Paddle Boarding For Kids – Essential Tips
If you’re into paddle boarding then you’ll no doubt be aware that it continues to grow in popularity making it one of the faster growing water sports globally. Beyond getting yourself out on your board to get in that exercise routine and soak up some sun, its worth considering that paddle boarding is also a great family activity that can be enjoyed with the kids.
Whilst definitely a great idea, its important that you recognise some of the essential safety tips and ‘how tos’ before you get the kids out on the water.
Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations:
Like all recreational water activities, you can not put a price on your safety and more so when it comes to your children.
Your Child should be able to Swim – it might seem like common sense but its inevitable that kids will fall in the water so being able to swim even if at a very basic level is very important. If they were to panic when their face went under water for instance you can imagine how this will stifle their confidence so ensuring that they are comfortable in the water is a great place to start.
Personal Flotation Devise – wearing a PDF or life jacket is a non-negotiable so make sure that they have a well fitted comfortable PDF on. Get them use to floating and playing in the waster with it before you set off on your board.
Your Competency on a Board – before you think about bringing your kids out make sure that you yourself are comfortable on your board and have a practical understanding and feel for paddling. Adding on the additional and often unstable weight of your child will make things more difficult so make sure you are comfortable with the fundamentals of your board and paddling.
Water & Weather Conditions – as should be the case for all beginners, paddling in calm flat water conditions is advisable. Make sure that there are no strong currents or waves and try to avoid windy conditions. It is also best to start out in an area where there isn’t too much water traffic (boats or other water craft) as this too can create choppy waters and increase the risk of an accident.
Sun Protection – even in overcast conditions, make sure that you and your kids are wearing suitable protective water attire and slap on the sunscreen. Common sense once again but of even more importance when out on the water given the suns reflective rays.
Paddle Board Leash – leashes are essential for all paddlers as it will ensure that you and your board are not separated if and when you fall into the water.
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Paddling on the Same Board with Your Child
Before your kids set out on their own paddling adventures, its important that you have taken them out yourself so they can get a feel for the overall experience. Ensure that your board is sufficiently large enough so it can accommodate the additional weight. Overloading your board will affect its overall buoyancy, stability and manoeuvrability so you may be putting yourself as well as your child in a dangerous position if your board is not appropriate.
When setting off from a calm water area, have your child get on first and take up a seated position in the centre of the board – a little in front of where you would stand noting that you will be adjusting your position slightly as you factor in their weight. Once they get comfortable with their balance they can then kneel up or move between both seated and kneeling positions.
Once your child is settled then you should hop on your board as well and then start paddling. If easier start off in a kneeling position yourself and then stand once comfortable.
Is Your Child Paddling On Their Own Board?
Distinct from having kids sit with you as a passenger on your board, if they are ready to set out on the water themselves then here are a few important tips that you should take on board. These are in addition to the above mentioned safety tips.
The Board – children’s paddle boards are typically smaller than a standard paddle board in both length and thickness. They will therefore sit a little lower in the water making them easier to climb back on after a spill. As they are also lighter they will be easier for kids to carry and generally manoeuvre and play around with.
If your looking to buy a board you should look for one that is a little bigger than what they need so it will suit them as they grow. Inflatable boards are preferable as they are lighter in weight and offer a softer surface to paddle and play on when compared to a solid or rigid board.
Kids boards are cheaper than adults boards although you do get what you pay for. Useless you are under a tight budget you should look for a board that is made from quality drop-stitch materials with a highly durable deck pad given that it will take a bit of a beating – kids will be kids after all.
There are a whole host of boards available and from many reputable manufacturers so do your research giving consideration to both budget and quality.
Amazon have a great range of entry level and up boards from many well rated manufacturers. If you’re in the market are are looking to get your feet wet then here’s a nice cross-section that are well worth considering.
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Zupapa Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Bestway Hydro-Force Aqua Journey Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
SereneLife Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Goosehill Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Soopotay Inflatable SUP Board
Nixy Huntington Paddle Board 9’6″
Aqua Marina Vibrant Stand Up Paddle Board
Paddle – unless your child is a similar height to you (unlikely) then they should have a suitable length paddle. A paddle that is a few inches taller than your child will be suitable. If you have an adjustable paddle then this will likely suit but you should otherwise consider investing in a smaller paddle. This will help them develop a proper technique as well as being a more efficient way to paddle.
Kneel First – starting out in a kneeling position towards the centre of the board before standing is always the best way to start off. Help your child onto the board if necessary and ensure that they are comfortable on the water before they set off. Once they have a feel for the board, the water conditions and paddling in general, then encourage them to stand up.
Supervision – somewhat similar to wearing a PDF and being able to swim, ensuring that your child is always supervised by an adult that can also swim is a must. Make sure that they are always within reach i.e. don’t venture too far away from the shore. Kids are unpredictable particularly if they are out boarding with other kids so keeping an eye on them at all times should also be a priority.
Paddle Boarding Basics – make sure that your children have a feel for the basic paddling techniques and safety precautions. Remain patient and get them to practice how to paddle, turn, fall off and get back onto the board. Do this initially in shallower waters where you can stand beside them to steady the board.
Above all else (safety aside) its supposed to be fun so make sure your kids are out there and enjoying themselves. It doesn’t need to be competitive so play around, take a few pics and enjoy some quality time with your children.
As always we would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.
Until then stay safe and get wet.