little ones on the boat
i'll throw in my 2 cents here.
first of all, there are people that feel strongly on BOTH sides of this issue- and differences of opinion are what make the world go round. disagreeing doesnt mean that anyone is right or wrong.
that having been said, life is full of calculated risks. i, for one, FULLY support getting kids out on the river as soon as possible. i have two girls- one just turned three and the other just turned one- and i've done many, many overnight floats with them. the keyword there is FLOATS.
to me, the rewards of watching your kids play in the sand, gaze at the stars, chase little lizards, etc. when they COULD be glued to a television set or video game system outweigh the risk associated. runs like ruby/horsetheif (you can even WALK blackrocks on a well-maintained trail if you're not comfortable with the flows, etc.) labyrinth, etc. represent AMAZING opportunities for some family time "away from it all." of course, people might give you strange looks at the put-in when you're strapping your car seat to the frame. i've gotten the same looks with my girls on my back at ski resorts. again, it's calculated risk. the truth of the matter is that the car ride to the put-in was statistically FAR more dangerous than your time on the river, assuming that you're paying close attention to your child's needs and safety.
my bottom line is this: trips with young kids aren't the time to be boozing or running big water, but done correctly, the'yre invaluable experiences for the young ones and the old ones alike.