cold. 

Entertainment on-board

You'll want to keep your child entertained with their favorite toys, books or movies. This is crucial. While we adults will love the sights and scenery, a toddler generally won't care so having their favorite items on-board is a must. 

Oh and don't forget to bring their safety blanket or teddy bear too or your baby will most likely let their feelings be known. You can get sailing games and other boat gear for babies to keep them happy and entertained.

Sailing Holidays With Babies (Things To Know)

So you're looking to enjoy a sailing holiday with your baby, that's awesome. But what are some important things you'll need to know before setting sail with the little ones: 

  • Visit your doctor and get all the professional advice about your child and seasickness/medication etc. 
  • Ensure your toddler is heavy enough to fit into a life jacket (typically 18 pounds) 
  • Make sure you're prepared for getting on-board the boat with your baby in your arms. This can be tricky with a person on their own let alone carrying a child on so have someone go ahead of you ensure there's a place with plenty of space to carry your child on. 
  • As we any place, make sure you have entertainment on board. Otherwise, you'll have an angry/upset baby. (simple toys, movies, etc.)
  • Make sure you have the right supply of baby food before setting sail. The last thing you want is to be out at sea only to realize you forgot to pack the baby food (it has happened) 
  • If your child is a bit older and can swim, bring a swimming hat (this can help with sunburn) 
  • Speaking of sunburn, make sure you have strong sun-cream, (Your doctor will provide you with all the information on this) 
  • Bring plenty of diapers so your toddler doesn't have any stinky surprises ruining their clothes. 
  • Make sure your toddlers sleeping arrangements are right next to you and they are strapped into a bed/cot securely. With the swaying of sailboats, they can easily move around so keep this in mind. 

That's about it for a checklist. If you can think of anything else, great. As we constantly repeat, it's better to be safe and prepared. 

However, once you're set up and ready to go, the most important thing you can do is have fun and enjoy! It should be a wonderful sailing holiday with your toddler. 

BVI Sailing With A Toddler

British Virgin Island sailing with a toddler can be a wonderful experience for you and the family.

If this is your vacation destination to hit the water, make sure you follow the steps above and ensure you have plenty of sunscreen. Yes, we've mentioned this a lot but it's very important to keep your toddlers skin protected from the sun. 

Living On A Boat With A Toddler 

If you're planning on living on a boat with a toddler, here are some useful tips.

You can also check this helpful video below if you'd prefer a more visual guide and meet the star of the show, little Emma. 

Tip 1: Get an inflatable bath (this helps with being able to store it on a boat as space is limited. 

Tip 2: Get a bay seat to help support the baby as they might not be able to support themselves

Tip 3: Create a simple play area (your toddlers safe zone)

Tip 4: Get a washing machine for your boat. You can find one for use on an RV as this will be similar to what you'd need on a boat 

Tip 5: Get a dvd player. This will help keep your child entertained and give you some rest

Tip 6: Have a potty. Once your precious toddler starts to learn how to use the toilet on their own, they're going to need a potty. 

Tip 7: Feeding supplies. You'll need lots of baby formula .

Sailing With Toddlers Checklist

In case you forget, here's a checklist of everything you need and needs to be done when sailing with a todder:

  1. Consult A Doctor (For seasickness advice, etc.)
  2. Buy strong sun-cream
  3. Bring entertainment for kids (books, toys etc.)
  4. Bring sleeping equipment on-board
  5. Have your baby food 
  6. Ensure you have baby safety items (life jacket, appropriate clothing, etc.)
  7. Bring all the diapers you need for the trip
  8. Have first aid kits on-board in case your toddler has any accidents.
  9. A healthy dose of common sense
  10. Don't forget to enjoy!

Use the checklist above and stay prepared.

You'll also need to be sure you sailboat is kid friendly if you plan on living onboard. You can check out our 10 best sailboats to live on for ideas on boat options.


As we've shown. sailing with toddlers can be a fun and enjoyable experience but there are obvious safety concerns to worry about. 

Making sure your child has their own US Coast Guard-approved life jacket is important. 


Other things like seasickness is another concern for the little ones. We might be immune to it with years of experience but our baby's tummies mightn't be able to cope with it. 


As we mentioned, consult a professional doctor about seasickness with toddlers. They'll have all the health-related information you'll need. 


Having your children out on the open seas with you can be an amazing experience, both for you and them but you must never forget the dangers of boats. We don't like to be fear-mongering but just clear that you're aware of sailing with your young children. 

Maybe you'd like to enjoy a boating trip with your children but don't own a boat? Well, you can rent a boat for a great price and enjoy a day on the water.