Top tips for paddling with kids

Paddling with kids can be tricky if you’re not prepared.

But don’t fret! We’ve put together a series of tips to help save the day! Here are our top 11 things to think about when paddling with kids.

  1. Take some snacks and maybe a picnic (it acts as a carrot as much as anything else!). You don’t need to think big, just a bit of chopped fruit, carrot and cucumber sticks, chocolate or crisps will do the trick. It’s amazing how quickly you can divert a tantrum with the shake of a snack packet.
  2. Make sure they’re wearing old, comfortable clothes. If kids go paddling in their ‘save for best’ clothes, they will just whine, and with a 5km paddle ahead of you, the last thing you need on the first portage is a whiny toddler.
  3. Prepare for them to fidget. All kids fidget, so think carefully about the craft you select. They will inevitably want to move about or swap places when they get on board, so make sure you bare this in mind if you are paddling a distance.
  4. Use your imagination! Make your paddle an adventure; explain the journey before you go, tell them what you will see and maybe even make up a story together.
  5. Connect with nature! Sadly, you’ll likely see plenty of litter along the paddle, so little things like explaining the effect litter has on the animals and plants on your journey, helps connects the dots.
  6. Create a list of things for them to spot or collect along the route. First one to complete it wins a prize. With plenty of wildlife along route, you’ll be spoilt for things to list.
  7. Plan your route. Think about portage points and ease of access, especially with young kids on board. The canoe trails section has over 150 trails across the country where important information like toilets, ‘get in’s’ and cafes are listed.
  8. Be prepared. Pack a dry bag with spare clothes, a warm jacket, suncream, sun hat, gloves, and towel… anything you think you might need for the weather conditions you will face.
  9. The correct buoyancy aid is essential. Peak UK produce an excellent range for little nippers, including a super cute buoyancy aid, with Palm Equipment also producing a neat range for older kids and teenagers too.
  10. Kids love to copy. Take this opportunity to show them how you would paddle and adapt your style so they can join in… even if it’s just for a short period before they get tired.
  11. Take a water pistol if all else fails. Every kid loves a water pistol. Fact.

One last thing…

Paddling with kids should be fun! Enjoy your time out on the water as a family and remember to take plenty of pictures along the way. The pictures and memories will last a lifetime. If you’re new to paddling, we’d recommend learning the basic skills through Paddle Awards so that you feel confident taking your kids on the water.