Canoeing With A Toddler

-- Last Updated: Apr-03-06 7:37 PM EST --

Hey All -
My wife and I took my 20-month old daughter out for a paddle in our new canoe the other day. She absolutely loved it! It was her first time in a boat. We bought her a little wooden paddle (about 14 inches long) so she could play along. Toddler's don't sit still for very long and so she spent most of the time kneeling on the bottom of the canoe, looking over the side and hanging her little paddle in the water. The kneeling eventually hurt her to the point of bruising. We had a thick floatation cushion for her to sit on, but she wasn't too into it...

Any advice for our next outing to avoid the bruised knees? I thought about duct tape... kidding.

Toddlers look so cool in their little PFDs!

Sleeping pad
Closed cell foam. You can pick one up by Wenzel from Kmart or Walmart for about $7. Be sure to keep a spare set of clothes in a drybag, and maybe a wool blanket.


how good
of a swimmer is the 20 month old ?

My one and only contribution to canoeing

– Last Updated: Apr-03-06 5:37 PM EST –

(Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it anyway!)

Place an inflatable boat in the middle of the canoe and then blow it up filling the hull. It has an air cushioned bottom, prevents bruising, and keeps the child centered. Heck, you can even add a little water and have a floating kiddie pool.

Here's one on sale:
(You'll have to copy and paste the entire link into your browser),77135_Sevylor-Caravelle-Three-Person-Inflatable-Boat.html

Duffer Chair for kids

– Last Updated: Apr-04-06 11:36 AM EST –

I have a little one that we took canoeing at age 16 mths. At that age we sandwiched him between Mom's legs in the front of the boat to ensure he stayed in the boat.

At age 2.5 we took several canoe trips with him usually breaking them up into 45 minute legs as that was the limit of his "sit still" endurance. We used a duffer chair such as sold through this web site.

It gave him a place to sit, off the bottom of the boat, a little visibility and put him within easy reach of the stern paddler.

See it in action at:

Of course, kids PFDs are always recommended.

one of the best things I did starting out with my son was, I gave him a whiffle ball bat to use as a paddle. when he decided to stick it in the water at an inappropriate time it did not effect what we were doing. and we stayed dry. and he always felt he contributing!

Doesn’t everyone
Learn to swim by the time they are two years old. Seriously, my folks had home movies of use three boys swimming at that age. It drove the lifeguards nuts the first time my youngest brother followed me off the diving board while he was still crawling.

I wish my parents had taken me…
…canoeing when I was little, so it wouldn’t have been so long before I found out about it. Of course, it would have been a canvas/wood deal-no other options then.

Don’t do What I did!
Took my oldest out when she was 18 months. When the floor started moving under her feet she freaked and latched on to my calves, one arm around each. Every time I took a stroke my elbow came down on her head.

Poor kid, she’s 17 now and she still ain’t right! (paddles a kayak!)

Sleeping pad or little chair
My second boy went out with us at about that same age. I second the recommendation for the closed cell foam pad. Cut one in half and lay the pieces perpendicular to the keel line, giving a nice big spot to play.

As he gets bigger, look for a little beach chair, the ones with the short curved legs. They work great as a duffer seat. My daughter, admitably pretty small, used one in the front of my solo until she was about 8 (60 pounds or so if I can remember that far back!). She eventually graduated to the bow of a tandem and took her first BWCA trip at the same age. It helped to have lots of gear to trim the boat though and I still paddled the boat (a MR Explorer) “backwards”. The boys also moved to the bow by about 8.

In addition to the little paddle, tie on a whole menagerie of little plastic toys. Boats, duckies, etc, are great to drop over the side and haul back. Lots of breaks to look at shells and frogs. Get a dip net, a bug box (small plastic box with a magnifying top), and some guidebooks. Makes those sandbar breaks even more fun.


Mom of 4: 24, 20, 15, and 14

Great ideas
You’re obviously a do’er not just a read’er. They are lots of fun at that age too.

Cool site
I have my first coming in October. I can’t wait to take it canoeing!!! (I will wait until summer '07)

This is a great page about canoeing with kids:

I like it!
I like seeing young kids out in the water. So long as the proper safety items are address, such as a proper PFD. I took my 6 and 3 year olds out this past weekend. The nice thing is that it gives them the feeling of a canoe. At first they were hesitant of the tippy feeling. But after a while they were very comfortable in it. In fact my daughter likes rocking the boat lightly side to side, and they both like dragging their fingers in the water as we move along.

Both kids love swimming, so when the water warms up this summer, we will find a shallow area at the lake and practice what to do in case of a capsize.

Thanks so much to everyone for such great feedback and creative ideas. We’ll be sure to borrow some of them!

Here’s a pic of my daughter practicing her J-stroke.

Inflatable cushion
$3.99 from campmor. Thats what we use for our boys. Although it doesn’t have a seat back like that sweet looking wicker chair some one linked above.


open crate
When my daughter was 10 months old, I put her in my canoe for a short trip. I will note that she started walking at 8 1/2 months and was walkng and climbing steadily at 10 months.

I took a wooden pear crate (IE fruit crate) and paddled the edges with a couple of towells. Then attached the crate with bungies to the inside of the canoe. So the crate was stable and attached, but not the kid.

She had on polarfleece, and a PFD with the strap that goes through the kids legs, so it doesn’t come off.

The whole concept as great, except once the canoe was on the water she was scared and cried for the 45 minute trip.

At 7, she enjoys paddling canoes or kayaks, has been canoe camping, is learning to roll, and is just a blast to play with. I do have her wearing a wetsuit until the water is close to 80F, she’s still tiny but sturdy.


re: Open Crate
Sounds very creative and comfortable. My 19 month old made it about an hour before throwing her fit.

The fruit crate seems MUCH LESS dangerous than my in-laws bringing their newborn baby (now my wife) home from the hospital in a cardboard box, strapped in the backseat of their car.

For kids smaller than a toddler, rather
than a fruit crate, which isn’t always easy to come by, use a rectangular clothes basket. Will be trying my almost 3 year old grandson out in a conoe or my Loon 138 Easter. It’ll be interesting, especially as he has absolutely no fear of water.

Hi Val, would you please tell me
what kind of pfd you found to fit your 8.5 month old ??? Thanks.

Been taking my little guy 'out 'since 6 weeks.

Lots of happy chirping.

6 weeks old??
Wow, nothing like getting sea legs before you can even walk! My 20 month old LOVED it out on the water.