Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Baby Aboard

Our biggest question about having a baby has been how to keep her safe in the marine environment. We have bought all six books that I could find on Amazon about cruising with children. Clearly tons of cruising families have lived with children from newborns to teenagers on sailboats. And it just so happens that everyone that writes a book about it says it is a great experience. If anyone knows of a book about how unhappy a family was cruising with children, let us know.

Most of the suggestions I have read have been the same. To sum them up:
  • Put the kid in a life jacket when underway.
  • Devise some kind of toddler harness and tether system when ever kid is above deck.
  • Teach them to swim.
  • Teach older children to row the dingy. Started by having them practice row with the painter still tied to the boat. As they get better give them more line.
  • Put netting up around the life lines.
  • Lash a car seat above or below deck.
  • Have some kind of playpen area, either a commercial "pack and play," or create one in a bunk with netting or lee cloths.
  • Bring things to entertain them like toys and books.
  • Let them participate in sailing, steering, etc. But don't push it because it is really not that fun for kids for very long periods of time.
  • Find other kids and cruising families. Meet up with them again if possible.
  • Hide fun treats and toys to take out for long passages and bad weather.
In addition I have found some unique ideas online. One family created a flotation system for the car seat, and tested it in the pool. Not sure if we will do this, but it does seem like there is an untapped market for various baby flotation devices. I really enjoyed one families description of buying an immersion alarm for their three year old. I won't ruin the funny part, so you can read it yourself. On one online forum I found some interesting posts including one that has some pictures of hanging the infant seat in the companion way. I'm not sure that the carseat companies have safety tested all the ways that parents are using the seats on boats, but it does make me think.

Carseat flotation

Immersion Alarm (LOL)

The V-Crib

Comments by Gaff Cutter family and Hanging Carseat


Bursledon Blogger said...

Nice post and very timely, we're just working through how to look after our new baby aboard.

good luch

Thomas Armstrong said...

Ari, you guys are to be commended for sailing w/baby in an engineless boat. Hats off to you, it undoubtedly takes cojones and not a little preparation, and lots of work. Jay must be pleased.