44 answers

Safe to Take a 4Month Old Out on a Lake, in a Boat????

I say no, my husband says yes. The pediatrician said no because the baby is too young for sunscreen, and because the jerking/bobbing motion isnt good for a baby without firm neck control. Unfortunately, the issue is still not settled in our house.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well the first two days I stood strong and veto'd the idea. On day 3, a cloudy cool afternoon, I finally gave in to the pressure of 5 people telling me that it was not a big deal. The in-laws had purchased an infant life vest which was for 10-24 pounds, and had a special extra piece to keep him floating horizontally as opposed to vertically in case we should end up in the water. The boat also turned out to be a 34' boat, with a bathroom and canopy over the rear-seating area. The driver also kept it at a very mild speed. Since it was cool he was dressed head to toe in light cotton with a fishing hat. Having it over with, there were no problems, however I was nervous the whole time. My son wouldnt have noticed either way, so I think it was just to make the grown-ups happy.

Featured Answers

I was able to convince my husband that my daughter needed a life jacket and because we could not find one smaller than 20lbs, he had to wait until she was 20lbs (which for her was 17 months old). Now she enjoys lots of boat rides....

Personally I would follow the pediatrician's advice (although I used sunscreen with the okay of my ped long before that age on my third son.) If you are worried about bopping then leave the baby in the car seat while on board, that will protect the baby. The biggest problem that I could see is the fact that the baby is too little for a life jacket...and all kids regardless of age should wear one while on a boat.

Good luck!!

H. Z. (SAHM 4 3/4, 3 1/2 and 13 month old boys)

If the boat is going slow, yes. If they are going for a joy ride, no. All the babies in my family have gone out in my dad's boat. They have all been fine...youngest was a few weeks old. However he goes slowly. They wear big hats to cover their heads and long sleeves.

More Answers

If the doctor said no, I would say absolutely not. There are also not very good life vests for babies that young that I would trust. We just took our daughter out for the first time (18 months) and it was hard finding a correct life vest that would slip over her head when floating. I believe sunscreen is needed, however, a life vest is non-negotiable. But overall, if you do not feel comfortable with taking her in a boat, put your foot down and protect your baby. Allow your husband to ride and you stay home with the baby.

I wouldn't do it, why take the risk? Ask Grammy to watch the baby and go enjoy a day on the lake with your husband. Tell your husband that as soon as the doctor OK's it, THEN you can include the baby. Good luck!

I think you should follow your instincts and your MD's advice - particularly with respect to the sunscreen issue. There is time aplenty to teach your 4 month old to enjoy boating and outdoor activities. You won't be at ease or enjoy the outing at all.

Go with pediatricians advice. Why would you risk the health and welfare of your child?


I took mine out in a kayak but I wouldn;t do a speed boat with lots of jerking.

Hello? No way .. Listen to the Dr. since he is the expert. Let your husband go alone and you have a nice quiet day with your baby!!

do they even make life vests that small?? I'd say no..

I am with you. I would not do it. Another thought is what type of boat? How fast will you be going? The wind often takes an infants breath away. This is a reflex they can't control. When you blow in to there face it causes them to hold their breath. It may be too much. Good luck!

Moms always say no (instincts) and dads always say yes, and say that we're overreacting. Personally, there is no way I would take my 4 mos old out on a boat for a number of reasons. My sister-n-law and brother made that mistake and because my sister was holding the baby the whole time they thought it would be "safe". Turns out, they hit something that caused the boat to jerk and the baby (I think then toddler actually) fell out of my sister-n-laws hands and cracked her head on the boat. Yes, stitches...and a very hard earned lesson.

Hi M.,

I agree with your ped. Amie may have been lucky that her boat didn't jerk causing her to drop the baby, or that the baby didn't endure some sort of reaction to the sun screen, or any injury to the head or neck due to the bobbing, but it was just luck. Might as well shake the baby! I think it's rather selfish, and irresponsible to do what you want to do, regardless of your child's safety. A parent's baby should be considered first when making decisions like this. There is a huge age difference between a 10 yr old and a 4 mo old, and your husband may not remember anymore how easily a baby can be hurt. The doc isn't saying to not take the baby outside, just to not purposely expose the baby to the bobbing, and prolonged time in the sun without protection. Even in shade, the little one can't manage prolonged heat as easily as we can. The baby will get older and the boat ride could happen then.

