Tips for Bringing Baby to the Beach
We all know that sometimes life with a baby is no day at the beach, but with some careful planning, it can be. If you thought your lazy days of lounging on the beach were finished now that you are a parent, don’t lose hope. With a few time-tested tricks, a seaside visit can be a fun day for the whole family. If you need to fly with your baby to reach the beach, just click on that link for tips on how to fly with a baby. In addition to the pleasure of fresh ocean air and hopefully some sunshine, the beach offers a wonderful array of sensory experiences for your baby. Your beach days may look a little different with a little one, but with these tips you can still have a blast while bringing baby to the beach.
1. Sun Safety
• Applying a baby-safe SPF of 30 or higher is a must for babies who are 6 months or older. Apply SPF generously before sun exposure, reapplying often, especially after a dip in the water. When applying sunscreen, don’t forget the extra vulnerable spots like the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.
• According to the Mayo Clinic, babies younger than 6 months should skip the sunscreen and use alternate forms of protection from the sun. Protective clothing with UPF 50+ is designed to block 98% of UVB and UVA rays and is your best bet to protect a younger baby’s delicate skin. From long sleeved bodysuits and separates to rompers and rash guards, sun blocking baby clothes come in a variety of styles and can be used in conjunction with SPF for older babies.
• Set a timer for SPF applications. Using a simple timer on your phone or watch can be a great tool for remembering to regularly reapply SPF.
2. Nap Time
• Don’t let a fun day at the beach throw baby off their nap schedule. A stimulating experience like a day at the shore can be exciting but also tiring for mini explorers. Make sure you have a safe, shaded spot for baby to rest.
• Use a large laundry basket lined with a blanket or towels as an impromptu bassinet while at the beach. As an added bonus, this basket can be used to carry your beach gear to and from the car and sand can be easily shaken out.
3. Made in the Shade
• A pop-up tent can be a parent’s best friend when bringing baby to the beach. The shade provided will help protect baby’s skin and is the perfect spot for naptime or anytime a break from the sun is needed.
• In addition to protective sun clothing and SPF, brimmed hats and sunglasses offer portable shade for keeping baby cool. Hats help protect little ears and necks, two areas particularly prone to sunburn.
4. Keep it Cool
• Keeping a cooler stocked with chilled snacks and water is just the first step for keeping things cool when bringing baby to the beach. Another great idea is tossing your sunscreen into the cooler. With each application, the chilled sunscreen will help to cool down baby’s skin.
• Stock your snack bag with frozen snacks such as pureed fruits and veggies. The sun will slowly melt these tasty treats to a slushy consistency that baby will enjoy after playing in the heat. Remember to bring plenty of water, juice or milk, which can also be chilled. You can even pre-freeze bottles of water to use as ice packs in your cooler, providing fresh, cold water as they melt. A hydrated baby is a healthy baby and dehydration can happen quickly when spending a day in the sun.
• Stash a few moistened washcloths in plastic bags inside your cooler for cleaning sticky fingers and cooling down overheated skin. Another skin cooling trick is to keep a filled spray bottle in the ice chest to give baby a chilled spritz when things get too hot.
• A small battery operated fan can be another useful tool for keeping things cool. Clip to your pop-up shade tent or baby’s bassinet when the ocean breeze is not enough.
5. Keep Baby Close
• The beach can be an almost irresistible place to wander and explore for cute little crawlers, keep them close and safe by creating an area just for them.
• It may sound counter intuitive, but bringing your own baby pool to the beach can be a great way to contain your mini explorer while keeping them cool. Add a small amount of water to an inflatable pool and position it under an umbrella or shade tent.
• For babies that aren’t quite as mobile, a simple bed sheet or picnic blanket can act as a play mat. Be sure to weigh down the corners with beach gear to prevent the wind from flipping up the edges.
• This next tip may sound strange, but it comes highly recommended by beach moms in the know. Dig a shallow ditch for baby to play in. It may sound crazy, but it makes perfect sense when you consider that the sand at the bottom of the hole will be cooler than the top, it creates an impromptu playpen and you can even add a sheet to keep things clean and soft for baby’s skin. Enlist the help of older kids to dig the hole using sand shovels. Make sure that your DIY playpen is not more than 8 -10 inches deep and that baby is never left unattended.
6. Bringing the Beach Gear
• Trips to and from the car while loaded down with all the necessities for a day at the beach can be a real drag, but it doesn’t have to be. With the help of a toy wagon or even a stroller, you can skip the dragging and roll your supplies to your spot in the sun. Wagons provide enough room to pile on the cooler, chairs and even an umbrella and can easily be wheeled across sand by towing them behind you rather than pushing them.
• An extra set of wheels is always a good thing. Consider bringing an ice chest that can be rolled as well. A cooler on wheels can be tugged behind you with one hand while holding baby safely in the other.
• Swap out the cloth diaper bag for easy to clean, reusable plastic bags. Instead of scraping sand out of the crevices of your favorite fashionable diaper bag, simply shake out your plastic grocery or beach bag. These convenient bags can even be rinsed off and left to dry.
7. Easy Entertaining
• With limitless sand, crashing waves, flying gulls and sparkling seashells, who needs toys? Keep things simple with just a few basic beach toys. A plastic shovel, a pail and maybe a few sand molds should be more than enough to keep things fun when bringing baby to the beach. If your little one has a few favorites that are easy to clean, like plastic cars or bath toys, these can be great beach time toys as well.
• Mesh laundry bags make excellent carrying cases for beach toys. Toss those sand shovels and buckets into one of these inexpensive beauties and when the day is done, simply give the bag a few shakes to allow any leftover sand to filter through the mesh. Toss the mesh bag in the laundry and it will be ready for your next beach adventure.
8. Learning Opportunities
• Spending the day by the sea can provide ample opportunity for sensory exploration. The texture of the sand, the shape of seashells, the ebb and flow of the foam-tipped tide, all of these things can provide a stimulating and educational experience for your baby. Little hands love to put things in their mouths, so do provide close supervision while your baby is exploring.
• A day at the beach can give you the opportunity to teach baby new words. Name everything you see around you and for older kids, try writing the new words out in the sand. A baby who babbles at the beach is a happy baby!
9. Timing is Everything
• New experiences can be overwhelming, especially for babies. Try keeping your first visit to the beach brief if necessary. Giving up expectations and remaining flexible can help keep stress at bay.
• Try visiting the beach early morning or late afternoon, not only will you avoid the sun’s harshest rays, the beach may even be less crowded.
10. Clean Up
• A surprising kitchen staple is one of the most effective ways to remove excess sand from baby’s fragile skin. Cornstarch is soft and silky and can be sprinkled onto sandy limbs to absorb moisture, allowing sand to be gently brushed off without scratching.
• Sometimes even shade and SPF doesn’t quite do the trick. If baby returns from the beach with a mild burn, try soothing the skin with aloe vera gel or adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar to a bath. Apple cider vinegar can help to minimize the itch that comes with sunburn.
Bringing baby to the beach can be a fun outing for the whole family.
With a little planning, a beach day just may be your baby’s new favorite activity. Try these tricks and tips to take the stress out of a seaside visit.