A Complete Guide To Sailing With Toddlers

Paul Stockdale Author Avatar
Written by Paul Stockdale | January 24, 2023
Sailing With Toddlers

Sailing with kids and toddlers means ensuring they are safe, comfortable, entertained and able to sleep easily when onboard the sailboat.

Safety is the most important priority when a toddler is onboard the sailboat.

To sail with toddlers:

  1. Ensure the toddler weighs 18 pounds or more
  2. Consult with a pediatrician about toddler seasickness
  3. Bring baby safety gear on the sailing trip
  4. Create a safe sleeping area onboard for the toddler
  5. Bring baby food & diapers on the sailing trip
  6. Get baby entertainment items for the boat trip
  7. Ensure there are at least 2 adults onboard

Following these steps will ensure the child has a comfortable and enjoyable sailing trip.

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1. Ensure The Toddler Weighs 18 Pounds Or More

The first step for sailing with toddlers is to ensure the toddler weighs 18 pounds or more.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, any baby that weighs 18 pounds or more can go on a recreational boat.

A baby that weighs less than 18 pounds can not go on a recreational boat. A minimum of 18 pounds weight is required to ensure that a toddler's life jacket fits and works effectively.

This U.S. Coast Guard rule for toddlers must be followed. Failure to comply with this rule can result in a parent or boat owner being fined, penalized, or imprisoned.


2. Consult With A Pediatrician About Toddler Seasickness

The second step of sailing with toddlers is to consult with a local pediatrician about toddler seasickness prior to going on the sailing trip.

A toddler can get seasick like any human. A parent should consult with a pediatrician to get advice.

The benefits of consulting with a pediatrician before the sailing trip are the doctor will recommend medication that will help a toddler in the event they get seasick when out sailing and a pediatrician will provide useful information on steps to make a baby more comfortable in the event they are seasick.

A visit to the pediatrician for toddler seasick advice prior to a sailing trip will cost approximately $150 in the United States.

Seasick medication for toddlers will cost approximately $50.

A visit to the pediatrician should occur before going on the toddler's first sailing trip. This ensures a parent is prepared and ready from the outset.

3. Bring Baby Safety Gear On The Sailing Trip

The third step of sailing with toddlers is to bring baby safety gear on the sailing trip. Safety items for a toddler's sailing trip will help to reduce the risks.

There are 8 great baby boat gear items that will increase a toddler's safety onboard.

Baby safety items to bring on a sailing trip include:

  • Baby life jacket: Get a U.S. Coast Guard approved top life jacket for the toddler. The life jacket should fit the toddler perfectly. Ensure the life jacket is compatible with your child's weight
  • Sunscreen: Bring a strong sunscreen with an SPF 50+ to protect the toddler's skin from sunburn
  • A hat: A UV protective hat is needed to help protect the toddler from harmful UV rays from the sun. A hat will assist in preventing sunburn too
  • Armbands: Armbands are needed if the baby will be swimming. They will help a toddler to stay afloat in the water. They should be worn with a life jacket. They are not a replacement for a life jacket
  • Sunglasses: Toddler sunglasses are needed to help protect a toddler's eyes from bright sunlight or from the bright reflective light on the seawater
  • Seasick medicine: Bring seasick medication on the sailing trip to help stop the toddler from being seasick
  • One-piece swimsuit: Bring a one-piece swimsuit that covers the toddler's body. This swimsuit will help protect against sunburn to the body and be more comfortable for the toddler to wear on warm sunny days in hotter temperatures
  • Baby jacket: Bring a baby jacket on the sailing trip to help keep the toddler warm and dry in the event of bad weather
  • First aid kit: Ensure the sailboat has a first aid kit onboard. If not, get a first aid kit to bring as this will help with injuries a toddler may suffer onboard the sailboat

The benefits of bringing baby safety items on the sailing trip are it will help ensure a toddler is safe onboard, it will help with stopping a toddler from drowning, it will protect a toddler's skin from the sun and it will keep a toddler warm in colder temperatures.

One disadvantage of bringing baby safety items on the sailing trip is carrying all the items onboard the sailboat can be uncomfortable and time-consuming. However, this is a small price to pay and the benefits far outweigh the one disadvantage.

