Would you consider taking your baby on a boat? What about your lively three year old? It might sound insane, but we’ve got the low down on taking your child on a sailing holiday.
0 – 1 year
Babies love boats – there’s something about the water that soothes them. It might be the rocking movement that reminds them of the womb or it might just be that their parents relax and so they do too. Little babies are often very sleepy when a boat is sailing, so it’s good to have worked out a system where they can drowse alongside you, under a thin cotton awning if it’s sunny, in a baby seat or secure cot. Remember that sun is a real issue when on the water, and ensure that you’re using high quality, high SPF sun protection at all times – a clever tip from one of our experienced nannies is to put your tube of sun cream in a bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes before applying. That means it’s at room temperature, which causes much less squealing and wriggling.
1 – 3 years
Probably the trickiest age to have children on board – they’ve found their feet and want to use them! A toddler bath set up on board can keep them happy for hours, but ensure they have:
- waterproof sun protection
- a hat that covers the back of the neck
- a long sleeved lightweight t-shirt
- lots of water-play toys as you may lose a couple overboard!
Remember that if you’re yachting, you may be using drinking water to amuse your child, so be careful not to empty the tanks! Reins are your best friend with this age of traveller, and a water swimming shirt is vital too. While children this age require a lot of supervision, they also benefit amazingly from the confidence they build around being on the water. A key tip from one of our experienced maternity nurses – have a water bottle labelled for each of you, and fill them every morning. This way you can keep track of your little one’s hydration easily.
4 – 10 years
Even a four year old can have a job on board, whether it’s looking out for landmarks, helping to steer, drawing the wildlife they see and tracking the journey on a map. This keeps them interested in the journey and gives them skills. One nanny, who’d taken her Duke of Edinburgh awards, got the whole family tying knots during a yachting holiday, it got so competitive that they bought a book when they got home to learn more! Older children can learn to use a compass and radio and help plan the next day’s journey.
10 and up
Privacy is key to helping older children happy. Make sure they have headphones and an iPad so they can ‘zone out’, but also have some screen free hours (perhaps 10.00 until 14.00) for all of you, parents included. This gives your children a double benefit: they learn to live without digital support for a few hours and they value their screen time even more when they get it back! Older children will often be able to use a sailing trip to learn new things – sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling or, if you’re on a canal trip, locks and navigation.
Motorboats are much easier than yachts with children as they allow you to make landfall easily if there’s a problem. Canal cruises are perhaps the easiest of all, because you can simply tie up anywhere if your children get bored, ill or otherwise unhappy. But with our guidance you’ll find that being on the water can be plain sailing, however you choose travel!