Our son was about 2.5 months old the first time we took him to the beach when we were visiting West Ocean City, Maryland. At that age, the first beach trip was more about trying to get at least one cute picture of him by the water (while simultaneously worrying about him getting too much sun) than anything else. We also quickly learned that sometimes it can take more time to get ready to go to the beach with a baby than the amount of time you’re actually there.
Beach vacations are a great way to ease into traveling with a baby, though, since it’s something relaxing for the whole family to enjoy. (At least as relaxing as vacation with a baby can be!) All that effort put into a beach trip is totally worth it when you see your little ones wrinkle their nose the first time they feel sand, or squeal with excitement when their toes splash in the waves, or suddenly become aware of all those cute little birdies around them.
Read below for the tips and products we swear by after multiple trips (and trial and error) to the beach with our little guy.
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Tip # 1: More coverage is better when it comes to baby beachwear.
This probably seems like common sense, but some people have a tendency to think babies will get hot versus covering them up to block the sun. My favorite products are those that are breathable but still limit their exposure to the sun. (This is especially important when they are under 6 months old, given that little to no sunscreen is recommended at that age.) Our favorite baby beachwear includes:
- A one piece swimsuit with UPF 50+ is a must for younger babies. Yes, one piece swimsuits can be a total pain for diaper changing, but they’re a huge help in preventing their stomachs and backs from being exposed to the sun. Once our son was about 12 months old we started easing up and doing more 2 piece swimsuits with bottoms and a top.
- These water shoes are a great purchase when your baby starts walking or pulling himself up.
- This hat that ties is the best for any outdoor activity with a baby. We love it so much that we bought it in two colors in the next size up. The best part is that it actually stays on our son’s head to protect him from the sun without having to attempt to put sunscreen on his head. (Because that doesnt sound fun for anyone.)
- I’m also a huge fan of baby sunglasses, which may just be because our little guy actually likes wearing them. These babiators with the sunglass strap in the back are great to help keep them on. (And it doesn’t hurt that they come with a 1 year warranty!)
Tip # 2: Use sunscreen specifically made for babies.
Full disclosure, I’m not one of those Moms that buys everything organic and carefully reads every ingredient. (Although sometimes I wish I was, and I was definitely more cognizant of this with a newborn.) Sunscreen is one of those things we don’t mess with though. We try to stick to mineral based sunscreen or at a minimum look for something without oxybenzone. My favorite sunscreens for babies are Babyganics or Goddess Garden. Keep in mind that sunscreen isn’t usually recommended before 6 months except in limited quantities, which is why it’s important to cover those kiddos up! Be sure to also wash any sunscreen off soon after sun exposure so it’s not on their sensitive skin longer than it needs to be. This article is super helpful for guidelines on sunscreen.
Tip # 3: Pop up beach tents are a necessity.
With my fair skin and need to stay away from the sun, I’m not sure why it took me having a baby to discover pop up tents. This beach tent is great for a number of reasons. It’s super light and takes seconds to set up and take down. Plus it’s big enough to provide adequate coverage from the sun and wind for a few people. Beach tents are also great for your little ones to take naps, and they’re easy enough to set up that you can really use on any outing.
If you do decide to bring a tent to the beach, be sure to check the local beach regulations first. On our recent trip to Myrtle Beach, we ran into an issue with using ours. Myrtle Beach laws prevent you from using a tent larger than 36 x 36 x 36″ and they can only be used for children under 18 months. It was the first time we cam across this, but it’s definitely something to be mindful of! After a quick google search, we found similar regulations in other beaches, including Rehoboth, DE.
Tip: Pop up tents can be a little tricky to put away, so try to test it out at home first. Speaking from experience, you don’t want to be stuck at the beach struggling to fold it while also holding a baby at the same time!
Tip # 4: Bring toys to keep your baby entertained at the beach.
Bringing entertainment pretty much goes with all forms of parenting and venturing out as your baby gets older. The beach is no different. While your little one probably isn’t going to be building sandcastles any time soon, our favorite toys for the beach are the traditional plastic sand toys. If you saw our post on baby and toddler travel toys, you also know that we bring these stacking cups with us everywhere. When you’re done at the beach, just rinse off the sand, throw them in the dishwasher, and you’re good to go! Beach toys are also something that can easily be bought at your destination or through Amazon Prime if you don’t want to drag the extra stuff. (Or, let’s be honest, you could probably bring a few plastic drinking cups and your baby would be perfectly content.)
Tip # 5: Pack a cooler with extra water.
In addition any bottles, drinks and food you may need for yourself and the baby, be sure to bring extra water in your beach cooler. Not only will your little ones need to stay hydrated (if they’re old enough to drink water) but the water also comes in handy for rinsing all that sand off. I’ve found this to be especially useful if there isn’t a shower facility available at the beach you’re visiting. If you’re not staying somewhere right next to the beach, be sure to also pack more than enough snacks and drinks in case you’re there longer than planned.
Tip #6: A large blanket, towel or mat is a must for any beach trip with a baby.
Like many families, we always brought a large blanket to the beach on any beach trip when I was growing up. A large blanket or mat is great for taking turns sitting together (or napping) so you can keep your towels for drying off. If your little one is starting to crawl or walk, this is especially helpful if you want to give them a clean space to roam or do tummy time. We love monkey mats in particular since they fold up into a small pouch and save a ton of space. This newer, quilted version is thicker, waterproof and washable, making it perfect for the beach.
Tip #7: Don’t forget the diaper bag essentials.
With all the stuff that comes along with taking a baby to the beach, it’s easy to forget the obvious. Swim diapers are a must if your baby is getting in or near the water. (Which at this age would probably be sitting with your baby by water’s edge or dipping his toes in.) Regular diapers can’t handle the water and expand to a huge, uncomfortable size. We love these disposable swim diapers or have also used these reusable swim diapers. Extra wipes are also great for wiping off that sand and cleaning hands before eating snacks. Pro Tip: Bring a few trash bags with as well. This will limit trips to the trash can so you can throw diapers and other trash away at once!
Tip #8: Be realistic about the beach experience.
I hate to break it to you, but if you’re someone who used to spend hours laying outside in the sun all day, it’s very unlikely you’re going to have that same experience with a baby in tow. There are times when we brought enough stuff to be prepared for hours at the beach and ended up barely making it an hour because our little guy just wasn’t feeling it. (This is when it’s great to stay somewhere on or near the beach for a quick exit!) It doesn’t mean they won’t have fun, but the reality is that some kids hate the sand or the water or the sun or all of the above. The great thing about babies is that they learn, grow and change every day. So one day they may hate the beach and the next day or the next year they may absolutely love it. Either way, it’s so worth it!
What items and tips help you prepare for a beach trip with a baby? Please share in the comments if you have anything to add!
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