How young is too young? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.

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post #11 of 27 Old 04-18-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

Some greet stories and info.

My cut-over point to when the kids could come on multi-day/overnights came down to one word. Diapers.

Out of diapers means a basic level of communication, and the ability to walk. Oh yes, and no poopy paints to deal with.

I admire anyone who made younger work.

Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse.
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post #12 of 27 Old 04-18-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

Lots of people sail with kids and do fine. You also have to think about the trade-offs of what the baby will miss out on. Chief among these things will be grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Sure, everybody can do periodic visits but it's not the same as having regular weekly visits with family. If you have parents who are the type who have been waiting for grandkids, they will be very disappointed if you take their grandbaby away. If you don't have any extended family, then it isn't as big a deal.

Babies and kids can thrive in many different environments and many have gone to sea. But I think of some of the things that kids can't do at sea. Babies and toddlers benefit from being exposed to a wide variety of stimuli and experiences. After a while on a boat, it's a lot of the same. Sailing provides a lot of varied stimulation for adults, changing sea and changing weather, different ports, and marinas and topography. But babies and toddlers tend to focus on whatever is within 20 feet around them. Life aboard a boat provides a limited world for 20 feet around.

Day sailing as a part of a varied lifestyle is great. On land, babies have the ability to have weekly play dates with friends and cousins, to go to the story hour at the library, to visit the petting zoo, get their faces painted at a crafts fair, go to baby yoga classes with mom, take infant swimming lessons at the YMCA, ride a pony, pick strawberries, hold a litter of kittens in their lap, go for a jog in a jogging stroller, and to crawl across the lawn in a world that seems to have no limits. If you have interested grandparents or aunts and uncles, weekly contact and the formation of those early childhood bonds with them are priceless.

When kids learn to walk, the stupid mall is one of the best places for kids. As much as I hate, hate, hate, malls, my kids loved being able to walk as far as they could, in a place that had smooth flat floors with no obstacles. The mall proved to be one of the best and most sensory stimulating places to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon with a 10 month old.

But kids will thrive in a variety of environments.
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Last edited by midwesterner; 04-19-2016 at 11:52 AM.
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post #13 of 27 Old 04-18-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

Cute story about a child growing up while cruising to New Zealand.. at the age where he/she 'learned' to walk at sea. Afterwards, the first place they landed the poor child was stumbling around like a drunk because they only had 'sea legs'.. and a stable base was something altogether new.

Agree with comments above that the amount of sailing & cruising experience is important. If the parents are trying to figure out how the boat works, how to navigate, how to deal with stronger breezes all the while also trying to work out how to put children into the equation I'm sure it's totally overwhelming. For beginners either one of those items can be daunting on their own.

Toddlers are probably more worrisome than newborns given their 'new mobility'. But I'd suggest that it's far easier having a 6-7 year old on the boat who grew up with it, rather than waiting til they're that age and introducing them to sailing then.
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".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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post #14 of 27 Old 04-18-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

A great blog along these lines is Windtraveler. The started with a single infant on board, that has changed when they had twins. So, the total is up to 3 now. Admittedly they aren't actively cruising now as they started a charter company, however pre-twins they were moving around quite a bit. There share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Regards,
Chris

The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate. – Bern Williams
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post #15 of 27 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

As a recent father with a two year old, I would like to offer my advice...while we have taken her out for day sails since she was 7 months old, and we have slept overnight with her in our slip...I would caution against taking a very young child on any type of extended cruise (not judging those that did...just my opinion). As a father, I would never want to be far away from good medical care. I would never consider jeopardizing the health of my child for any reason...and when they are very young, with very little immunity...things can go wrong.

My wife and I used to charter in the BVIs annually before she came along...when my wife was pregnant, we thought we would take her at one year old. At one year, it became two years...and two years became three...and now four years old. I second the thoughts above to wait until at least a few years old. Out of diapers is a plus, as is the ability to communicate, listen, and understand surroundings and what is going on...just my thoughts.
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post #16 of 27 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyeterrier View Post
And with a child, it's their parents making the decision for them to undergo such risks. As adults we take these risks for ourselves.

This doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong to do, there's some risk at any age for boating and cruising, or that there aren't benefits to both the child and parents for taking them on such a journey, but the potential for problems should be soberly considered in the decision making.
Yes, the decisions we make for ourselves are different from the decisions we make for our kids. My philosophy about the Adventure Experience-to-Risk-Ratio was to always consider carefully measured risks. I took my kids on some moderate adventures as toddlers.

