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Toddlers in the boat.


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Ballers!

 

My son just turned 1 and I’m super excited to bring him out with me in the boat. My ski buddy and I often ski alone which means there’s going to be a lot for the driver to focus on.

 

I’ve been thinking about putting a baby bike seat in the boat to use once in the course. Doesn't feel super though since he won't fit in there with his lifejacket and I don't want him to be strapped to the boat if something goes wrong.

 

There must be a lot of you Ballers who ski with toddlers in the boat, how do you do it?

 

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Both my kids loved hanging with us as babies and toddlers. We installed a car set base attached to the spotter seat (using an aftermarket seatbelt that we also installed). We faced the kid toward the front and kept the handle in the upright position as the best combination to avoid any risk related to the rope. Obviously, we also used a shock tube at all times.

 

In most places, this setup is technically illegal, but what I care about is what is safe, and I deemed this the safest possible setup. A few people commented about being "attached" to the boat, but I see that as a totally misplaced fear. In slalom usage, when could that possibly be a bad thing? And in the incredibly unlikely event that you need to remove the kid quickly, the entire seat releases easily OR the kid can be unstrapped from the seat easily.

 

Fwiw, this setup was SO much better than what we had to do a few years later with the kid sitting on her own in a full vest. Being able to move presented a huge range of risks that were simply not present with the car seat setup.

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as you said there's going to be a lot for the driver to focus on and there should be someone there to be focus on your son . I have my first grandchild turning 1 this summer and I would to have him in the boat when I ski but his safety comes first
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Find a used full on big car seat and strap it to passenger seat close to driver. Plenty wide enough and deep enough for a vest wearing toddler. And the added seat hight will be great for him seeing over motor box. Most likely he will use it for years just because of the better visual. Agree, do not strap him in. Car seat advantage is the support on the sides for sharp turns and the slant to the seat itself where gravity will help keep him in and its a little tougher to hop out on a whim. The stability from the seat design will help him not fatigue and get fussy do to the support like a race car drivers seat.

 

More importantly is the amount of involvement he has during slalom sets. He will get bored and want out of the seat sooner then u think he would. So engage him. As the skier passes each ball count out loud with him (really loud so he can hear u 1-6). Each time u attach or shorten the rope, teach him the color. Have him pull it in (can be done from seat if u hand him a little part). When skier says hit it, he says hit it. When skier falls yell Down down down..and he will start to say it. When skier is on the platform ready to get it, he gets to say go or jump in. Be creative. Give him breaks from sitting so long..life jackets are hot and uncomfortable. Let your ski buddies know he's part of the team and how he's involved. Your ski buddies will feel less stressed driving and watching a toddler if they know the game plan. If he does get out of hand (it happens) you also have to be prepared to stop skiing, park the boat and get him to understand that his behavior is the cause. He will learn quick that you do not mean business if all you do is threaten and not follow through...only takes one or two times of that. Do not discipline him in the boat and then keep skiing. He will associate the boat time with bad times. But I'm sure you thought of most of this already. :)

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At 1 yr old with no adult passenger, Buford always sat on my lap when I was driving. I ALWAYS use a shock tube when she is in the boat.

 

I guess I used a car seat a few times but there is no really good way to secure it without power tools.

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Not to be politically incorrect but boys are different in general. Would think lap sitting could cause all kinds of potential problems. And yes, handyman car seat instal will prob require power tools. I saw someone's car seat in a 200 not to long ago secured with a ratchet strap..no tools required.
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A good stable car seat with a swim vest is sufficient. Wedge it against the side of the boat and it won't move much. Do NOT strap the car down. While highly unlikely, if the boat tipped over, you'd have a huge problem. Also need to be a bit smarter/cautious with driving and skiing... let go of the handle to help minimize handle pops.
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In risk mitigation, we must consider both the likelihood and the severity. Getting hit by an asteroid while skiing is severe, but we don't plan for it because it is unbelievably unlikely.

Up to each of you to determine what to spend your time and effort toward mitigating.

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I have decided to start wearing the safety cutoff lanyard while driving if only small children are riding in the boat....for the very unlikely event that I have a stroke or something while driving.

 

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congrats @ErikBerghiller My son also just turned 1. He hasn't been out on the boat this year yet. I really need to get him comfortable using his vest. Every time we put it on he is not a happy camper. I like the idea of having him sit in the lap of the driver. I might try and warm him up to that by having him sit with me in the boat at home. We ski a private site and don't always have a spotter. Last year when he was super small we just used the infant car seat on the floor. He is much too big.
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Sorry Guy's for me a Toddler should only be in the boat if there is a Observer/Adult to supervise and protect, when things go wrong they go wrong when you are least expecting it and it goes wrong really fast, please be responsible and think about a childs safety, in and around the the boat.
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Thank you guys for all the input!

