We started sailing with both of our girls at eighteen months.
At eighteen months theres not a lot they can do. Put a small pdf on them and they sit on your lap for hours on end.
As they get a little older the fun begins. At two - three years old they don't want to sit still for more than five minutes unless they are sleeping. It than becomes a real challenge to keep them entertained and busy. Little tiny fingers are into everything, including winch drums and travelers. You have to be on your toes or they can and will get hurt, there are many new things to discover on a sail boat and they will find them.
At five or so, they start to entertain themselves. I had girls, so of course we had plenty of dolls, books, and etc on board. (If I remember there were these toys called tiny pockets that kept them entertained for hours)
A little later, I started giving them chores to do on board. They were very comfortable at an early age. My older daughter at the age of five would start by helping with the mainsail cover as soon as we stepped abord.
Later, I would call her over and simply hand her the tiller. She very rarley complained. She had watched me do it so she knew (Sort of) what to do.
As they grew, I lost my hair. Sailing along, heeled over, taking waves.....Samantha was famous for going forward and sitting on the rail. What is wrong with a nice comffy cockpit, I would ask her.
It became second nature to them. They still sail with us (now 15 & 18). Samantha enjoys it more than Missy.
Give them stuff to do, at an early age its usually their toys etc.
When they are old enough, give them stuff to do as it pertains to running the boat. They have to be busy, or they will drive you nuts.
Courtney is My Hero
If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most - E.B. White
Last edited by sailortjk1; 12-13-2007 at 10:26 AM.