We backpacked on Cumberland Island National Seashore with our son when he was one year old. It was more like walk-in camping than backpacking. We had one of the first cell phones, a bulky bag phone, and I made sure that we could get a signal from the mainland at St. Mary's Georgia and I located the nearest mainland hospital that had a med-evac unit. To get two bars of signal, I had to stand on the picnic table and hoist the external antenna into a tree with a short piece of line. This was more to comfort his first-timer mother than any fear that anything bad would happen (but, just in case).

He was still taking a bottle at night and raccoons stole his bottle. Mom was unable to nurse. We had a very rough night as I tried to fill his little belly with soft foods. I washed out a juice bottle and tied a piece of plastic over the top with a hole in it and tried to trickle formula in his mouth. I tried dipping my finger in thickened formula to let him suckle it from my finger. Nothing worked and and he continued to cry. I spent much of the night walking on the beach with him bouncing him and singing to him.

In the morning we walked to the ranger station and the ranger radioed to the mainland and asked them to send out a bottle. They sent one out on the 10:00 AM ferry. We all finally slept the rest of the morning. That afternoon I found the other bottle in the Saw Palmetto less than twenty feet from our tent. The raccoons had chewed the plastic liner and licked it clean. I washed it and we then had a spare.

It was a fun time, but my son, of course, has no memory of it. Whatever benefit he may have gained from the experience could have been achieved by camping in the back yard at home. The truth is that the trip to Cumberland Island was for me, not the baby. It was more about me trying to hang on to my single young man days by attempting to combine some adventure with being a dad.

When my daughter was about three, we took the kids on a float trip. I looked over at one point and saw my daughter walking around the ring of rocks surrounding the fire pit, in her bare feet, balancing like a gymnast on the balance beam. Just as I was rushing over to pull her off, she faltered and landed on her feet in the hot coals. She channeled her inner Zen Priest and jumped out.

We were a forty-five minute to one hour drive from the nearest burn unit but her burns were only first degree and a little bit of second degree burns. We held her and soaked her feet in cool water. We were able to bandage her feet and put on clean socks and convinced her to wear shoes the rest of the weekend. We got lucky. She does remember that trip.

I've been sharing my sailing fantasies with my kids, both now in their twenties. I put most of my adventures on hold during many years so that I was there to coach their soccer teams, be a Boy Scout dad, and drive them to sleep-overs and birthday parties. I'm ready to take my time back. They express worry, but I've told them that I would rather take a chance that I might die at sea, doing something I love, rather than dying of a heart attack on the couch, fat and lazy, while watching TV. But I will make that decision for myself, not for anybody else and never for children.
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post #17 of 27 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

I have two boys, 12 and 6. We mainly just day sail. We tried it with the six year old each summer and until he was 4 it was pretty painful. My wife could not help sail because she was trying to keep the youngest boy happy and safe.

Now we hit he boat almost every weekend, the six year old loves it and the 12 year old is obsessed (starting to help crew the boat, and go on races with me)

I think 5 is about the earliest I would attempt to do an extended cruise. Before that there are lots of down side, but not a lot of upside.

My 2 cents worth
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post #18 of 27 Old 04-20-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

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I have two boys, 12 and 6. We mainly just day sail. We tried it with the six year old each summer and until he was 4 it was pretty painful. My wife could not help sail because she was trying to keep the youngest boy happy and safe.
I can second this...when we take our two year old out, I am always single-handing because my wife is always watching her/keeping her safe. My wife jokes that she hasn't forgotten how to sail. I can't imagine spending an extended period of time on the boat with her...even tied to the dock, it is a constant battle to keep her from yanking on the electronics, flipping switches, etc. She needs constant supervision...it is still fun, and she loves it, but at two she is at the point where she never sits still.
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post #19 of 27 Old 04-20-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

For all the dads saying they singlehand while the wife manages the kid(s), why not try switching off sometimes? This seems to keep everyone happier on our boat.
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post #20 of 27 Old 04-20-2016
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Re: How young is too young?

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For all the dads saying they singlehand while the wife manages the kid(s), why not try switching off sometimes? This seems to keep everyone happier on our boat.
That is crazy talk.....




All kidding aside,

While my wife likes the boat, and eagerly helps me sail it. Single handing our boat would be a bit much for her at her current skill level.

When our guys were still little (2-4) I would get the boat set to where we would be on one point of sail for a while. Then i would wrangle the kids while she steered the boat.
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