The cost of the baby safety items needed for a toddler's sailing trip is approximately $150.

4. Create A Safe Sleeping Area Onboard For The Toddler

The fourth step of sailing with toddlers is to create a safe sleeping area onboard the boat for the baby to relax and sleep easily.

To create a safe sleeping area for toddlers on a sailing trip, get a portable baby sleeper. Put the baby sleeper in a spacious and safe area on the boat. Ensure there is a blanket and pillow for the toddler to relax on. Securely strap the baby sleeper down to one area to ensure it doesn't move around or fall over in rough seas. Ideally, put the baby sleeper below the deck.

If the toddler is sleeping below the deck, check the temperature to ensure it is not too hot or too cold.

The room temperature for a baby to sleep on a sailing trip should be between 68° and 72°F (20° to 22°C).

If the baby sleeper is above deck, ensure there is a canopy area to shield the sun from the toddler's face as they sleep.

If the baby will be sleeping out of sight of the parents, attach a baby monitor to the baby sleeper so a parent can ensure the toddler is safe by monitoring the toddler as they sleep.

A portable baby sleeper will enable the toddler to comfortably sleep and rest on the sailing trip.

The cost of getting a baby sleeper for the toddler to sleep safely on a sailing trip is between $80 and $120.

5. Bring Baby Food & Diapers On The Sailing Trip

The fifth step of sailing with toddlers is to bring baby food and diapers on the sailing trip.

Parents will need to bring a sufficient amount of diapers and food for the entirety of the sailing trip.

A 180 packet of diapers can be purchased for $55 and baby food costs $4 to $6 per packet.

Ensure there is cooking equipment like a microwave or oven onboard to cook food or heat a bottle of milk before setting off on the sailing trip. This is especially important if the sailing trip is longer than 3 hours.

6. Get Baby Entertainment Gear For The Boat Trip

The sixth step of sailing with toddlers is to get baby entertainment items for the boat trip.

To keep a baby entertained on a sailing trip, get them baby toys to play with or download cartoons on a viewing device for them to watch.

The baby entertainment gear to get for a toddler's sailing trip are:

  • Waterproof baby toys: Get waterproof baby toys for toddlers to play with while on a sailing trip. This will help to entertain the toddlers
  • Cartoon movies & cartoon TV shows: Download cartoon movies and TV shows so toddlers can watch them on a TV, phone, or tablet device if they are bored on a sailing trip

Baby entertainment items for a sailing trip will cost approximately $25.

7. Ensure There Are At Least 2 Adults On The Sailing Trip

The seventh step of sailing with toddlers is to ensure there are at least 2 adults on the sailboat during the trip.

There should be a minimum of two adults onboard when sailing with toddlers because one adult will need to focus on operating the sailboat while the other adult can focus on taking care of the toddler.

If there is only one adult with the toddler, they will not be able to focus on both the toddler's safety and operating the sailboat safely so having just one adult on a toddler's sailing trip should be avoided.

Sailing With Toddlers Checklist

Below is a checklist to use when sailing with toddlers.

Sailing With Toddler Checklist Items Completed [Yes or No]
Ensure the toddler weighs 18 lbs or more [ ]
Consult with pediatrician about toddler seasickness [ ]
Bring baby safety items (Life Jacket, Toddler Medication, Sunscreen, First Aid Kit etc.) [ ]
Bring sleeping equipment onboard (baby sleeper) [ ]
Get baby food & diapers [ ]
Get baby entertainment items (toys, cartoons, etc.) [ ]
Ensure a minimum of 2 adults are onboard [ ]
Ensure there is a microwave for heating food or bottles [ ]
Bring a toddler jacket incase of cold weather [ ]
Check the weather conditions before leaving the dock [ ]
Carry the child onboard with no other items in your hand [ ]

Frequently Asked Questions About Sailing With Toddlers

Below are the most commonly asked questions about sailing with toddlers.

Can A Baby Get Seasick When Sailing?

Yes, a baby can get seasick like all humans. It's important to have the correct medicine onboard the sailboat in the event that the toddler is seasick.

