You’re wanting to buy a bodyboard for your kids but a little overwhelmed as to which is the best bodyboard for kids? This guide will break down what to look for and the best bodyboard to get.
Best Bodyboards for First Timers
Bodyboarding is a great sport for kids to partake in. As soon as your kids are comfortable in the surf, they are ready to get into bodyboarding.
By comfortable, we mean that they have been exposed to the surf on a few occasions, have had a few tumbles and scrapes and are not completely green to the ocean.
We certainly do not recommend that you get your kids on a bodyboard if they have never been out in the open water.
So, you’re about to introduce bodyboarding to your kids for the very first time so you have no idea how well they will go or if they will even like it. The recommendations below help you to buy the best bodyboard for kids that won’t break the bank.
For a first timer, there are plenty of boards in the USD $15 to USD $40 price range that will be perfect for kids getting started in the sport.
These boards are pretty much indestructible and are perfect for catching the choppy broken waves that kids love and riding them all the way to the sand.
At this stage, it’s more of a play in the water more than anything else. You should be helping your kids catch the broken waves.
This is the time you’ll be able to ascertain if it’s something they love to do and if they have a natural affinity to the bodyboarding. As you have no idea if they will enjoy it, there is no point in getting anything more expensive than USD $40.
What the core of the bodyboard is made of is a big factor in the price range.
In this recommend price range, you’ll be able to get a board with an Expanded Polystyrene Core (EPS), which will do the job very well.
The board will be lightweight and buoyant which helps keep kids above the water.
When purchasing your child’s first bodyboard, do make sure that it comes with a leash.
The leash is designed to attach the bodyboard to your child’s wrist. This is to help stop the bodyboard get washed away in the surf.
It is a good idea for kids to get used to the leash. The bodyboard is a semi floatation device and if you child gets caught in a rip, it can help save their life. You want the board and child connected at all times.
Most entry level boards have a single Velcro strap that is very easy to get on and off for kids.
Now that you’ve worked out the price range you should be spending, what the bodyboard is made of and that it needs a leash, it’s time to decide on the size to buy.
The general rule of thumb is that the board should come up to your belly button when resting on the ground.
Another way to size a board is the chin to knee model which means that if you hold the board in front of you it would fit from just under your chin to just above your knees, which is a reflection of how you position yourself on a board while riding it.
Bear in mind when purchasing a bodyboard however, that kids grow pretty rapidly. A bodyboard that is perfect for your child may only last one season.
When buying a board for children it’s important to think about how often you will be using it. If you’re at the beach every weekend for summer then you will get good use out of any board and buying a board for that season may be appropriate.
However, if you only visit the beach sporadically or want to get a second season out of the board, it’s a good idea to buy something on the bigger side.
The other advantage of a larger board is that they float really well. This makes it much easier for kids to catch the broken whitewash waves by walking to where they catch the waves rather than have to paddle out.
Bigger boards are also generally less manoeuvrable meaning straighter rides are more common. Lastly the bigger boards will allow kids to get a second season out of them.
Bodyboards for kids come in all sorts of colours and patterns. Whilst it may be impossible to sway them otherwise, try getting a lighter coloured bodyboard.
The reason we prefer lighter colours is because darker coloured bodyboards attract heat and if left in the sun for long periods, the boards can warp and lose shape.
Despite constantly nagging our daughter, she tends to just throw the bodyboard aside when she’s had enough or prefers to hang out with her friends for some sand play.
To reduce the warping, always store it in a shaded spot e.g., in your tent if you’re erecting one or at least place a towel over the top of it.
Best to have it standing, leaning against something or at the least have the deck side (the side you put your body on) on the sand so it’s not in direct heat.
Although this has nothing to do with understanding which is the best bodyboard to buy for your child, we thought it prudent to mention this safety aspect.
If your child is not a strong swimmer it might be worth investing in a life vest for them to wear while they are in the surf.
They won’t impede your child’s riding experience and will add an element of safety. They are relatively cheap and like boards for kids come in a range of colours and sizes.
Also, they fit over rash vests and sun shirts.
To quickly summarise the above points:
- Budget between USD $15 to USD $40.
- It will have an Expanded Polystyrene Core (EPS) core or above.
- Make sure it comes with a leash.
