Top Tips For Canoeing With Kids | Don’t Canoe With Kids If You Can’T Follow This!!!

top tips for canoeing with kids

Last updated on September 2, 2022

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Canoeing is fun for adults. However, it’s even more enjoyable for kids. Kids find a lot of thrill when driving their watercraft. They get to realize their fantasies of conquering the waters and discovering unchartered territories. If you’re going to reward them for an achievement, try canoeing. Undoubtedly, kids won’t say no to your offer.

Canoeing is fun, but you should know that accidents may make the most memorable moments miserable. Follow the basic best practices, and you’ll be confident that kids will enjoy canoeing. I’ll talk about these practices today. Here are the top tips for canoeing with kids that you should follow.

Wear PFD First, Ride Canoe Later

Personal flotation devices (PFD for short) are handy, simple thingies that are handy when unforeseen circumstances happen while you’re on the water. Others also call these life jackets. No matter what the correct term is, you should know that wearing PFDs or life jackets should come first before riding a canoe.

PFD’s come in different types. These are the 5 types of PFD that the government allows the market to sell:

  • Off-Shore Life Jacket (Class 1)
  • Near Shore Life Jacket (Class 2)
  • Flotation Aid (Class 3)
  • Floating Device (Class 4)
  • Special Use Floating Device (Class 5)

So which of these PFDs should kids wear for canoeing? The most suitable are Class 1 or Class 2. Class 1 and Class 2 PFD’s are ideal because they help kids stay afloat even when the water is highly turbulent. Furthermore, they turn unconscious wearers to a face-up position so they won’t drown.

Children should wear PFDs with 11 pounds buoyancy. On the other hand, infants should wear PFDs with 7 pounds buoyancy.

Don’t Give Kids Adult Kayak Paddles.

Expect the rental shop to give kids adult paddles. Adult paddles are long and heavy. Thus, they might make it hard for the children to paddle. Even worse, it may even hurt their arms, hands, or shoulders. As a result, they can’t enjoy canoeing because navigating will be hard for them.

You should at least have a kiddie paddle even if you don’t have your canoe. Kiddie paddles are a lot lighter than adult paddles. Thus, children will find it easier to do strokes. Kiddie paddles start at 210 cm length. Here are the specific details that will help you choose the best paddle for kids:

  • kids ages 2-4 should have paddles that have a length of 152.182 cm
  • kids ages 4-10 should have paddles that have a length of 182-190 cm
  • kids ages 8-13 should have paddles that have a length of 190 cm

Helmet!!! One of the Top Tips For Canoeing With Kids

Kids should also wear helmets when canoeing. This is very important if you and the children are going to canoe on rivers. Helmets will protect the kids from bumping their heads on rocks just in case the canoe capsizes. Aside from this, helmets also keep the kids’ heads away from the sun. Helmets might make their head and face feel hot, but it protects them from head injuries and facial sunburn.

What’s the best type of helmet for kids? The best type is a half-cut canoeing helmet. Half-cut canoeing helmet isn’t too heavy on the head. Furthermore, it doesn’t make the head feel hot because its design allows air to seep through. Also, Half-cut helmet dries quickly and is easy to clean.

By the way, I don’t recommend you to use kiddie bike helmets because they rust easily. Aside from this, they quickly wear due to wetting.

Watch Out For Low Head Dams!

WATCH OUT FOR LOW HEAD DAMS. I’m sorry for the caps, but this is important. Low head dams are hazardous. The survival rate, when caught in a low head dam, is meager. This is true even for adults who know how to swim. This is why you should check for low head dams when canoeing with kids.