Maybe do some research to see if there have been too many problems with babies and boats? Maybe get a second opinion from a different doctor, because sometimes even docs have their opinions, rather than medical truths. There are medical websites where you can post your questions, and there is also the nurse practitioner hotline that you could call to ask a nurse directly (yellow pages). Maybe it would be best to convince yourself and your husband, if the feedback on what to do, came from more medical professionals.

Good luck!

OMG! You should definitely NOT do it. Listen to your "mother instincts" You wouldn't even be asking us if you thought it was a good idea. I have had very similar disputes with my boyfriend, so I know what your up against.

Look bottom line... If you don't do it there's nothing to regret, nothing to be sorry for, nothing to wish you hadn't done. Right? But if you go and god forbid something (anything) happened to your baby, you would never forgive yourself. Nobody ever expects accidents to happen.

Your husband is not a pediatrician.
If it was me I wouldn't even take a chance. This baby is so new to this world and that kind of over stimulation at such a young age is not good. Tell your husband to be patient you can go on the boat another time. Your baby can't even enjoy it yet cause he or she doesn't even know what a boat or a lake is.

It's kind of a selfish thing for him to want to do... considering you are not comfortable with the idea and the doc said NO. and I say no too (lol)
even though you don't know me.

How many more No's does he need to settle the argument?
I'm sure you'll get more than just mine from the other moms... Don't worry we've got your back!

I am 100% with you M., don't put a 4 month old on a boat! Too young, neck muscles still forming and it will probably not be a happy experience at this age. Stick to your guns Mom

Hey M.. What type of boat are you thinking of going on. I wouldn't take a baby on a little paddle or motor boat I would think a bigger boat would be fine you don't feel the rocking too much. Sunscreen is always better than a burnt red baby. We went to Florida last year when my son was 3 months old and he did fine with sunscreen they sell ones that have more natural products in it that shouldn't irritate skin. We also took him on the smaller size boat that went from the campground we stayed at to the Disney park and he enjoyed the rocking motion the boat wasn't jerking and bobbing. It was no worse than being in a car. The roads in massachusetts are much worse w/ all the bumps and huge pot holes. Relax a little.

Hi M.,

It depends on the boat and circumstances.Are you talking about fishing all day in an open boat or something else? Can you easily sit in the shade the whole time? We took both our daughters, when they were 3 months old, cruising for weeks at a time on our sailboat with no ill effects.I carted them around in a Baby Bjorn most of the time(that gets hot in summertime). That being said, we have a large enough cabin to make a sleeping area/get out of the sun and heat/have running water and a galley. If your husband is talking about going out on a motorboat, it is a much rougher ride than a sailboat and NOT good for little necks.If it is an open boat (no cabin),with no amenities, I say KEEP THE BABY AT HOME!!Not only will the baby be miserable, so will you. Don't risk sunburning your little one at any cost.

My baby may be different than yours- she's always been very strong and had great head control when we went out on the boat but she was just over 4 months when we took her. We had a life jacket for her that she didn't mind and it kept her VERY stable, especially her head. I have no idea why your ped is saying your baby is too young for sunscreen. I think that's crazy. I've been putting sunscreen on my baby since she was 2 1/2 months (the baby kind) and she's had no problems and no burns! What does the ped expect you to do? Never take the baby outside? Also, we did leave part of the boat cover on so that my baby could sit in the shade. I say go for it! Mine loved it and you'll have fun too!

I'm in the same boat (hee hee, no pun intended), and my son is 6 months old. His head control is great, he can wear sunscreen, but we've decided not to take him in any boats when we vacation next week. The deciding factor for us was that we couldn't find an approved life vest small enough. Perhaps you can "concede" on taking him in the boat, but only if the baby wears a coast guard approved vest...then woops, you can't find one! I'm not usually so sly, but sometimes you have to change the blame to an uncontrollable circumstance to avoid a big fight. Good luck!