- It at least meets a minimum size of up to your belly button when resting on the ground. See sizing chart for more details.
- Get a lighter colour for longevity.
- Bonus point: invest in a life vest if they are not strong swimmers.
Best Bodyboards For Advancing Kids
Once your kids get the hang of how to catch waves themselves and are able to turn on the wave or they might even be starting to catch unbroken waves, you will need to consider a better-quality body board for them.
These recommendations are based on the fact that you feel your kids have outgrown the light foam boards and for them to improve, they are going to need a better bodyboard.
For the kids to progress onto the next step, you will need to start thinking about upgrading their bodyboarding. A good starting point is knowing that such a bodyboard will be in the USD $50 to USD $120 price range.
If you’re thinking USD $120 is a lot to spend on your 8-year-old, you’re not alone.
To help you make this decision, we will explain why it may be worth the expense from a specification view point.
The first thing you’ll find different is the deck construction. The deck is the side of the bodyboard that you lay on. It is made of a softer material, which will allow kids to shift their weight during turns.
Some decks will have contours that show the rider where to position their arms and hands during turns which is good for kids.
The slick or underside of the bodyboard, although looks very similar to a first timer board, will be made from Surlyn. This is a better-quality material that will last a lot longer and offer a better ride.
By the time you are getting into boards with Surlyn slicks it’s probably better not to ride the waves all the way to the sand. Slicks in general perform better when they are smooth.
This price range will also enable you to look for a bodyboard with at least one stringer to add some stiffness to the board.
Stringers are rods that are built into the core of the board and help the board flex back to its original shape while coming out of turns.
Some boards may have two stringers which adds even more stiffness to the board if you think you might be riding big waves.
Additionally, stringers tend to ensure the board will hold its shape and help the board last longer.
And of course, the core of the bodyboard is of a better quality. Read more below.
Upgrading your bodyboard to this price range should get you a bodyboard with Polyethylene (PE). It’s important that you ensure this is case so that you’re getting value for money.
The Polyethylene (PE) core is a far more flexible core from the Expanded Polystyrene Core (EPS) entry level models we mentioned above.
This will allow more control and offer a softer ride in general. You will notice that the board will be of better quality all round.
With these PE bodyboards, you will notice a different leash set up from the simple Velcro straps on the entry level EPS boards.
These boards come with a more robust design, stronger cord and often a cuff style wrist loop that slides over your hand rather than just attaching a strap of Velcro.
On most boards, the leash will be attached or “plugged” to the board in the centre close to the nose. However, you may get to choose the position that the leash is attached to your board if it hasn’t been plugged yet.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference for a beginner, but as you progress in the sport it can help for the leash to be plugged on the same side as the cuff is attached to your arm. This will help stop the cord getting onto the board while paddling out to catch waves.
Besides, now that you’ve spent more money on a new bodyboard, you want it to be as secure as possible!
Now, time to think about the size again. Thankfully, the general rule still applies. The board should reach the rider’s belly button when resting upright on the ground.
You will again need to consider how often you will be using the board and how much your child is likely to grow in one season. If you’re unsure, a bigger board is often the best way to go as it will offer better floatation and room for growth. However, it shouldn’t be so big that your child can’t carry it to the water!
We understand that it is a bit of catch 22 as to whether you should get a bodyboard that fits perfectly so the kids can get the best out of their experience or get some slightly bigger to save on costs but at the risk of it being too difficult for them to handle.
Perhaps the best way to make this decision apart from how regular you’ll be in the water is understanding your child’s skill level.
Some kids have a greater affinity for the sport than others. If you feel your child is a slow learner but has potential, perhaps a proper fitting bodyboard would be best.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your child is a gun and is just zooming around like they have been doing it forever, a slightly bigger bodyboard will be handled with no trouble at all.
Colours can have an impact on the life of a board. Once you start spending more money on a bodyboard, it is important to understand the effects of colour and heat.
Basically, darker coloured surfaces attract heat, which can cause your body board to warp and lose shape. Also, the deck will blister and you will notice bubbles forming.
What this means is that if board care is likely to be an issue, look for body boards with lighter coloured decks and slicks. Black and dark blue will heat up very quickly. White and yellow tend not to.
The simplest way to manage this is to not leave your body boards laying in the sun once your kids have finished using them.
