Baby sailor

Baby on Board: Can You Responsibly Sail the Seas With an Infant?

Some parents of newborns want to start taking their bundles of joy on adventures immediately. Whatever activities they enjoy, their infants come along for the ride. However, some experiences, like sailing, can be dangerous for a newborn. So can you responsibly sail with a baby?

Today, we’re examining whether you should sail with a “baby on board” sticker on your sailboat.

Let’s dive in and get started!

Should You Bring A Baby on a Boat?

As with many parenting choices, bringing a baby aboard a boat is highly debated. The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety recommends that babies not travel on a boat or any other watercraft until they can wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD). 

Babies typically don’t fit into these devices until they’re approximately 18 pounds, around seven months for boys and nine months for girls. However, everyone is unique, and babies grow at different speeds.

If you bring a baby onboard a boat, you should have a plan for sun protection, feeding, hydration, and comfort. You want to ensure everyone has an excellent time on the water, including your baby. Timing will be crucial, as they may not last the entire day on the water or out of their routine.

Whether you bring a baby on board, a boat is a personal choice. However, you must do your due diligence to keep yourself and your baby safe. Follow all the applicable rules and regulations at all times. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Traveling with little ones? Find out Should You Take a Newborn on a Plane?

Baby sailor

There Are Special Boating Safety Tips for Babies

Those who bring a baby onto a boat should do all they can to keep their baby safe. Waiting until a baby meets the weight requirement to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) is a good idea. However, if you insist on heading out on a boat, there are other special boating safety tips to follow.

You should hold your infant the entire time you’re out on the water while you wear a life jacket. Letting your baby rest in a car seat can be dangerous as the car seat may sink during an accident. Boat accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

Additionally, hypothermia is more of a concern for babies and young children. You must keep them warm while on the boat, as the wind off the water can be very chilly. Wrap them in a dry towel or blanket to keep their temperature in check.

Specific Rules Regarding Sailing With Babies

Depending on the boat, there are some specific rules that you should know and follow. Being ignorant of them doesn’t mean they don’t apply to you. So educate yourself and others about the practices for the boat you’ll sail with your baby.

Cruise Ships

Large cruise companies, like Royal Caribbean, take the safety of all their passengers very seriously. Regarding infants, the general policies require that all babies must be older than six months from the start of the cruise. 

Additionally, babies must be 12 months old at the start of the cruise for any cruise with more than three consecutive days at sea. Babies cannot go on transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, or certain South American cruises.

If you attempt to board a ship with an infant not meeting the age requirements, they will not let you board the boat. In addition, you’ll receive no refunds or compensation from the cruise company.

Boats and Yachts

There are strict rules regarding how and when babies and children must wear life jackets. Typically, these rules require anyone under 13 to wear a life jacket when the boat is in motion. The life jacket must be the appropriate size and in good condition.

Additionally, children under six must wear a life jacket at all times while on an open deck or cockpit of a boat. However, these rules can change if the child is in an enclosed cabin or you have docked or anchored the boat.

Rules and regulations vary considerably depending on the waters and who governs them. It’s up to you to know the policies specific to the area. When in doubt, wear a life jacket.

Little children sailing

Babies and Toddlers Require Special Life Jackets

If you’re a new parent, you may not know you can’t toss any old life jacket on a baby or toddler. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) recommends babies wear a Type II life jacket. However, we suggest taking it further and looking for life jackets with additional safety features.

Lifejackets with a grab handle, crotch strap, and neck collar are some of the safest on the market. However, even if a lifejacket checks all the boxes, you must ensure it fits appropriately. You want them to be snug and not rise above their chin or ears.

Regarding price, as long as they have USCG certification and fit properly, you don’t have to choose the most expensive model. Remember that babies and toddlers will grow quickly, and you may only get a few uses out of a life jacket. 

Get inspired to set sail by watching these 10 Up and Coming Sailing YouTubers.

Family sailing with child

Nomads Sailing the Seas with Babies

If you don’t think it’s possible to sail with babies safely, a few families will prove you wrong. These are some of the largest YouTube channels for nomads sailing with their babies. They may inspire you to take a step toward your next adventure!

Sailing Project Atticus

Jordan and Desiree sail around the world in a 1997 Pacific Seacraft 40 with their daughter, Isabella. The couple took some time to adjust as new parents before returning to sailing.

They’ve been sailing together for almost eight years and are adjusting to life with a baby on board. Head to their YouTube channel, where these tired parents share their adventures.

Sailing La Vagabonde

Riley and Elayna, Sailing La Vagabonde, is an Australian couple who have sailed more than 55,000 miles in their sailboat. They’ve been filming and sharing their adventures since 2014. They provide glimpses into their life on the boat as a family and how they raise their young boys, Lenny and Darwin. 

If you need inspiration, their documentary-style videos are an excellent way to motivate you to take a risk. Don’t miss their adventures and how they enjoy life on the water!

Sailing Soulianis

Kirk and Lauren of Sailing Soulianis have been sailing since 2017. However, the couple welcomed their daughter, Renata, onboard their ship in late 2020. Their content slightly shifted as they figured out how to continue their lifestyle while becoming parents and navigating the chaos of the early 2020s.

If you think parenting is challenging, try navigating that trifecta of challenges. Luckily, the couple documented the journey and shared it with their viewers. They show how living and sailing the open waters as a family is possible.

Sail Safely With Baby and the Whole Family

Sailing can be an incredible adventure for a family. However, you must take the proper precautions to ensure everyone stays safe. If not, you could be in a hazardous situation. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations where you live before hitting the open waters.

Would you travel by boat with a baby? 

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