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Old 05-25-2007   #1
I'm wrong 50% of the time
brendodendo's Avatar
RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 857
How old should a child be?

My wife wants some reassurance. We have a 4 month old boy and I love the water. We are thinking of taking him on a trip this weekend down the Roaring Fork from Carbondale to CMC turn off ( pink to black). It is a very flat run with no white water. He would be in a baby bjorn on her chest and I would be on the oars. We would be very heads up and careful.

What do you think? What experiences have you had?



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Old 05-25-2007   #2
peterB's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 567
I've got a 4 month old little girl. I've done the run with a 3 month old ... it was fine, if a bit nerve racking. I'd wait for a low wind day and make sure you can rig up some shade. I'd say one adult per child under 2 and one more for 2 or 3 under 5. We might take her down ruby horsethief this summer, its a bit flatter and we know she's a good camper.

by the way we went to move the tree and it was already out of the way.

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Old 05-25-2007   #3
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580

We took our son down the Animas in town Durango when he was 1-1/2. He actually slept through Smelter! Anyway, now that I look back, I probably had them out there a little too young, but I think it really depends on you and how much risk you would like to accept. What would be the worse case scenerio? Can you wear the baby bjorn with a PFD? What are the chances something could happen, 1 in 100, 1in 1000 or 1 in a million? If you are okay with those odds and you are comfortable with having your son's life in your hands, go for it.

No doubt babies that age like to be outdoors, but they probably wouldn't know the difference between riding in a stroller in the park or being on a raft. You would most likely be doing it for yourselves and not for the baby. Why not find a babysitter and run Shoshone instead?

I think around age 2 they start to appreciate being on the river. And, at that age they can wear a PFD of their own. Also, never tie the kid directly to the raft (car seat, etc.) I only run stuff that if they plop out, they will be okay, even if it will scare the **** out of them. My daughter, age 3 at the time, was horsing around and fell out of the raft on a flat section of the Moab daily. Wearing her PFD, she popped right up and we pulled her in. Scared her pretty good, but she still loves river trips.

Enjoy the experience, but don't be too big of a hurry!
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Old 05-25-2007   #4
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Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 583
I have a 2 1/2 year old son. We just took him out sailing on Rudei reservoir last weekend and he enjoyed it. When he was 1 we took him sea kayaking on the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii twice and both times he slept thru the experience. There were some waves and the wind was blowing but nothing major. He wore a PFD both times.

I would suggest nothing over class II+. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-25-2007   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Probably would be stressful, but I've seen it done. I can't remember my son's age on his first float, but I think it was at about 2 on the pumphouse section of the upper Colorado. Personally, I would wait until they can walk and talk and are able to take minimal instructions, like "We're screwed! Hold onto mama like your life depends on it!".

I saw someone put on the Dolores with a baby in a car seat on their raft and that stressed me out just looking at it. I would wait until you think they are old enough that a cold swim with or without mama is not going to be a killer.
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Old 05-25-2007   #6
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Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
Remember too that little kids can be affected by scary experiences in a way that will change their taste for whitewater as they grow - but that depends on personality. I was scared as a kid to run rapids, but I almost always chose to do it rather than to walk them - but my dad always gave me the choice - and when I swam my first III at five, it was scary, but ok, because I had made the choice to run it (and dad knew there was a one mile pool below it). Being able to choose for myself I think made a big difference for how I perceived the river and came to love it.

The other consideration unfortunately is the law - some folks might call the cops if you have a little kid in rapids, and if God forbid, a kid died, the state would definitely take an interest in how that happened. I've never run that section, so I can't say what I'd do there.
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Old 05-25-2007   #7
Highlands Ranch, CO Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 482
I am taking my 11 month on his first trip this monday, I am going to do big bend to salida on the ark.

I chose that section, because it is short and flat. I didn't want him to be out too long on his first trip as well the only hazard is the boat chute and the whitewater park. I feel completely confident with my skills to take him down that section. He will have his pfd on as well as my wife holding onto him.

My biggest concern is that he will keep taking his hat off.

Have fun out there.
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Old 05-25-2007   #8
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
We parents make so many sacrifices with infants. It seems that people overprotect their kids when they are little, get burned out on parenting, and then put too little effort into parenting when the kids are older than 10 or 12.

Take care of yourself as well as the kid. Lead your life. Take some reasonable precautions. If the wife is OK with the run, it is probably fine.
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Old 05-26-2007   #9
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
my thoughts are when taking someone who cant swim, be 100% sure you wont flip. some people say you cant be 100% sure but i think they are wrong.
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Old 05-26-2007   #10
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 42
Go for it.

11 months is pretty young, but I took my little baby out in our canoe on class 1 stuff and she loved it. I would not feel comfortable paddling anything above 1 until the child is big enough to fit into a PFD, and even then only VERY MILD class II.

Anyway, let me tell you a horror story to sober you up and help you decide:
I have a friend that went kayaking on a local river (class II but recent rains had raised the level and the water was moving very quickly and was filled with strainers) and saw a canoe with a panicked mom and dad trying to find their very young child that had been swept away when they had capsized, asking everyone they saw "have you seen our baby boy?". I don't know if they ever found the child.

The point is, I always look at the river and pretend that chance of capsize is 100%: would I feel comfortable with my child in that water? If not, then I won't take them in that river. I'll wait until they can swim stronger, or pick a different run.

So even though I've run little class II like the Nantahala without problems, the thought of the little ones swimming there horrifies me because it's too swift, it convinced me to hold off a while.

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