Summer is fast approaching, and if you live in a warmer area you may have already embarked on a trip to the beach. For all of you folks living in cooler areas, hang in there! Beach season is just around the corner. Don’t let babies deter your beach going plans. Taking the baby to the beach is easier than you might think, and there are several things that can help make your experience more enjoyable for the whole family.
1. How to choose a baby friendly sunscreen.
For babies older than 6 months you may use sunscreen, but stay away from spray-on lotions and powders, as well as those containing oxybenzone or vitamin A, which can be harmful to the baby. Try to find sunscreens using zinc or titanium for the best UVA/UVB protection without the use of such harmful chemicals. Check out Environmental Working Group’s 2014 Guide to Sunscreens to find a safe, quality sunscreen. I also recommend using a sunscreen stick for the face to avoid sunscreen in the eyes, as I have seen first-hand how unenjoyable of an experience this can be for any baby. If your baby rubs sunscreen into her eyes, wipe the eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
2. Invest in some quality shade.
EZ Up. If you regularly visit the beach you may want to spend the money investing in a quality EZ up (outdoor canopy) that can provide shade to an entire family. The EZ up is a tall 10 x 10 dome and people can either stand or sit underneath it. It also shades a large area, which gives everyone enough space to play, eat and hangout without having to scrunch in tight. If you decided to purchase an EZ up, plan to spend at least $100. If you find one that is intended for use in the grass, it will definitely work in the sand. I bought that type of EZ up and have had zero issues with it blowing or tipping on a windy day at the beach. The stakes or spikes worked just as well in the sand as in the grass.
Umbrella. If you have a small family or only one or two people require constant shade, investing in a good umbrella is a less expensive option compared to the EZ up. Consider purchasing a moderately priced umbrella rather than the cheapest one. We purchased a very similar version of this Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella and we really enjoyed it. This one is a bit tall, so keep that in mind if height is a factor for you. The beach is often windy, and a cheap umbrella with either blow away or invert with one gust of wind. You will also want to purchase a Corkscrew Umbrella Holder that will stabilize your umbrella in the sand, preventing it from blowing away.
Baby tent. One final option to consider is a baby tent, which would provide both shade and a napping area for your baby. One benefit of the tent is it also contains a ‘floor’ as part of the tent. The floor serves as a good surface for the baby to play or sleep without the baby laying on sand or seashells. The tent is the most compact option.
3. It’s all about the baby swim outfit.
Swim shirt. The more skin you can cover the better. Find a swim/sun shirt with a minimum of SPF 50.
Swim suit. Find a cute swimsuit for your baby and maybe even add a little style along the way.
Sun Hat. Shop for a good new or used hat that fits your baby well. If the hat flops around a lot the baby is more likely to try and pull it off. Also, look for one that includes an under the chin strap to discourage the baby from pulling it off. You can also ‘practice’ wearing the hat around the house to get the baby used to the hat.
Water shoes. Consider buying water shoes if your baby is mobile. The beach often contains sharp pieces of broken seashells that could really hurt a baby. Sometimes the sand is also a bit coarse for sensitive baby feet.
4. Swimming diapers (cloth or disposable)?
Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, there are swimming diapers designed for both. Most cloth diaper brands make a special diaper just for swimming. The same goes for most disposable diaper brands. Use a regular diaper at the beach with caution; the gel packs in disposables may explode after becoming completely saturated.
5. Tips for sand toys.
Sand toys offer great entertainment for babies, and distracts them from trying to put sand, seashells and sticks in their mouths. Bring a few sand toys that are appropriate size for the baby to enjoy. Regular sand toys can sometimes be slightly big for babies to play with as intended. Consider looking for some plastic blocks or smaller-sized sand toys that the baby can enjoy.
6. Draw String Mesh Bag.
Bring a draw string mesh bag to carry all the sand toys in one convenient place. The mesh bag minimizes sand collection that would occur with a regular bag also allows for quick clean up. Just spray down the mesh bag with toys inside after you are done at the beach. No need to take the toys out individually and rinse them off. Any remaining sand can be shaken off after the bag and toys dry outside.
7. Snag an outdoor blanket.
An outdoor blanket is a great ‘extra’ to purchase for frequent beach goers. Outdoor blankets are made of materials that do not absorb much moisture and do not collect sand. If you get a little sand on the blanket, shake it out, and all the sand will simply slide off.
8. Next, a blow-up baby pool.
This is an awesome way to contain your baby and allow them to play in the water. Another benefit to the pool is you can keep the pool under a shaded area. Using a very inexpensive blow-up pool can prevent you from chasing your baby up and down the beach, while also keeping your baby away from strong waves and salty water.
9. How to keep baby hydrated.
Bring adequate amounts of water, breastmilk, formula or milk to make sure your baby is adequately hydrated. Being out in the heat and sun, your baby will likely require extra liquids on any given beach day. Breastfeeding at the beach is tough because it’s so hot.
10. Bring the baby powder!
Last but not least, the magic trick of baby power. It the best friend of any baby at the beach. Baby powder takes the sand RIGHT OFF the skin. I promise – it is magical. Just rub it on the skin and all sand comes off easy peasy!
Don’t let a young baby deter you from heading to the beach. It can be a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole family with a few trusty tips and tricks.
What are your best ideas for how to take a baby to the beach? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Want more on motherhood and baby?
- How to find a baby sleep schedule that works.
- Traveling with Kids? 8 Ways to Save Your Sanity
- Awesome tips to help your baby sleep better during travel
What’s your best beach hack for moms with babies? Let’s chat in the comments!