*see bottom of post for a list of products shown
Let’s talk about taking baby to the beach. Of course what you need to bring depends on how long you plan on staying, and the age of your kid(s), but there are general guidelines and things to keep in mind.
Some back story first – my husband (a surfer) LOVES the beach. There’s nowhere else he’d rather be. As for me, I LIKE the beach. But I’m super-fair skinned (basically just a big freckle) and that makes it hard to spend a whole day there unless I’m hiding under an umbrella. I’ve also noticed that the beach with babies/toddlers/kids is WAY different than the beach as a single chick with a cooler and some magazines or a good book. Not as easy to stay in the shade when chasing a toddler.
So anyway! Here are some tips for taking baby to the beach.
Babies younger than 6 months
Don’t think you have to rule out the beach just because your baby is an infant (or even a newborn). In fact, a baby that young may be content to spend some time napping or just looking around, giving you more time to relax.
Of course your doctor is your best resource on what’s safe for your baby but the following are just some general guidelines on things to bring and things to think about if you’re heading to the beach with a baby under six months old.
Most sunscreens aren’t meant for babies younger than six months so stay in the shade to protect baby’s sensitive skin. A beach umbrella can work for a shorter stay, but if you plan on being on the beach for awhile, a tent is great. Just remember that water and sand can reflect the sun’s rays.
Be conscious of temperature and make sure your baby is comfortable. If it’s a really hot day, it’s probably a bad idea to dress your baby in long sleeves and a cap. Sounds obvious, I know. Just remember to pay attention and use your judgment. If baby’s lips are turning blue and the poor little thing is shivering – too cold! If baby is super-flushed and sweating, too hot. In most cases you can probably keep baby at a comfortable temperature by staying in the shade and adding/removing layers as needed. As for a quick dip in the ocean, keep temperature in mind for that too. The ocean water isn’t inherently harmful (although the salt water can be drying), but be conscious of how cold the water may be for baby. Dipping baby’s feet for a quick photo op is one thing, but floating for an hour in a chilly ocean is another. Again, use your judgment.
Food & Drinks
Regardless of your intended feeding schedule, it’s always good to be prepared when you go anywhere with an infant, right? So if all you need is a breast then you’re set (hard to leave home without those), but if you formula-feed be sure you have everything you need – bottle, formula, water (+extra, spills seem to happen at the worst times!). You don’t want to be anywhere without a way to feed your hungry baby.
Blanket or big towel
Just something you can spread out and sit on with your baby, or even maybe lay your baby down for a nap.
Not essential but you may be more comfortable feeding your baby while sitting in a beach chair. Up to you!
Pack ‘n play
Again, not essential but can be nice to have if you plan on spending a good chunk of time on the beach. Many babies will hang out happily in a pack ‘n play with some toys while awake (especially at the beach because there’s a lot to look at and it’s a nice change of scenery for most babies), and it’s a good safe place to lie down for a nap. Works out especially well if you have older children at the beach in addition to a young infant, because you don’t have to watch your infant quite as closely when they’re protected in a pack ‘n play (versus laying on a towel or blanket while your older toddler runs around crazy at the beach).
Get some pictures of your little beach baby for the scrapbook!
Babies older than 6 months
A trip to the beach with an older baby or toddler brings similar concerns as a trip with a young infant, except that your pack list gets a little longer (and your relaxation time gets a little shorter). More mobile and active, more adventurous, probably needs more to stay entertained
Time to break out the sunblock! Check out the EWG 2013 sunblock guide to help you choose one for your baby. Also shade is still your friend. You baby may be mobile by this point so you probably won’t spend all your time in the shade, but it’s still good to have an umbrella or tent to retreat to for breaks like snack time or nap time. There are also many options available in swimwear and cover-ups with sun protection. And beach hats are good too of course! (That is, IF your baby will wear a beach hat – my daughter really didn’t cooperate with the hat thing.)
Still use judgment but now you should have more leeway, as older babies are better able to regulate body temperature. Of course you still want to avoid freezing and/or roasting your baby or toddler.
Food and drinks
Breast or bottle may not cut it anymore, you may also want some snacks or even a sippy cup as well, depending on your baby’s age.
Now that your baby’s older (and probably more mobile), bring some toys to play with to keep your little one entertained.
Summer’s almost here, it’s nearing prime time for family beach vacations. Know anybody heading to the beach with a baby or toddler? Share this post with them to give them a checklist of things to bring. Have you ventured to the beach with a baby or toddler in tow? What are your go-to items? Tell us in the comments!
* Here’s a list of specific products shown in the image at the top of the post:
- Ez-Up Regency 12×12′ Shelter, www.sportsmanguide.com
- Sun Smarties Kids Terry Cover-Up, www.onestepahead.com
- Lifefactory glass bottle with silicone sleeve, www.onestepahead.com
- Nursing cover, DIY version from Pretty Prudent shown, www.prettyprudent.com
- Tuffo Water-Resistant Indoor/Outdoor Blanket, www.bedbathbeyond.com
- Wearever Beach Chair, www.sears.com
- Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard, www.gracobaby.com
- Ricoh PX waterproof compact digital camera, www.digitalrev.com
- Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack & Everything Bag, Monkey Mania, www.itzyritzystore.com
- Zoe B Organic – Fantastic Anti-Plastic Beach Toys, www.greencupboards.com
- Dolphin Organics Naturals Sunscreen SPF 50, www.dolpinorganics.com
- Munchkin Snack Catcher snack cup, www.diapers.com
- Foogo Vacuum Insulated Soft Spout Sippy Cup, www.thermos.com