Summer’s here, and it’s time to grab a swimsuit and towel and head to the beach! This summer was the first summer I went to the beach with a baby, and it was a blast!
We knew this year was going to be different, since we had our 1.5 year old with us (last time we had been to the beach, I was pregnant with him). But, we went with it, and with a little planning and foresight it ended up being great.
Going to the beach with a baby can be a bit tricky, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Today I’m sharing with you some tips for how to enjoy the beach with a baby in tow, even if it’s your first time with a little one in the sand. I’m also including a beach bag packing list to make things even simpler for you!
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Enjoying The Beach With A Baby
1. Come prepared
The first step to minimizing the stress of taking a small child to the beach with you is be prepared. Grab a sturdy beach bag to carry your things and keep everything as organized as possible.
Note: Don’t feel like you have to drag a ton of stuff with you just because you have a baby. Every day, we only carried our one beach bag, our two lightweight beach chairs, and a small basket of beach toys (and Elijah, of course!).
Our beach house was only about two blocks from the beach, so we walked to the beach and came back to the house for lunches and naps. If you aren’t staying within walking distance, consider parking close and leaving any non-essentials in the car.
Of course, you’ll need to bring or wear beach clothes for yourself and your child. I’ve always found it easier to wear our swimsuits on our commute to the beach, whether that involves driving or walking. Your situation may be different, so do whatever takes the least amount of work and minimizes stress factors.
Besides a swim diaper and swimsuit, I had Elijah wear a white shirt while on the beach. Babies and young toddlers burn very easily, so it’s important to do whatever you can to prevent sunburn. Having your little one wear a swim shirt will minimize the amount of skin exposed to the sun. And don’t forget a bucket hat to protect their little head!
We also bought Elijah some water shoes to wear on the beach. At first, he really didn’t like the feel of the sand on his feet, so having the water shoes helped him to relax and get used to the sand. They also prevented his feet from getting burned on the hot sand.
Be sure to put plenty of sunscreen on your little one. I found it easiest to do this before leaving our beach house, so that we didn’t have any sand to contend with while applying. This summer, we didn’t need to do any reapplying at the beach, since we were only there a few hours at a time.
But, we still took our baby safe sunscreen with us just in case we needed it. What kind of sunscreen you use is up to you, but we like to use natural baby sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50.
If you have a baby or toddler, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll need to bring some snacks along. Even though we were only at the beach a few hours at a time, Elijah always wanted a snack at some point or another.
I packed pretzel sticks and cheese crackers for Elijah. When you’re packing snacks for the beach, definitely consider taking snacks that won’t make a huge mess. Avoid things that will make your little one sticky or be messy to eat or clean up. And of course, don’t forget to take a sippy cup and extra water bottle for your little one.
If your baby is still breastfeeding, you’ll want to take along a breastfeeding cover (to protect you both from the sun, if nothing else). If you are nervous about breastfeeding on the beach, check out my post on breastfeeding in public for more tips. Or, if you formula feed, bring along enough bottles and formula to last the time you’re on the beach.
Unless your baby is still extremely young and doesn’t play with toys at all yet, you’ll want to bring along some toys for your child to play with. Personally, I like to get toys specifically for sand play. That way, it doesn’t matter if they get sand stuck in them or if they get broken or lost.
What kind of toys you bring along depends on your preference and what your baby likes to play with. But, for your reference, here are a few of our favorite toys to bring to the beach with us:
The golden rule for babies is to have diapering supplies with you pretty much all the time. The same goes for beach trips. You’ll want to bring some swim diapers and wipes, and possibly a few regular diapers if you aren’t going straight home after your beach day is over, or if you have a long commute home.
I put our diapers and wipes into a gallon sized ziploc bag to keep them from accidentally getting wet, or from getting sand in them.
And of course, a beach blanket is always a good idea, especially with a baby. Blankets provide a relatively non sandy area for your baby to hang out, and make great snack spots.
You may also find that your baby wants to stay on the blanket rather than playing in the sand. Poor Elijah wouldn’t leave our blanket at first until he finally got used to the idea of sand and began venturing out into it.
2. Arrange around nap time
If possible, try to arrange your beach trip around nap time. Now, this can go two ways—aiming for nap time, or avoiding nap time.
If your baby sleeps well in strange places, or still sleeps a lot, letting your baby take a nap(s) on the beach may work out well for you. On the other hand, if your baby does not sleep well in new places, or if your baby is older and doesn’t sleep as often anymore, you may find that making your beach trip between naps, before a nap, or after a nap works better for you.
The key here is to avoid putting your baby into a state of exhaustion while you’re trying to enjoy the beach.
3. Don’t obsess over the sand
A big key to enjoying the beach with a baby is to not get obsessed over the sand. This is the beach, after all! Even if you’re a super OCD person, the beach is not the place to stress out about sand getting on your blanket and beach stuff.
No, you don’t have to let your baby dump sand right into your beach bag. But don’t get obsessed over keeping everything perfect. Let loose for a bit and focus on letting your baby explore and enjoy the experience. Have fun with this unique time together.
4. Provide shade
While you may want to be in the sun your entire beach trip, this is not a great idea for your baby. At some point, your little one will likely need a shady spot to sit down and cool off. Maybe even take a nap!
Providing shade will also help to prevent your baby from overheating or getting sunburn.
There are several ways to go about this. You may choose to rent a beach umbrella (if the option is available), or bring your own umbrella. Alternatively, small beach tents can make a great place for babies and small kids to get out of the sun for bit.
5. Keep hydrated
One thing that will really crash your beach vacation is dehydration. Make sure you bring along a sippy cup or bottle for your baby, and offer liquids frequently.
And be sure to stay hydrated yourself! This is especially important if you are breastfeeding. Being in the hot sun will cause you to loose far more water than usual, so be sure to drink extra water to compensate for this.
6. Stay realistic
And of course, always stay realistic about your beach expectations. Going to the beach with a baby will be quite a different experience from going without kids. With a baby, someone will always need to be watching them to make sure they stay safe.
And sometimes, things just won’t go the way you planned. Maybe your little one just will not take a nap on the beach like you had planned. Or refuses to nap where you are staying, preventing you from getting back to the beach later in the day.
Things happen. With small kids, things don’t always work out the way you want them to. By all means, don’t be afraid to go out and do things with your kids, even if they are babies or toddlers. But keep things in perspective. Not everything will work out perfectly, and sometimes, it will be better that way.
Have you gone to the beach with your baby or toddler? Share with me your favorite experience—I’d love to hear about it!