Water Safety Tips

How do you keep kids safe when hiking near or through water?

We all want to make sure our kids stay safe.  So how do you balance teaching your children a healthy respect of the water, while still letting them enjoy the opportunities that water can provide?

  1. Check out the creek/river before bringing your children, it may help you plan for risks better.  For example, we only go to the creek when my just over 1 year old can stay with my husband, because he is curious, but not ready.
  2. Before unleashing your children in the water, review safety rules with them
  3. No children near the water without a grown up.  For us, one side of the trail is off limits because of cliffs and water.  So they are not allowed to go off the trail on that side without a grown up.
  4. Kids always stay close to the grown up when we are in or near water.
  5. Help them find ways to learn to use their own judgement about rock steadiness, or slipperiness.
  6. Look for spots where the water is shallower than your child’s knees.
  7. Be sure there is little to no current.
  8. Dress appropriately, for us on a warmer day in the winter, the kids wear full rain gear with elastic leg holes – over their snow suits, with lined rubber boots.
  9. Let them explore, there is so much to do at the creek!!

Fear for your child’s safety is natural.  However, if you don’t introduce some risky play to your young child, how will they learn to deal with fear.

Be safe about it, but with the right creek, water play is awesome.

Playing in Nature teaches cooperation


I am learning to cooperate!!

Building big forts, with big branches requires many small helping hands.  The kids will need to work on negotiating when they have a really big idea and need other people to get involved.  Caleb wanted to build a giant fort, but Elise started to build her own, and Belle was just exploring the bugs on her own.  Caleb had to figure out a way to get his sisters interested in his idea so he could have the manpower required to build his fort.

Seeing someone needing help, assisting them, and the feelings associated with helping others.  Mixing ages helps the younger kids be able to learn to advocate for their needs, and older kids develop a sense of responsibility for smaller children.

Some risky play, like wading into a creek gives the kids a chance to work as a unit.  They discover how far we can go, and communicate with each other about depth and water movement, trying to keep each other safe.


Nature allows kids to fully focus on tasks and each other.  There is no toy from a store that will encourage children to cooperate like a natural forest playscape will.