 

@JBB Seems like a good solution but it might take a few years to get it in place!

 

@keithh2oskier Right back at you :) I have the same problem with the vest, right now we let him wear it at home just to get used to it. Hope it pays off!

 

@Than_Bogan Sounds like a good solution, do you happen to have any pictures on the setup?

 

@Wish Thank you for all the tips on how to keep him occupied!

 

So, let's say I'll go with the car seat solution, which btw seems like a good solution even if we decide only to bring him in the boat once we have a spotter:

 

Turning him backwords will give him a lot more to look at and he will be more involved in what is going on, but with a higher risk for rope related problems.

 

Turning him forward will prevent motion sickness/be safer but he will see less and probably try to turn around in the chair to see whats happening behind the boat.

 

@Than_Bogan and @Wish Please motivate why you turned the car seat the way you did :)

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Like Than said. Risk has to be determined and reward must out way that risk to do what you feel is best. . Our kid (20 now) faced the skier for 4yrs before we ditched the car seat all together. She liked sitting up high and didn't want to get rid of it till she was older. We used a really good (not worn out) shock tube. Never really worried about the rope as the instance was so crazy low. Like an asteroid as than mentioned. :D

 

If turned facing windshield I can predict him getting bored as there will be no way to engage him and he will barely be able to see over the bottom of the windshield. Safer..maybe. A more fussy child...likely. Again, seat secured closest to driver so you can reach him for entertainment and other purposes. But if you have skiers that send the rope into the boat even some of the time, the risk is higher. We just had smart skiers that knew when to let go.

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I’m going through the same thing with an 8 month old boy. He is not a fan of the vest. If an adult is holding him is anyone okay with no life jacket? Have not attempted any outings with no spotter yet.
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@dnewton As Than and others mentioned. Risk/reward. Every child is different. My kids did fine with a vest in a car seat and when they outgrew the seat, they knew they had to sit still while the boat was moving. A lot of dry runs (to feel comfortable) and a little discipline goes a long ways (easier said than done).
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Ours was in the boat at ~2 months, wife and I skied, he either was asleep in the passenger seat or on the floor on a new dog bed with pillows. We drove sanely?

The minute we started the boat and drove to the course, he was fast asleep. Woke up for milk, diaper change and cool off in the water with one of us holding him and then back to sleep. Have a cheap oscillating fan as well.

He’s 14 now in B2....

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We had a rule that our kids wore life jackets anytime they were at the lake, whether they were on shore or in the boat. If they didn't comply, they had to go back in the car. We did not use coast guard approved jackets when they were little, just thin speedo ones without neck support from Target to make sure they would float if they got out of our sight for a second. They were more comfortable that way and did not complain as much. Once they started swimming and skiing, we switched to CGA jackets. The were NEVER allowed on the dock or boat without a jackets - set the precedent early so it becomes natural to have one on.
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Slight threadjack. We found a cheap Stearns nylon jacket was better than anything else since it accounted for the fact

Babies don’t have necks. All the others (including the fancy neo one left at home) sure super tight around neck and pushed up on their head.

Find a jacket that fits. I think the puddle jumpers may be CGA?

Need to be comfortable....

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My daughter was on my wife’s lap a few times until she got her little finger pinched by the throttle (first blood). It was a long swim not knowing what the two of them were crying about and why the boat shutdown immediately after I was pulled up. Like others have suggested we didn’t ski without a third to babysit after that. My little cousin was a big help but wouldn’t leave the wakeboard home and ski.
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@MS thought process:

 

…300 yds to the deep part of the lake, challenge them to swim to shore without their lifejackets, run the boat around them in circles….nice 3 ft high waves for them to try to keep above water……maybe 4 or 5 laps around and I can head back for another beer with some peace and quiet….

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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I've found this to be the best way. He swings when we take off and crash. If we whip at one end he goes side to side which he loves. I'm training him now to catch the handle in the event that I pop it. Only 3 black eyes so far! The person before me must have had a baby too because when I bought the boat it came with the built in baby swing bar. Or at least I think that's what it's for. Can't imagine another legitimate reason to keep that goofy looking thing on a ski boat. w019ndgc1rxh.jpg

 

All joking aside, I'm interested in hearing people's solutions too! Pictures people!

 

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My kids were both in the boat at less than two weeks old....they are now 22 and 25 and each turned out to be pretty good skiers...they were buckled in car seat attached on observers seat....while possible, I didn't consider it likely boat would sink....maybe I'm a risk taker and maybe that is why I like slalom
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