My son has been on the river since he was a year and a half. a childs bike helmet will work fine and the white water warehouse has a child life vest that is very secure with a grab handle on the back. I put My son on a sit on top Kayak when he turned 4 dicks sporting goods has a very small child size one for about 200 bucks comes with paddle. flat water water till he was 5. he now can confidently navigate the Mad river and learning to eddy in and out. He is so into youtube that I suggested me look up learning to roll a kayak. he is now 6 about to turn 7 and is about 50 lbs he has a wersi helmet and stolquest vest and wants a Fun1 to roll.