The idea of taking a baby to the beach seems awesome. You imagine them playing happily in the sand, shrieking with delight at the waves, gathering seashells and making sandcastles. Then you actually take a baby to the beach and you realize that this was a terrible idea. Babies manage to get sand EVERYWHERE, including in their mouths because of course they will try to eat it. They either leap madly into the waves, almost giving you a heart attack, or they wail in horror anytime you approach the water. They chew on the shells and knock over the sandcastles. You will put so much sun screen on them that they’ll be so slippery you can’t pick them up – and yet you’ll be bright red because you’ve had no time to put any on yourself.
Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?! I do, because this was me, and my first beach trip with my son. He was 9-months old, and I was so excited to take him to the beach for the first time. After the first day, I was sunburned and irritated and he had eaten half the beach. Thankfully, we’ve taken many beach trips since then (read here about our recent trip to Canaveral National Seashore) and we’ve finally figured things out! Read on to find out what you need to know to survive trip to the beach with a baby!
Surviving taking a baby to the beach
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When to go to the beach with a baby
If you’re bringing baby to the beach, the best times to go are going to be in the morning or the evening; basically, whenever the temperatures are cooler. Once the sun gets really hot, trying to keep baby in the shade and hydrated will be so difficult that the trip will stop being fun and just be stressful. I would recommend factor 50 sun screen for any baby over six months, as well as a sun hat and rash guard with long sleeves. Doctors generally don’t recommend using sun screen on babies under six months old, so they’ll need to be kept in the shade even more once it starts to get really hot. I find the best time to visit the beach is before 11am, taking a break in the afternoon, and then maybe heading back in the evening before dinner.
What to bring when taking a baby to the beach
Contrary to what I originally thought, you do not need to hit the beach with enough stuff for a week-long vacation. A large beach bag should hold everything that you need for you and baby to stay safe and have a great time.
To pack for your baby:
– A sun hat
– Baby sunglasses
– A rash guard with long sleeves
– Swim diapers
– A baby beach towel
– A basic first aid kit with band aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, and Tylenol
– Factor 50 sun screen (apply the first coat before you get to the beach, then repeat as needed)
– Baby powder; sprinkle it on the sand and it will brush right off
– A couple of small Ziploc bags to take home souvenirs from your trip, such as pretty shells or some sand
– A few small beach toys, such as a bucket and spade, a sand scoop, or a beach ball
– A small inflatable bath tub that can be blown up and filled with sea water; a make shift pool for your little one!
– Some form of sun shade, such as a beach umbrella or beach tent
– A beach blanket
– Snacks that won’t get all sandy; baby food pouches are absolutely perfect
– Plenty of water in a sippy cup that won’t get sand in it
Remember to pack a few changes of clothes for your little one, and some regular diapers and wipes to keep them clean. Consider bringing an empty grocery bag to bring some all of your wet clothes in.
What NOT to bring when taking a baby to the beach
I really wouldn’t recommend bringing a stroller to the beach, and this comes from experience! Even the world’s best jogging stroller will not like being pushed over sand; it is much easier to carry your little one, or bring a rolling wagon to carry them and their stuff.
Bring a few small beach toys, but do not bring every toy that you own. Chances are that your little one will find a bunch of other things to play with – shells, seaweed, jagged rocks – and most of the toys won’t even see any sand. In most of the pictures from that first beach trip, my baby is playing with my empty water bottle or one of my flip-flops.
If you bring a picnic lunch, think carefully about what to bring. Your little one will have sandy fingers, no matter how often you wipe them, so skip anything that they will have to hold. Baby food and yogurt pouches are ideal; look for ones that can be frozen so they will keep cold, and be nice and cool when it’s time to eat (they also double up as ice packs to keep other food cool!)
What to do once you arrive at the beach with a baby
Once you get to the beach, pick a spot and get comfy. Try not to sit too close to the water in case the tide comes in and you have to move out of the way, but don’t sit too far away where it’s a long trek to the water’s edge. Spread out your beach blanket, set up your tent and your inflatable pool, and let your little one crawl around; if you decide to being chairs, use them to sort of fence your little one in so they have a make shift play zone. Don’t worry too much about baby getting messy; they will get sand and sea water everywhere and yes, chances are that some will end up in their mouths. Try to relax and only clean up when necessary; chances are that they’re having a ball!
Click HERE or the image below for a free printable check list of what to pack when hitting the beach with a baby!