Before heading out, check the map for legends that indicate low head dams. Also, you can opt to check the vicinity of the canoeing location the day before you head out with the kids. However, some locations don’t indicate if low head dams are nearby. These signs of an upcoming low head dam will help you if this is the case:

  • a faint rushing sound of water that get’s louder as you move forward
  • as you look up ahead, the river’s surface becomes smooth and wide
  • as you look up ahead, the upcoming river’s section is lower than the one that you and the kids are in

Also, you should do these things when approaching a low head dam

  • alert the kids that a low head dam is nearby
  • paddle with them towards the bank
  • (optional) tell the kids to abandon their kayak and swim for the bank

Give The Kids A Whistle

Never allow the kids to ride a separate kayak without a whistle. A kayak whistle is handy because kids can use it to call for help quickly. For example, it will alert you when one of the kids is dismounted from the kayak, has trouble navigating the kayak, or wants your help with something. That said, a whistle is an excellent way for you to look after the kids all at once while canoeing.

Bring A Home Made Energy Drink

An energy drink is great for keeping the kids hydrated. Also, it ensures that their stamina will last throughout the day. However, you should not give them energy drinks sold in the market because these are formulated for adults. Commercial energy drinks have formulas that might harm the kids’ health. It may give them severe allergic reactions or harm their kidneys.

You should bring homemade energy drinks instead of commercial energy drinks. Homemade energy drinks can come in the form of slushies, smoothies, or juices. Ideal ingredients for homemade energy drinks are bananas, avocados, goji berries, apples, strawberries, citruses, and dark berries.

Here’s a simple recipe for a homemade energy drink for kids.

Let The Kids Wear Gloves

Paddles might give blisters to kids’ hands. This usually happens if the kids are paddling hard. Also, the kids may find it hard to drive the canoe because their paddles are slippery. Letting the kids wear gloves is an excellent way to prevent slips and blisters. Gloves make paddling easy for kids and protect their hands.

Paddling gloves come in the form of neoprene gloves, fingerless gloves, thin neoprene gloves, and neoprene mitts. Between these, fingerless gloves are ideal for kids. Fingerless gloves allow kids to grasp the paddle well. Fingerless gloves also protect their palms, which are very prone to blisters.

Protect The Kids Against The Sun

Aside from sunburn, sunlight might cause more severe health problems such as rashes and cancer. This is why you should opt to bring sun protection when canoeing with kids. Don’t forget to bring sunblock cream, anti-UV or UVB rays t-shirt, and sunglasses. Your kids will surely need these as they canoe on a hot day.

You need to protect your kids from the sun while canoeing. Too much sunlight may cause fainting, heatstroke, and dehydration.

Head Out As Soon as Heavy Rain Starts Falling

You should tell the kids to stop canoeing as soon as heavy rains start falling. The kids might not like the idea of stopping because of rain. However, doing so is for their safety. As rain falls, the water levels on canoeing locations might suddenly elevate. As a result, kids might be surprised by the sudden increase in water levels, and they will find it hard to navigate.

Some accidents in canoeing locations happen during rainfall. For the kids’ safety, don’t test luck and tell them to get out of the water right away when heavy rain starts.

Plan Some Games

Games will make canoeing more enjoyable. There are lots of canoe based games that kids will love. A good game for beginners is to “follow the leader.” In this game, you act as the head of the group while the rest of the kids follow you. This is an excellent game for teaching them canoeing basics in a fun and engaging manner. For experienced kids, canoe racing will do.

Just to be more specific, here are the top 10 kayaks/canoe games that you need to try:

  • Race to a Dozen
  • Sticky Situation
  • Animals Galore
  • Kayak/Canoe Frisbee/Football
  • Scenery Sums
  • Gunwale Bobbing (these might destroy the canoe/kayak)
  • Tea Party
  • Kayak Basketball
  • Relay Race
  • Swap It   


The tips that I mentioned here will help you keep the kids safe while canoeing. However, you don’t have to follow all of them. Still, the most important tip that I discussed which you have to follow is to watch out for low head dams.

You should try the games that I presented because they will make canoeing more exciting than it already is.

By the way, share this guide with your friends if you found it helpful. Remember, if you’re looking for the best content about kayaking or canoeing, this website might be your best choice. So come back again and let’s talk!

Kayaks Report is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.

Copyright 2024 Kayaks Report -All Rights Reserved.