If the pedi says no, then it's no. Besides, what is the point? Does anyone really think the 4 month old will enjoy this? Jerking around, bouncing off waves, with lots of noise from motors, wind in the face, etc.?? We had neighbors who went through the - the husband insisted that the 2 kids, then 1 and 4, go on the motorboat. They hated it! Nothing to do, any interest in "scenery" wore off in about 2 minutes, incredible noise from the engines, and the rest was "Sit down and don't move." The husband just yelled at the kids, and the wife had a terrible time. Even if you can find some sort of life jacket for a 4 month old, will you really feel safe? Either get a sitter for the baby and then take the 10 year old, or send Dad and the 10 year old (with a life jacket, no matter what) for a fun day of no-baby fun.

i took my 4mo. old camping and she loved it! you do have to make sure they are in the shade or covered at all times because of the sunscreen thing. you could set up some kind of tent/awning on the boat they even make uv protective plastic covers now. i would also hold the baby to keep their head from getting jerked around while the boat is moving. we have pictures of me and my sister running around in a baby walker on a boat and we both survived it. i say go for it, just be cautious when necessary.

I wouldn't do it. The baby is still so young. Also, if the dr. said no, and that is how you feel, I would go with your gut feelings.

Hi M. - I did. My son was born in March and we were on the lake in a nice fishing boat, slow, etc in July. He was fine. If you feel too nervous, don't do it b/c you won't have a good time, you'll be worrying about it. Do what you think is right.

I am wondering exactly WHY your husband is wanting the baby to go so much when you don't think it's a good idea and neither does your doctor? Is it because your other chils is 10 years old and he is resisting the limitations that babies sometimes bring after not having them for so long? Is it because you have said that if baby doesn't go you won't go?
I might present it to your husband that leaving the baby home for the trip would be a good thing in that your 10 year old would get some mommy/daddy one on one time. I imagine at 10 your oldest is very helpful but at 10 also fully understands that baby is making mommy and daddy exhausted and busy and fighting when cool things like fishing trips come up. I am sure there is a Grandma or an Aunt or a really good friend out there that is just DYING to get some one on one time with your little one. Also even if you are nursing, your could get a glass ot wine or a beer in with little guilt because it would be out of your system by the time you saw baby again. It's not like your 4 month old is going to remember going on the fishing trip or not going. GOOD LUCK!

What kind of boat? I would say yes....I don't see why not. But then again if your doc. says it's not a good idea then I would go with that. Do what YOU feel is right. If you don't think it's safe then don't do it.

Please follow your instinct that is backed by the DR's advice - perhaps you can ask the Dr to talk to your husband. Talking to the Coast Guard is good advice if you do take the baby out - is it safer for the baby to be strapped into a stroller that might sink, in a baby carrier you wear, or in a life jacket separate from others? find out what is the safest way to transport your child.

This is might be more than just the boating issue. Let this be a red flag to you - your husband isn't listening to sound medical advice nor (more importantly) his wife's wishes in regards to your child's safety. There shouldn't be an issue - but perhaps you will have many similar ones over time.

I read the other Moms and I agree that a baby lifejacket would be great, and if it's a canoe that's the boat, forget it! That's just too unsafe. But if it's a nice big boat, I don't see why not. Just don't hold the baby upright! Hold the baby in the crook of your arm. As far as the sun, bring an umbrella then! Tell your husband that he will have to hold the umbrella over you and the baby some of the time, you won't hold it yourself the whole time. Make him promise before you go! Good luck.

what if something happened out on the lake? Follow your own instinct, and the pediatrician's advice.

My son was born at the end of April and we took him on our boat in Aug. So he was 4 months and he was fine. We have an infant lifejake that helped support his head. I just held him in a cradle hold the whole time and he slept everytime we went on the boat. I also wrapped him in a blanket to keep the sun and the wind away and so he would stay warm and comforted. I personally don't see anything wrong with it. But it's your baby and your choice.

I would bring the husband to hear the pediatrician.

We have a pontoon boat and brought my son out on it... in his stroller! I fit perfect next to the driver seat the the bench seat next to it. I didn't use sunscreen, but kept him in the shade...hope this helps.

This is a no brainer, the Doc said no, you don't go! If your husband can't respect the opinion of a medical professional and put your child's health first, too bad. I wouldn't do it. I am a pediatric physical therapist and I wouldn't take my own child that young. The pediatrician is right, not enough head control and not being able to put on sunscreen is reason enough for baby to stay home for now! In another 3 or 4 months I think you'll be fine with the right kind of life jacket for your baby. Please don't ever take that baby on a boat without a life jacket!

I agree with all the other moms who say that you should go with your gut and your MD's advice. Yes, lots of other people have done it without any issues, but that doesn't mean that you should do it, if it feels wrong. As another mom pointed out, you'll be a nervous wreck the whole time. If anything happened, from sunburn to the unthinkable, you'd never forgive yourself for going against your instincts.

