Paddle Boarding with Kids

Paddle Boarding with Kids

Stand-up paddling is becoming increasingly popular in every age group. But especially children regularly get big and sparkling eyes when they see a SUP board. In almost every lido and on most bodies of water, you can see and hear how much fun the little ones have with it on the water.

Even toddlers can have a great time on the water as passengers, and as they get older, the desire to steer a SUP board themselves comes automatically. How you can get your child really excited about stand-up paddling and what you have to watch out for so that no dangerous incidents occur, I’ll gladly tell you in this little guide.

Of course, as an adult you are responsible for the safety of the children and should therefore always choose the conditions so that you are always in control of the situation. If you heed the following 11 tips, nothing can go wrong and your kids will have a lot of SUP fun!

Tip 1: Pay attention to the ability to swim

Basically, every paddler, no matter how experienced, cannot prevent a fall into the water from time to time. The most important basic requirement for remaining calm in these situations is good swimming ability. Of course, this is especially true for children.

It is best if the child has already taken a swimming course and can stay afloat safely and also for a longer period of time. Otherwise, the first experiences with the SUP board must definitely take place in areas where the child can still stand (e.g. shore or non-swimmer areas on beaches and outdoor pools). Also, in these circumstances, you should always be nearby to intervene quickly in case of doubt.

boy stand up paddling

When SUPing with a toddler as a passenger, the swimming abilities of the little ones are of course not yet a factor. In these situations, you should always keep the following tip in mind:

Tip 2: Put on a life jacket

To be on the safe side, children should always wear a suitable life jacket. The smaller the offspring, the more important these lifesavers are. A proper life vest, unlike a life jacket, is fainting-proof.

Even in the worst case of unconsciousness, it turns you into a stable supine position and your head always remains above water. In order for the life jacket to work properly, it is urgent to choose the right model for the age and especially the weight of the child. The vest must fit well, close to the body and have sufficient buoyancy.

Floaties, tires or other buoyancy aids are not suitable for SUP with children, because they can slip when falling into the water and in the worst case are no help at all. When buying, it’s best to opt for a certified life jacket and make sure it’s the right size for your child. Safety is not a good area for frugality!

Tip 3: Accompanying person

Especially in the early days of SUP with a child, it is important that an adult companion is with you. In the best case, this should of course have experience in dealing with the SUP board. If you yourself are still insecure and wobbly on the board, it is not yet a good idea to take children on tour.

In addition, you should have very good swimming skills to be able to give assistance in case of emergency. If you are not a good swimmer yourself, you should also wear a good life jacket. As an escort, it is up to you to master difficult situations, so of course you have to take care of your own safety.

Tip 4: Instruction for toddlers

For SUP with a toddler, it is recommended to practice the use in advance in a playful way. Let the little ones climb onto the board on land and show them how they can best sit down quietly. Look for the best position together and try to find the best place to sit.

children on paddle board

You can also attach a piece of string to any D-rings you may have so that the child can hold onto them while riding. D-rings can also be retrofitted quite easily. A luggage net or carrying straps are also suitable for this purpose. In the next step, you can try it out in the water, but you should still stand next to the board and hold it.

To be on the safe side, you can also practice falling into the water by letting the child fall off the board, first into your arms and later directly into the water. It is immensely important that the child feels safe on the board before you get on and start riding. The more often you practice this, the more carefree you can then enjoy the first little laps on the water!

Tip 5: Instruction for self-paddling children and teenagers.

The older the kids are, the greater the desire for independence. At some point, they want to have their own experiences and go out on their own. In order for this to work out well, you have to teach them the necessary basics.

The basic prerequisite here is, of course, that you have mastered these skills yourself. If not, then get someone with more experience to help you or do a beginner’s course together. With good instruction, you can avoid many beginner mistakes and quickly experience your first sense of achievement.

The most important exercises are

  • Attach the leash (read: How To Choose A Surfboard Leash)
  • Adjusting the length of the paddle
  • practice getting on the board
  • find the right standing position
  • learning the right paddle stroke
  • Steer and turn the SUP board
  • get back on the board after a fall
  • discuss special rules of conduct on the water (right of way etc.)

The best place to practice this when SUP with kids is a calm shallow water area where the child or teen can still stand. Only when these basic lessons succeed safely and without problems, you can say goodbye to the shallow water and slowly explore the other water zones.