Again, we know this is nothing to do with bodyboards for your kids but while you’re at the shops or you’re shopping online, you might to consider investing in a bodyboard bag to carry your bodyboards. It has been a game changer for us!
Look for one that is robust and has strong zippers, it should at least have back straps and even better a shoulder strap if possible. Also consider one that can fit at least 3 boards as these will often fit 2 full size and 2 smaller boards.
You will find having a bag that you carry on your back that fits all your boards a huge help on beach day (You will still have two free hands to carry other things too). You can also put the boards back into the bag to keep them out of the sun once the kids are finished in the water.
To quickly summarise the above points:
- Upgrade to a bodyboard which may cost between the USD $50 to USD $120.
- Has a Polyethylene (PE) core.
- Better leash that has a stronger cord and often a cuff style wrist loop instead of a simple Velcro set up.
- Size is the same rule of thumb. If resting tall on the ground should reach your belly button. Check sizing guide for a bigger board.
- Get a lighter colour for longevity.
- Bonus point: Invest in a bodyboard bag for convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
A boogie board is the trademark name for the first board that was invented by Tom Morey in the 70s. Living in Hawaii at the time, surfer Tom Morey wanted to create a more user friendly apparatus so that everyone could enjoy the surf. With newspaper and foam in hand, he created his first board.
He named the board the Morey boogie. Boogie coming from a style of jazz music called “boogie woogie”. Tom is quite the talented man and he was a jazz drummer and he loved this genre of jazz. He called the board Morey boogie because he felt like it was a “boogie” on the waves.
The term bodyboard was later used because boogie boards were trademarked by the toy company Tom Morey sold his invention to. As other companies started making their own boards, they needed it to be called something more generic.
Therefore, there is essentially no difference between the 2. Although it is said that the boogie boards now refer to the cheaper, foam type boards while the bodyboards refer to the proper boards for serious bodyboarders.
As a parent, you don’t need to be an experienced bodyboarder to teach your kids how to bodyboard. This is the beauty of this sport and why we always try and encourage families to take it up. For detailed instructions, How To Catch Waves on a Bodyboard for Beginners is a fantastic place to start.
All you need to do is to place your child prone on the bodyboard facing the beach. As the wave approaches, place one hand at the back of the bodyboard for the push and one hand on the side to help move them in the direction you want them to go. It may take a few tries but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
The ocean is never blindly safe. The currents, rips, depth, tide, wind all contribute to the ever changing nature of the water.
There are ways however to reduce the risks.
* Always bodyboard with your family in patrolled beaches only where surf life savers are on hand in case you get in trouble.
* Teach your kids to be aware at all times and how to read rips so they know where not to go.
* If you have young children who are not strong swimmers, put a life vest on them.
* Don’t go out any further than you are comfortable with. Waist deep water is enough to bodyboard if the surf is strong.
* Learn to read the surf report so you know the conditions.
You can certainly get the cheaper bodyboards with handles if you think it might help your kids learn how to bodyboard. They are usually made for young children that don’t weigh too much and they are not suitable for big surf.
For a bit of a play to start with, it may not be a bad option. We still however recommend getting a proper board so they learn good habits from the start as you won’t be able to steer as well or control the bodyboard better.
I hope this guide has helped you make a decision about the most suitable bodyboard to get your kids. If you’re ready to get one, here are some of the best bodyboards for kids you can buy.
We got a very good bodyboard for our daughter straight off the bat because she was a bit of a natural, absolutely loved the surf and really enjoyed the sport. We wanted her to have the best equipment to help her hone in on her skill set.
Overtime, you will be able to ascertain how skilled your kids are and you’ll be able to decide on the best equipment required as they grow up.
Some may not follow through, some may decide they don’t like it in the end but whatever it is, we’re just glad you’re giving it a go as a family!
- How To Catch Waves on a Bodyboard for Beginners
- 8 Reasons To Get A Wetsuit for Bodyboarding
- 17 Bodyboarding Beach Hacks for Family Day Trips
- Bodyboarding or Surfing for Beginners?
- 8 Reasons Bodyboarding is Great for Families
We’re Andrew & Amy and we are a small blended family that love to bodyboard! We’re here to share everything we know to help you with your bodyboarding adventure as a beginner, with your family or if you’re transitioning onto intermediate level. Let’s go!