How to take your child paddle boarding

Preparation is the key with young children and these are the steps that worked for us.

Child smiling after a paddle board adventure

Paddle board selection

Inflatable paddle boards are best for children because they are soft all over so children are less likely to bump their head on anything hard. They normally have a material carry handle and cargo straps which give them something else to hold onto.

Hard shell carbon or fibreglass paddle boards will be fine too, you just need to be more careful with children and we recommend you avoid the waves so you have more control over the board.

Board preparation

Preparation is the key with young children and these are the steps that worked for us.

  1. Get the board ready while the children (or child) is busy elsewhere, this includes attaching leashes, checking the paddle and fixing the board to the roof of the car or placing out on the waterfront.

  2. Pump up inflatable paddle boards before heading to the water if you can and transport it on the roof racks.

    Pumping up an inflatable paddle board can take 10-15 minutes, so you want to avoid children waiting, getting bored, running into the water without you, getting tired and sunburnt before you are ready.

Inflating paddle board at home


Other things to get ready

  1. Sunscreen, swimmers and hat. Make sure you apply sunscreen to the children before you head to the water.

  2. Snacks! Fill up their lunch box with fruit, crackers and water.

  3. Floaties and a back bubble or life vest. Make sure the arm bands are pumped up before you head to the water to reduce set up time. Even if your child can swim, we recommend a floatation device be fitted so you have extra safety if something should happen while on the water. Boat passengers need life jackets so you should follow the same safety standards as boating if you are venturing into the deep.

  4. Towels and spare clothes.

  5. Key lock for your car. If you are travelling to the water by car, it's best to have a place to store your car keys while you are on the water. We suggest a combo surf lock, as it will enable you to lock your keys to the outside of your car and saves you from carrying them in your pocket or leaving on the beach.

Getting ready for a paddle board with a young child


Going onto the water

If it is your child's first time, just ease into it and let them make all the decisions.

This point is critical, because if you push them into something they don't want to do, it can upset them and give them bad memory that they attach to paddle boarding or water sports, potentially effecting all their future decisions.

Child and paddle board going onto the water

So take your child and the paddle board to the water and just see what your child wants to do. Let them swim, splash, jump on the board, jump off it. Just chill and play in the shallows.

Then when they are ready to go for a paddle, help them climb on and explain where you'd like them to sit or stand.

Once you're paddling, let your child decide where to go so they feel in control. And if they want to go back to shore, do what they say so they regain comfort and you can go out again when they are ready.

Child climbing on an inflatable paddle board


Why do all this?

It sounds like a bit of work, but that's life with kids and once you've done it a few times it'll become easy.

Your child will benefit immensely from the experience of paddle boarding; 

  • tasting the fresh air
  • learning new balancing skills
  • learning board and water skills
  • seeing fish
  • exploring this beautiful world
  • quality time with their Mum or Dad.

Paddling with child on board

As they grow older they'll become more familiar with paddle boarding and be able to paddle themselves. It's a great pathway into surfing and other water sports.


Thanks for reading, hopefully we've helped you and your children. If you have any comments or advice, please comment below.

For more information about the inflatable paddle board we used, click into the inflatable paddle boards section.