When Is The Best Time To Sail With A Toddler?

The best time to sail with toddlers is in the spring and summer months of April until the end of September when the weather is better and the sea is calmer.

When Is The Worst Time To Sail With A Toddler?

The worst time to sail with a toddler is in the winter months of December until the end of February when the temperatures are much colder and the sea is rough.

Is Sailing With Toddlers Safe?

Yes, sailing with toddlers is safe provided the parents take all the necessary precautions. To keep a baby safe when sailing, ensure there are baby safety items onboard, ensure there is a comfortable sleeping area for the toddler, ensure the weather is not bad or stormy, ensure there is plenty of baby food and there are baby entertainment items to keep the toddler is happy and entertained.

Can You Sail With A Toddler In A Storm?

Yes, a toddler can travel on the sailboat in a storm but this is not recommended and it should be avoided due to the increased risks associated with sailing in a storm.

Can You Sail With A 1-Year-Old Toddler?

Yes, a 1-year-old toddler can sail on a sailboat provided they weigh 18 pounds or more.

What Are The Benefits Of Sailing With Toddlers?

The benefits of sailing with toddlers are:

  • Great way for parents to bond with children
  • Can help a toddler with their cognitive and physical development
  • Create new fun experiences for the toddler

What Are The Risks Of Sailing With Toddlers?

The risks of sailing with toddlers are:

  • The toddler gets sick out at sea
  • The toddler falls overboard
  • Being distracted by toddlers results in the sailboat not being operated properly

What Are The Costs Of Sailing With Toddlers?

The costs of sailing with toddlers are:

  • Seasick Medication: Medication to prevent or assist a toddler with seasickness costs approximately $50
  • Diapers: A sufficient amount of diapers is required when on a sailing trip with toddlers. A large packet of diapers with 180 diapers inside the packet will cost approximately $55
  • Baby Food: A sufficient amount of baby food is required for the toddler's sailing trip. Baby food costs approximately $4 to $6 per packet
  • Baby Life Jacket: A U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket is required for the toddler on a sailing trip. A toddler's life jacket will cost approximately $60. This price will vary based on the size of the baby
  • Baby Sunscreen: A strong sunscreen, ideally SPF 50+, is required to prevent the baby from getting sunburned on the sailing trip. Sunscreen for babies will cost approximately $20
  • Baby Sunglasses: Baby sunglasses will cost approximately $20
  • Baby Hat: A baby hat will cost $10
  • Baby One-Piece Swimsuit: A one-piece baby swimsuit will cost approximately $35
  • Armbands: Armbands will cost approximately $15
  • Baby Boat Sleeper: A baby boat sleeper is a place for a toddler to sleep comfortably. This will cost approximately $80 to $120
  • Baby Jacket: A baby jacket is needed to keep the toddler warm in cooler climates. This jacket will cost approximately $40
  • Baby Toys: Toys for toddlers on a sailing trip will cost approximately $30
  • First Aid Kit: A first aid kit for a toddler on a sailing trip will cost approximately $30

The total cost of sailing with toddlers is approximately $400. This total cost covers all the items listed above including baby safety items and general baby items like food and diapers.

Please note that the majority of these toddler items are once-off costs that will need to be paid only once and can be used on multiple sailing trips.

Most parents will already have a lot of these items available which should help reduce the cost.

When Should You Avoid Sailing With A Toddler?

Sailing with a toddler should be avoided when there is only one adult onboard the boat as the one adult will be distracted with operating the vessel and sailing with a toddler should also be avoided when the weather is bad, stormy, windy and the sea is rough too.

How Many Adults Should There Be Onboard When Sailing With A Toddler?

There should be a minimum of two adults onboard when sailing with a toddler. One adult will focus on operating the boat while the second adult will focus on taking care of the toddler and keeping them safe and out of danger.

Can Toddlers Live On A Sailboat?

Yes, toddlers can live on a sailboat provided they weigh 18 pounds or more and have all the required items to live onboard the sailboat.

Are Toddlers Required To Wear Life Jackets?

Yes, the U.S. Coast Guard states that all persons onboard a recreational boat must wear a life jacket when out on the water. This requirement applies to all people including toddlers.