Join Date: Sep 2007
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Congrats to you! Sailing with an infant was easy for us. Many great suggestions already. Can't overemphasize nursing as it simplifies mealtimes which are not always predictable. I recall nursing below while throwing up in a ziploc bag during a rough passage!
We built a cradle which hung from the handrails in the cabin, it was always level and safe. This was in pre digital days so I don't have a picture, but it had peg board as a base, top rails made from hockey sticks (Canadian!), drilled holes in sticks to match holes in base, used line to lace top to bottom, fairly high sides prob 18", made mattress pad and bumper pad, rope sides allow the base to always be level. If you want to PM me I will try to scan an old picture for you. We actually had to add bungees fore and aft to limit some of the swing action. Baby slept and we could see her from the cockpit at all times. We rigged up a system to tie the car seat in the cockpit-there are lots of points to tie on both the infant and older child car seats. At anchor we attached a large golf umbrella to keep her in the shade. Hat, sunscreen, netting and lines to tie teddy to the seat are a must. Neither teddy nor baby ever ended up overboard and of course they always had their life jackets on...start on day 1 as soon as they exit the car. However watch infants as they can overheat with the lifejacket. We didn't put jacket on in the infant seat but immediately after unbuckling it was on. Once the child is able to sit up, you cannot use the cradle. I made a canvas barrier with a vinyl window which enclosed the v-berth (benefit of a 27ft boat at the time), it had fastners which attached it to the walls and came up about 3 ft. Babies could see you through the window and could stand holding the edge but high enough they couldn't flip or jump out. Put pillows along side walls. Basically it becomes a big playpen where they can play or sleep. I got this idea from a book called "Baby on Board". Don't have it anymore but maybe you can still find it somewhere. I used the dishpan for bathing as not alot of water is needed for an infant. Our second child was a winter baby so we skipped the cradle stage. Definitely put netting on your boat. In fact we didn't remove it till the youngest was 12 as it keeps everything on board-sails, cushions, towels etc. You have an advantage as you have teenagers to help amuse your new family addition! We loved sailing with our kids and they still love sailing with us at ages 16 & 18. Enjoy!