Water and toddlers are a tricky combination! Being a first time mom, the idea of taking Stella to the lake for a family vacation haunted me from the minute we started planning. I read EVERY post I could find on water safety and tips, and I was still a nervous wreck! I can now say that we survived our lake trip without incident, and so I'm sharing my toddler boat safety tips for all of the other mamas out there thinking of heading to the lake this summer!!
1. Life Jacket vs. Puddle Jumper
- I decided to take both, and I used both, but in different situations! On the first couple of days we ventured out to the sand beach at our lake for a late afternoon swim. For this location I chose the puddle jumper! Because there was a shallow wade in area (like a normal beach) I knew that we could choose whether we were in shallow or deep water. The puddle jumper was great for this location! She was able to move around and play in the water safely (with me constantly with her) without any complaints on her end!
- For the boat, a life jacket was a must! I bought her a new one this year as I didn't want the infant model which had the back head rest! This life jacket was for 30lbs +! It still had the between-the-legs strap, which is a must for making a life jacket tolerable!! She did complain quite a bit about having it on when were weren't in the water, but in the water she was great! I'm not going to lie, being in the middle of the lake with a toddler is A LOT of work!! I had to wear a life jacket, and had a noodle between my legs, and she had on a life jacket and even yet it was challenging! Just prepare for the experience to be tough and exhausting and you'll do great!
2. Sun Protection
- I applied an SPF 70 on Stella about 30 minutes before we headed to the boat. Once we were on the boat, right before we got into the water I put another layer of SPF 50 on. We were on the lake for about 6 hours, and I didn't reapply. She was perfect! She didn't even get pink!
- I also recommend a hat! I took Stella's garden hat which kept her face shaded! She only wore it half of the time, but it was better than nothing!!
- Make sure you have a designated shade area! Our boat has a shade deck, so I knew that I had a sun safe area to keep her cool and protected while she ate and napped!
3. Snacks and Water
- Obviously you know to pack snacks, its a toddler, duh!! I recommend packing snacks that have added hydration benefits since you will be out in the heat all day!! I like to pack a lot of her favorite foods that are also hydrating! Fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, and apples are great sources of additional hydration! I also pack squeeze yogurt, applesauce, and cheese sticks for a little protein/ease!
- Water is obviously a must!! Stella isn't a juice fan, but on hot days on a boat I would recommend switching from juice to water for your toddler if you can! I would constantly ask Stella if she wanted water to make sure she was staying hydrated!!
4. Buddy System
- You think that there is safety in numbers, but that is often not the case! On the lake, even with 8 other adults around, it can be easy to lose track of a toddler! Develop some sort of system where the adult currently watching the toddler makes a direct face-to-face hand off when passing on responsibility to someone else!! You don't ever want to let your guard down when it comes to toddlers and water! The more alert and cautious you are the better!
5. Swim Diaper Caution
- This last one isn't as much about water safety as it is about boat safety!
- Swim Diapers and Wipes: pack at least 3 because water tends to get the bowels moving and while pee flows through a swim diaper, you definitely want to make sure you have plenty to change in case the other happens!
- You know that fluids flow THROUGH a swim diaper! For this reason, and because the seats get hot, I take an extra towel to sit under Stella while she naps or sits on the boat so that if she does pee, it doesn't get all over the boat!
Overall, we had a great experience! It was exhausting, and NOTHING like lake trips before kids, but it was exciting as a mom to see how much fun she was having in the water!! I hope these tips help you prepare for your first toddler lake trip!!