Tom Morey, the inventor of the bodyboard could likely never have fathomed that nearly every beach home has more bodyboards in their garage than bikes. The bodyboard is as necessary for a great beach day as a bucket and shovel, and any kid worth their salt should experience the joy of riding a wave on a bodyboard.
Which board to buy though? The age-old quandary is that most parents don't want to spend a bundle on a board that their kid is going to thrash or outgrow in one summer. So, here's a basic guide to finding the right board for a young rider.
First, there are two types of kid bodyboarders- the serious ones that are wearing swimfins on their feet while bodyboarding (the way the boards are designed to be used), and there are the kids that just want to wade out into waist-deep water and jump into the whitewater from the already-broken wave and ride straight into the beach.
(Kieran Reale jumping into small waves)
(Jaxon Cruickshank taking the more serious approach)
If the rider is the former, it's quite crucial to get the correct size board for them as it will enhance their ability to kick with the swimfins and use the fins to steer and control the board effectively. If the rider is the latter, a larger board can serve them well as a stable platform that will float easily and they will be able to more effectively arm paddle (since they aren't using fins).
See our Board Size Chart to figure out the best size for your child based on their height/weight. You can upsize a few inches if they are not wearing fins, but don't go too big or they won't be able to carry the board.
We understand that many adults want to buy a board big enough for the child to "grow into", but much like a bicycle, buying a board that is too large for the rider puts them at a major disadvantage in terms of controlling the board while on a wave.
For most beginners, an entry-level board should be adequate and they have the additional benefit of coming with a basic leash. However, don't expect them to last too long. If you want something a bit more durable, look for something with a polyethylene (PE) core and perhaps a stringer (a stiffening graphite rod inserted in the board). While those won't save you from heat damage (see below), they can handle a rider that is putting the board through it's paces.
If you have a serious rider, PE is great, but polypropylene (PP) is the lightest, stiffest option.
One important note is that all bodyboards, no matter how much you spend, are VERY temperature-sensitive. This means if you leave them laying in the sun or in a hot environment for even a few minutes, the foam begins to expand, which causes warping, bubbles and delamination which is NOT covered by warranty. So, if your kid is the type that will just chuck the board on the sand in the sun and leave it all day, beware that the board isn't going to last very long, so you might consider this when deciding how much you want to spend on the board.
Here's a recent BLOG POST on how to care for your board and a video link below.
We recommend picking up one of our eBodyboarding.com Kidsack Bags, specifically designed for small, kid-sized boards!
We've also got a large selection of swimfins and fin socks for kids, along with leashes, fin tethers and every other bodyboarding necessity to get them on the path to pro bodyboarding stardom.