Going from two adults to now two adults and a baby on board definitely takes some adjustments. We are lucky and have a cabin we’ve dedicated to the boat nursery, but when you’ve been spoiled and used it has additional clothing storage and a cozy nap/reading area it’s definitely a change. It’s early on and the learning will continue, but so far there’s some basic setup and gear that is working well for us. I’ve already started to make some tweaks, and I expect that to continue as his gear will change as we go!
I want to make going boating with a baby as “easy” as possible, lol. Whether it’s going down to the boat for the afternoon or going out on a trip, I want the v-berth to be setup as his boat nursery. Right now we’re doing Gulf Island sailing, so what I’ve done isn’t what I would necessarily do for any offshore or more intense sailing.
Sleeping & Nursing Area
Turning the v-berth into the boat nursery, a KidsCo tent works well for sleeping. I haven’t been able to do up the zipper yet without him freaking out, but in theory it will be good to keep mosquitoes away and keep him contained in the tent. The tent can quickly fold up into it’s bag, and it even has an elastic built in so you can fold it up and just put it aside for more play space in the v-berth.
For nursing I did try a nursing pillow on board, but I was missing my nursing chair from home. I found our cockpit/deck chairs perfect, nursing is way better when you’re comfortable. I like the chair for intense back support, but I have also ditched the chair in the locker from time to time and just do a pile of pillows.
White Noise Maker
I have a white noise maker at home, so having one on the boat helps keep the sounds consistent for sleeping, and it helps cut out all the fun noises when you’re at the dock and at anchor. We have it hooked up to a travel battery so when you’re at anchor without power you can easily run it without impacting your house batteries.
Love the baby monitor on the boat. It gives you the comfort that you’re keeping an eye on your little one, while trying to have some adult time. Whether your rafted with friends and on their boat, or at the dock, it gives some flexibility while still monitoring your little one. We’ve brought our one from home with a monitor for a visual, but we also picked up a cheap one from Ikea that has great range for just audio.
As much as it’s to hold your baby, a carrier to wear him is great. A carrier allows you to be mobile with your baby in a safe place, whether you’re at the helm or ashore doing a hike, a child carrier is a must. I’ve already started looking at the backpack versions such as the Poco for when he’s a bit older. The Poco will be for hiking ashore, and not for on the boat. I’ve started looking at harnesses for when he’s older, but I have a little more time to figure that one out.
It seems each to their own for child carriers, I’ve heard some people love the Tula carriers so it’s really personal preference.
I know boaters bring the full standing high chair on board and attach it to the boat, but with our floor space down below that’s not really an option. Having a perch high chair I think is a better option, you don’t always need to have it out, and it’s portable so you can take it ashore if you go to a restaurant or a friends boat. I bought a Guzzie & Guss one, but there’s a few brands out there.
As much fun it is to always carry your little one, it’s nice to be able to put them down. Floor space on a boat is obviously very limited, so on the boat we’ve found the bouncy chair to be priceless. You can put them down in the main cabin and have the ability to make something in the galley, or just let them have some fun without being on you. At this point he’s not mobile so it works, but we’ll definitely be looking at floor options once he’s a crawling and on the move.
The Bumbo is also a great option, it can go pretty much anywhere the bouncy chair can go, but it also fits in the cockpit! Throw the tray on it and we’re all set for snack time.
Space is a premium for sure on a boat, so as we all know organization is key! I had grand plans to sew cute fabric baskets, but when I saw the price for the IKEA fabric boxes it was a no brainer, significantly cheaper and no work! The rectangle and small square boxes fit great along the side of the v-berth, holding toys, diaper, clothes, burp cloths etc. I love these boxes, it’s a great way to have things handy but still contained.
The challenge with boats is not all of our adult clothes fit in the aft cabin. I’ve also moved to packing his clothes in themes in bag organizers, allowing me to not have to unpack his clothes, and stuff lots of clothes in a small area. I’m thinking I may move his toys to a bag and keep his clothes bags along the side instead so I can have the cupboard back for my clothes until I better organize the aft cabin.
Laundry & Diapers
I again like everything to be easy. I sewed a laundry bag for the boat nursery, and we’re using a 2 in 1 clutch and changing pad. It packs well for storage and again is portable. For diaper garbage, I’ve put a hanging bucket off the closet where I put the use diapers. For the stinkier diapers I put in a plastic first, but for others I just throw them in the bucket and then empty into a garbage bag in the cockpit lockers at the end of the day or so. Ikea is again great for kid stuff, I bought the hanging buckets they sell to accompany one of their change tables.
Boating with a baby is challenging for sure, so whatever you can do to make the experience easy just do it! Our little guy loves being out on the water, so really it’s about us finding ways to organize the boat so it’s as comfortable and easy as possible. I would love to hear your tips and tricks so please share!
Have fun boating with your baby!