Should you bring infants on boats?

If you are reading this article, it’s likely because you or someone you love has an infant that you are considering taking boating. This article will help you discern when it is safe and when it is not to take infants on boats, as well as what safety precautions need to be enforced.

Should you Bring Infants on Boats?

It’s only natural that parents want to invite their new bundle of joy into their lives and introduce him or her to their favorite activities. For many people, a preferred way to spend a Saturday is cruising around on a boat. However, many parents wonder if it is safe to bring an infant on a boat.

Newborns Under Three Months Old

For a newborn, or a child under three months old, the answer to this question is a clear no. While there are no official rules for infants on boats, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety recommends that a baby should not travel on boats of any kind until he or she is able to fit in an appropriate personal flotation device.

Infants will not reach this weight until at least four months old, but in some babies, it’s even up to 11 months before they are the right size for the flotation device.

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Mom and infant standing by water

Infants Over Three Months Old May Be Able To Go On A Boat

Infants who can fit into a personal flotation device properly and who have proper control of their head may be able to ride on a boat. However, there are several crucial steps you must take to keep the infant safe while on open waters.


How to Make Sure a Baby is Safe on a Boat

If you decide to take an infant on a boat, you need to be vigilant about their safety. Here are some important items to consider. Make a plan with the entire family and make sure everyone commits to the safety of the child.

Buy an Appropriately Sized Personal Flotation Device

Babies need to wear lifejackets on boats at all times while the child is near or on the boat. This device should have padded head support that will keep the baby’s head out of the water, as well as handles to grab in the event the child falls in.

Additionally, there should be adjustable straps on the device for you to make sure it fits properly.

Man standing with baby in the water of a lake

Choose the Time of Your Boating Trip Carefully

Babies younger than six months cannot wear sunscreen due to the ultra-sensitive nature of their skin. This means their delicate skin is even more prone to burns and wind-chapped skin.

If you opt to take your baby out on a sunny day, make sure to protect him from sunburn by covering his skin completely with UV-clothing. Don’t forget the hat and the sunglasses, too. These steps will also help keep your baby cool while you’re out on the boat.


Older babies can wear sunscreen but still have extremely delicate skin. Keep your child covered – or better yet under an umbrella or some shade. Make sure to keep your trip short, as babies who are overheated can easily develop heat rash on their skin.

It is also important to remember that being exposed to too much heat can raise the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Avoid Alcohol and Make Sure Everyone is Properly Hydrated

Alcohol should always be avoided when on a boat, but particularly when you have a young child of any kind with you. This is especially true of infants who need constant attention and care.

Moms who are breastfeeding should take particular care to stay hydrated so they can feed their children.   Mom with baby in waters at Lake Hartwell

In summary, can you take an infant on a boat? Maybe.

Should you take an infant on a boat?

It’s probably not the best place for a young child to be, but if you take precautions to ensure the baby is comfortable and safe, a short boat ride might be enjoyable for all.

Infants on boats: how to keep your baby safe on the lake. text overlaying image of babies playing in water

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