My husband and I loved to travel before we had kids. As soon as we started dating, we were always planning trips, whether it were weekend getaways to check out a new brewery, exploring new cities together, or relaxing all inclusive Caribbean vacations, we were always jet setters! Typically, these trips revolved around lots of drinking, eating, staying out late and walking to see city sights. We always said that once we have kids we would still travel as much as possible and we didn’t want to give it up.
Needless to say, after having a baby, our trips have drastically changed. Now vacations are dictated by nap times, making sure to pack enough snacks and toys, and finding the closest playground. As much as I always hope that it will be a stress-free, relaxing trip, it doesn’t usually end up that way. Still, it’s enjoyable to get away every once in awhile and now to experience the joy and excitement through a child’s eyes make these trips that much better.
Since our first beach trip, I’ve learned a few things that will make life easier when you’re toting a baby to the ocean. Here are a few tips to maintain your sanity on a beach vacation with your little one.
Stay as close to the beach as possible, preferably an oceanview room with balcony
Depending on how old your baby is will dictate how long and when he/she needs naps and if they will easily nap on the beach or not. Not only does staying on the beach make it easier to lug all the equipment to your sunny spot on the beach, it allows you more freedom to bring your child inside for naps. Along with bringing the baby in for naps comes being stuck in a hotel room at 1pm on a sunny, summer afternoon which is never fun, unless you really just want to catch up on work or some reading. The suggestion for a balcony oceanfront room allows you to still enjoy the beautiful views and feel like you’re on vacation while not being in all the action.
Inflatable Pool & Bucket
If your baby is at least sitting up, they will thoroughly enjoy sitting in the water with some water toys. It will keep them cool, occupied, and best of all- out of the sand. You also want to bring a large bucket to be able to bring the ocean water to fill up the pool. The bucket will also double as a toy once they’re standing because babies love water play! Just through some toys in there and they’ll love splashing in the water.
Baby Powder or Corn Starch
This trick really works! We all know sand can be such a pain to get off. I still will find sand in my bags and on my living room floor days after we have gone to the beach. Baby powder and corn starch both work great to get wet sand off of baby and make it easier to clean them up. Wet sand is impossible to clean off so these items help dry out the area so it wipes clean easily.
Sand Toys in a Mesh Bag
To keep these babies occupied bring a few sand toys. There’s no need to splurge on expensive toys as the sand and water offer more than enough stimulation for them. All they need is a small bucket, shovel, and maybe a little watering can and they’re good to go! A mesh bag to store them in also allows the sand to sift out once you’re finished instead of allowing it to just sit in the bag making a mess.
Let them eat sand
Our first 5 or 6 beach trips, we tried to keep our daughter from even touching the sand, mostly because she was at the phase of putting everything in her mouth and we didn’t want her eating sand, but also because we just didn’t want to deal with a cranky, messy, and sandy baby. When we were away on our week long beach vacation, we just decided to embrace the disaster that is kids & sand and realized, how is she going to learn not to eat the sand if she doesn’t first eat the sand? It worked great because after a few handfuls in her mouth, without us slapping her hands away, she realized yuck- I guess this isn’t for eating. Sand is also such a great sensory experience for little ones for them to touch and feel different textures which feeds my soul as an OT.
Extra Swim Diapers and Dry Diapers
Even though you may think you just need one swim diaper for a beach session, it’s smart to put them in a regular dry diaper in between swimming so they’re not sitting in a soaked diaper for too long. I know from experience, this will cause a diaper rash sooner than you can even walk back to the hotel room! So if your baby is ready for a break from the pool to eat a quick snack, switch them into a dry diaper and have a spare swim diaper for a second round in the pool if needed.
If your baby is still on the younger side, you may be able to get them to nap on the beach. Make sure there is a cozy, shaded area for them to lay in. Something like this tent could help out a lot.
Lots of Sunscreen & Hats
This is a given. Make sure they’re protected from the sun. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure so it has time to let the ingredients soak into the skin and reapply every 2 hours.
Tent or Umbrella
I used to live for soaking up the suns and giving my skin as much UV rays as possible for that perfect golden tan. Now, I will only go to the beach if I have shade- and a lot of it! Bringing a lightweight pop up tent or umbrella will help give both you and baby shade because we wouldn’t want them out in the heat for too long.
Lots of Snacks
Obviously you want to adhere to their feeding and snack schedule, and pack extra in case they start to get extra cranky. You can never pack too many snacks!
Rolling Wagon or Beach Caddy
A lifesaver when going to the beach with all the aforementioned stuff! Unless you’re making 3 trips back and forth to the car, you will NEED one of these.
Leave the Diaper Bag at Home
Consolidate everything into a beach bag or you’ll just wind up bringing home tons of sand in your diaper bag and finding it in there weeks later.
These have come in handy so much for myself and baby! A quick little spritz and the nice breeze from the fan are a perfect way to cool off if you can’t make it into the water.
Enjoy your vacation with your little one and let me know if any of these tips helped you or if you have any new suggestions!