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Old 04-27-2009   #11
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
A couple of thoughts here. Started both my kids at the 2-3 yr old range.
Had lots of kids on the different rivers I have worked on.

I have seen many kids get there chins chafed with LJs that have thick over the shoulder padding. I ended up getting my little one the jacket below because it didn't have over shoulder padding. I made sure I could get it tight enough on her to pull her out by the shoulder strap and both of my kids know I will check it every single time before they get in. They both like them now and won't go to the swimming hole without them.

To pillow or not to pillow: We didn't. It would be nice to have the pillow but I personally hate the damn things. In the wind they are constantly whapping you in the face and generally getting in the way. Almost every drowning ( with some kayaking exception) I have heard of around the rivers I worked, had the pillow on and it didn't seem to make a difference. I think they may work but it seems slow to turn you over if you are not in that position to begin with.

FWIW. Seemed like I had more of a point when I started. Have fun. Boating with my kids is one of the best things I have done in my life.

This is an NRS youth jacket. wide flat shoulders. two side straps and a waist strap. No crotch strap. Bella was three and a half when this was taken. Just below Indian Creek on the Middle Fork Salmon.
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Old 04-27-2009   #12
TakemetotheRiver's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,477
Originally Posted by El Flaco View Post
Actually, Body Glove makes a nice vest that we got for our toddler. He screamed his head off when we finally put it on him to float the Upper C.

My advice - test drive that thing thoroughly at home, in the bathtub, etc so that your kiddo is used to it when you actually need them to wear it.
My son never minded the PFD because I always wore one, but another big draw for him was getting him a whistle to put on it. I'm sure I'll have to get him a river knife before long now...

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Old 04-27-2009   #13
timbuktu, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 679
Originally Posted by yarmonymatoid View Post
RealSport makes decent toddler vests. They are about $40 at DRE or other river stores. My sons been wearing one since he was 18 months and it works fine. It does not have the head rest but it has taught him to hold his head up. I've got four of them. Great to have around for other peoples kids too.
I just realized I said the wrong brand, I'm sure most of you knew what I meant... ExtraSport are the one's I have. Like I said, no head flap, not an issue for my guy. He would go crazy with it anyway. I really like the strap between the legs. During low water my boy will sit in an eddy and float around basically sitting on the strap.

I've had four kids in the boat at once, each wearing one of these. No complaints. My little guy actually likes it because it kinda looks like the big boy ones.

Volks Child - Extrasport®
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Old 04-27-2009   #14
rivermanryan's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 580
I have a couple infant PFD's. I would be willing to part with one if you need one. My kids are too old for them now.
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Old 04-27-2009   #15
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 116
Thanks for all the great advice. Rivermanryan, I would definitely be interested if you want to shoot me a pm and let me know how much you would like.
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Old 04-28-2009   #16
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
This is the one my son has: Toddler Pursuit CGA He's 2 1/2 and about 30 lbs. We've had him in this one since his 1st birthday. The neoprene is way more comfortable for him than the first PDF we had for him which was nylon. We found it at Costco for $30.

As for when to get the kiddos on the river, we took our son on the Roaring Fork from Carbondale to Black Bridge for his first run at about 10 months (mid-summer) and then took him on a 3-day Ruby float for his first birthday. Last summer we took him on a Rio Chama trip and on the Pumphouse (late summer) and he did fine on both trips. This summer we're going on a Deso trip and probably a few day trips here and there.

I'd highly recommend putting your kids in this class if you haven't already:
Baby Swimming Lessons, Infant Swimming Instruction, Survival Swimming Instructors

We put our son in the class at 6 mo. and he learned how to float by 1 yr. Now he does what they call swim-float-swim. To 'graduate' from the class, you put your kid in jeans, a jacket, shoes, etc. and they basically throw them in the pool to see if they can rollover and float. It's amazing to see how the instructors can get an infant to actually rollover, calm down, breath and float. I can't recommend this strongly enough if you're going to have your kids on the water. I realize that a pool and whitewater are two completely different things but you have to start somewhere.

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