I took all three of my kids out on the boat from the time they were about 4 months old and they have been on ever since. I also trusted my husband's ability to control the boat on the lake completely. I think it's a personal choice. They make wonderful life vests for very small children that may ease your fears. I think it is a personal preference. It won't be a great experience it you are stressed the whole time, so maybe it's worth it to wait. Good luck!

Personally I would follow the pediatrician's advice (although I used sunscreen with the okay of my ped long before that age on my third son.) If you are worried about bopping then leave the baby in the car seat while on board, that will protect the baby. The biggest problem that I could see is the fact that the baby is too little for a life jacket...and all kids regardless of age should wear one while on a boat.

Good luck!!

H. Z. (SAHM 4 3/4, 3 1/2 and 13 month old boys)

Maybe for a nice smooth sail but if the baby is too young for sunscreen, than NO. If the PD says no, then there should be no question by your husband. What is more important?

If the boat is going slow, yes. If they are going for a joy ride, no. All the babies in my family have gone out in my dad's boat. They have all been fine...youngest was a few weeks old. However he goes slowly. They wear big hats to cover their heads and long sleeves.

Hi M.,
My oldest is 6 years older than the youngest. The initial adjustment of activities that are appropriate for the WHOLE family is difficult. It's not fair to risk the health or safety of one for the rest of the group's enjoyment. It also seems unfair to hold the group back because of the little one's needs. However, we have a responsibility to make good choices no matter how tough, that's what we signed on for as parents. Let your husband take the 10 year old out, you stay back with the baby, everyone have dinner together later.
That's what we did when we vacationed on Winnipesaukee when each of our three were infants. They grow fast!!!

Who is going to be taking the child out? You and your husband or just him? I would say use your mothers intuition and do whatever feels right to you. If you and your husband are going out and you're confident that he can handle the boat in a gentle manner while you are tending to the baby then I'd say go for it if you want to. However, if he's trying to take the kids out on the boat alone definitely NO WAY. There's probably a reason you don't feel comfortable with this and I would also say listen to that gut instinct. Something else you could do is check out what the Coast Guard or your local Marine Patrol has to say on the issue!

What kind of boat? A motorboat that you or your husband is driving slowly and safely? Sure. Can you wear the baby in a bjorn or other carrier? that might help with the head control issue, and then he can wear a hat. However, if you mean a canoe or something, I would say no too.

I agree with the others, follow your instincts. With that being said I will say that I did bring my just a few week old on a boat his first summer. It was a very quick trip to get to an island where we were staying. I left him in his carseat, kept him out of the sun and PRAYED...I was sick with stress!!! But the driver was very sympathetic and I think equally as nervous. Personally I'm with you, all day out on a boat cn be a lot for a grown-up and aside from the sun and motion could be stressful in other ways for your little one.

GOod Luck!!!! You will make the right choice!

No. Your husband needs to weigh the possible risk against the possible benefit. (damage vs fun) The pediatrician is right, and your husband needs to realize that the baby will be this small for such a short time. He will get to have fun later, but right needs to respect that the baby will be at risk.

I think you should put your foot down! That's just too young to take in a boat. The baby isn't going to get any enjoyment out of it and you'll just be miserable trying to take care of him/her! It sounds pretty simple to me. The pediatrician says it's dangerous.... so you don't do it!
Tell your husband that you are making this decision and he can go without you!

I was able to convince my husband that my daughter needed a life jacket and because we could not find one smaller than 20lbs, he had to wait until she was 20lbs (which for her was 17 months old). Now she enjoys lots of boat rides....

I'd say you and your pediatrician out-weigh your husband. In a few more months, it will be safer, but until then your husband will just have to wait before he can show off his favorite toy to your baby. Tell him this is the perfect opportunity to model patience and understanding to your 10 year old. And then let him take the 10 year old out on the boat while you and the baby have some quiet time on shore.

Listen to your pediatrician...better safe than sorry!

I would go with no if that is what the doctor said. The sunscreen thing can be handled with making sure your baby is covered with shade at all time but my concern would be the heavy movement from the boat not only for your babies neck and spine but also for motion sickness. That will not be a good day for you to have a super cranky and vomiting little one.
My rule of thumb has always been to just take the advice from the doctor.
I am not sure if this is a day thing on the boat but if it is have your husband take your oldest and you relax on the beach with your little one under and umbrella. Or maybe you can have a sitter and enjoy time with your husband.

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