Tip 6: Choose the right paddle

Next to the board, the paddle is the most important piece of equipment. When SUPing with a child, it is especially important that the paddle fits the size of the user. As a rule of thumb, you can say that the paddle should be set between 15 and 20 cm longer than the body size. For smaller children, it is therefore often necessary to purchase a special, shorter model. (read: How to choose a paddle of sup)


However, older children and teenagers can also use adult models. In principle, infinitely adjustable paddles are ideal for children and teenagers. These models grow with the child and can be used for a long time.

Tip 7: Consider board dimensions

When SUPing with a toddler as a passenger, you can of course use any adult board with sufficient load capacity. But if the little ones want to go on tour independently, then the models for adults are usually less suitable. Children and teenagers are often overwhelmed with these dimensions and especially the length.

Short and overall rather compact boards with a light weight are best suited for children. Handling on land is easier with such boards and they can be steered much more agilely. We have presented boards and paddles for children in a separate article. Of course, older youngsters with sufficient height and strength can also use their parents’ boards.

Tip 8: Protection against cold and sun

The sun’s rays, reflected by the water surface, can be very intense on nice days. Delicate children’s skin is naturally particularly susceptible to UV radiation(read: Sun Protection While Surfing). Therefore, as an adult, you must take appropriate precautions and protect your child from too much sun with suitable headgear and a good portion of sunscreen (waterproof and with a high sun protection factor). There are now also stylish swim shirts for children that are easy to wear and offer very good sun protection.


Even on cooler days, SUP with a child does not always have to be completely canceled. But you should pay attention to the weather-appropriate clothing. When the child first says that he is freezing, it is usually already too late. After a fall into the water, it may be better to dry off and warm up on land before starting again.

Tip 9: Choose the right water

The choice of water when SUPing with children is enormously important. Shallow and calm waters are best for the first experiences. Swimming lakes with designated non-swimmer areas offer great conditions for the first sense of achievement.

As the children’s and young people’s skills improve, however, all other types of water gradually come into question. Until then, lakes and canals with a calm surface are the best choices. Besides, children usually prefer swimming fun with their friends to the (boring) paddling trip of the adults.

Tip 10: Observe prohibitions

Of course there are special rules, regulations and also prohibitions at most waters. Here again, it is your responsibility to inform the little ones about which regulations apply and how to behave. So that you can get an idea of the current situation at the various bodies of water throughout Germany, you can find a list of the current restrictions and prohibitions here!

Tip 11: Pack provisions

When children are fully in their element, they often forget to eat and drink. So always pack enough to drink and a few small snacks (fruit, finger food, etc.) when you are out and about together. It’s best to stow the provisions in a dry bag so that everything is waterproof.

Surprise the little SUP heroes with a little picnic in the middle of the lake, this will lift your spirits and give you strength for the next adventure.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about SUP with children

From what age is Stand Up Paddling with children possible?

Even small children can gain their first experience on a SUP board. If you pay attention to the safety aspects and practice the procedures with them as described in tip 4, then nothing stands in the way of a small SUP tour with a small child as a passenger.
A good age to independently make the first attempts on a SUP board is usually the (pre-) school time. However, it is always important that the child can swim safely. At 5 or 6 years old, children usually have enough skills (physical and mental) to successfully master the demands of stand-up paddling.

Early practice…is the saying, but you should always take it easy and practice all the necessary skills with the child step by step through play. It is very important that your child has fun first and foremost, but also understands that it is enormously important to take care of themselves and others.

Can children use an adult SUP board?

When SUPing with kids, the board size is quite crucial. Small children and teenagers are usually overwhelmed with the dimensions of an adult board. Short and compact all-round boards are best suited for this purpose, because they are much easier to steer and turn than long boards.
Of course, there are also numerous children’s models on the market. Older teenagers already have a bit more power and can also ride boards for adults. Ultimately, it always depends on the individual strength and body size.

Should children SUP board themselves or ride with adults?

That depends on the individual case. The best way to introduce young children to SUP is to first take them out on the water as sitting passengers. In the beginning, the main thing is that the child feels safe and is not afraid on the wobbly board.
The rest of the procedure should depend on your child. Usually, at some point, the child will want to take the next step anyway, and the rest will come on its own. When the desire for independence grows, you should train the necessary skills with your child step by step.

The most important thing is that you always give the child the feeling of safety, then the fun of stand-up paddling comes all by itself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.