How to Paddle Board with Your Kids

Benefits of paddle boarding with your kids

It’s about time to set aside your kid’s electronics and introduce them to the magnificent outdoors via a stand up paddle board. Paddle boarding is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids outside. In this day & age, taking your kids (or toddlers!) on outdoor adventures is so important for their health and will ultimately help them grow into fine human beings.

The benefits of paddle boarding with your kids are endless. It will improve their balance, strength, build confidence and will connect them with nature. So how do you get your kids interested in paddle boarding, and more importantly, on a paddle board with you?

Below we explain how to teach your kids how to paddle board, important safety tips and how to keep them entertained while paddling.

Paddle Boarding with Kids

Step-by-step guide to teaching your kids how to paddle board

1) Getting your kids comfortable with the water

The first step is to make sure your kids are comfortable in the water. This includes, but is not limited to, teaching them how to swim and teaching them safe practices in & around the water. For kids less than 5 years old, we recommend having your kids sit on your paddle board with you. For kids 5 years or older, your kids can learn how to paddle board solo, but just make sure the board is a good size for them.

Paddle boards that are a good size for kids:

Important swimming safety practices:

  • Make sure they’re never swimming alone (always have a guardian nearby)
  • They need to always be wearing a life jacket or floaties
  • Tell them to always let an adult know where they are going

Paddle boarding with kids

2) Have your kids stand on your paddle board on land

Having your kids feel comfortable on a paddle board is crucial. Before they set off on your paddle board (or theirs), it’s important to lay a board on a soft patch a grass and have them stand on the board. Remember, this is a completely new feeling for them so it will take some practice to make them feel comfortable.

If your kids are old enough to go on a paddle board solo, teach them how to properly hold a paddle and the correct motions to steer their board in all directions.

3)  Take your kids out in calm waters

Select a calm body of water and definitely avoid rivers and surf breaks for starters.  Calm water makes it easier for little ones to balance on their butts between your legs or while standing. Expect that your kid might want to move around so plan accordingly.

Paddle Boarding with Kids

4)  Teach your kids safe ways to fall and how to get back up on their paddle board

This step is mainly for kids who are 5 years or older. Once your kids are comfortable with all the steps above, it’s time to teach them safe ways to fall on a paddle board and how to get back on their board if they were to fall in.

Usually, we don’t have much choice of how we fall.  But, teaching your kids to fall to the side of their board will protect them from injury. You want them to avoid bracing their fall on their hands because they could sprain their wrist if it catches on a rail. Teaching them to get back up on their board is straightforward, but will take practice.

Important safety tips when paddle boarding with kids

Important safety tips:

  • Put a life jacket on your child. You should also wear one to set a good example.
  • Check the forecast first. Don’t paddle in offshore winds. Be aware that storms and wind can pick up with little warning.
  • There is only enough room on your board for one beginner – your child.
  • What weight is your SUP rated for? Make sure it can handle you and your child. If your child is paddling by themselves, make sure the board isn’t too big for them to paddle.
  • Should your child wear a leash? This is up to you to decide. We worry a young child could get tangled in it and wouldn’t know how to pull the quick release but it depends on the child’s age.  In other situations, if the child knew how to use it, it is very safe & helpful.
  • Paddle with someone else or a group – they could help in an emergency.
  • Dress child for water temps/weather conditions.

In addition to these safety tips, it’s important for you to run through a variety of scenarios to determine what you are comfortable doing with your child in a variety of paddle conditions.

Questions to ask:

  • If your child falls off and starts drifting away in a life jacket, can you paddle to your child or is it too windy?
  • Can you physically put your child back on the board while not falling in yourself?
  • Can you rescue your child if you aren’t wearing a life preserver yourself and need to get in the water?
  • Is there a surf break, rough water, or rip current nearby that you or your child might enter?
  • Are you healthy – meaning you won’t become exhausted or unable to assist your child in an emergency?

Paddle Boarding with Kids

How to entertain your kids while paddling

The novelty of SUPing with mom or dad will wear off quick for most little ones! Here are some tips to keep your kiddos entertained during your paddle adventures:

  • Let your kids pick out a cool landmark that they see in the distance so you can paddle and see it up close. You then can proceed to have them pick a new landmark to adventure to.
  • Bring a small toy for them to play with.
  • Continuously teach your kids new facts about the body of water you’re paddling (wildlife, geography, etc.).

Paddle boarding with kids infographic

Kid friendly paddle boards

Posted in Paddle Board Gear, Paddle Board Lifestyle
Doug Robichaud - Marketing Coordinator at ISLE Surf and SUP. I recently moved from New Hampshire to Enicnitas, CA to sink my teeth into SoCal's surfing and arts culture. Born and bred surfing New England's freezing waters, I am stoked to surf more consistent waves in warmer water.

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