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.
Tips and Essentials at the Beach with a Baby
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. Although this may involve carrying many items on and off the beach, it will make your experience more enjoyable.
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.
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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.
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This piece of baby gear is probably one of my most used gadgets, especially in the summer. The born free nisa playard can be used indoors and outdoors, but I love it particularly for outside play.
A playard with a canopy is perfect for the beach if you have active, crawling infants. This way they can stay put and you don’t have to worry about your baby getting onto the sand.
Baby Delight portable playard also folds up so conveniently and is portable enough to bring on and off the beach. It pops open in seconds with just a quick pull.
2 piece bathing suits with SPF/UPF
When buying bathing suits for your baby, remember that 2 pieces are the best way to go. When removing a wet swim suit for a quick diaper change, a 2 piece will make it a lot easier on you. Some of the one piece swim suits for boys have a snap closure on the bottom which also makes for quick changes.
Also, be sure that the bathing suits have a UPF index. This is similar to SPF that you are familiar with for sunscreens, but is a measure for the UV rays that can penetrate through a fabric.
Although you may be thinking that you don’t have to put sunscreen on your baby’s body because they’re wearing a swimsuit, it may not be giving them all the safe coverage that you think unless it has SPF. Here is an example of a bathing suit that 2 pieces and offers UV protection.
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A Bucket and a Watering Can
Sometimes there’s no need for fancy, expensive toys and a child will just be happy with simple everyday tools and objects. Providing them with a watering can and a bucket will give them lots of opportunity for imaginative play. They’ll have so much fun filling and dumping buckets.
Swim Diapers & regular diapers
These are necessary even if your baby is just playing close to the water, with a bucket of water or near a baby pool. As soon as you splash those regular diapers with water, they expand.
So if your baby dumps a bucket of water on himself, he’ll be drenched and uncomfortable. Buy a pack of disposable swim diapers to use during water play or try these washable and reusable swim diapers.
Also, don’t forget to bring regular diapers! You want to put them in a regular dry diaper in between swimming so they’re not sitting in a soaked diaper for too long. This will cause a diaper rash.
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 or ocean if needed.
Let them eat sand
Our first 5 or 6 beach trips, we tried to keep our daughter from even touching the sand. This was 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.
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.
A baby’s skin is much more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure to always practice safe sun protection.
- Put a wide brimmed hat on your baby
- Apply Safe Sunscreen (ThinkBaby) 30 minutes before exposure so it has time to let the ingredients soak into the skin and reapply every 2 hours.
- Avoid high noon hours when sun is strongest: 10am-2pm
- Keep all skin and body protected. Wear a rash guard, dress baby cool, and use muslin blankets
- Keep baby in shade or under an umbrella or canopy
Related Post: Are You Using the Safest Sunscreen For Your Baby?
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.
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Lots of Snacks
Finally a time and place when you can not get so upset about your baby being such a messy eater. Give your baby all the messy foods they want because you don’t really have to worry about cleaning it up!
Obviously you want to adhere to their feeding and snack schedule, but pack extra in case they start to get cranky. You can never pack too many snacks!
Watermelon, ice cream (if there’s an ice cream truck nearby), popsicles, and applesauce are all great foods that they can practice self-feeding without making a mess inside.
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 spray bottle fans 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.
You want to be able to keep your baby entertained on the beach and bubbles are a fantastic way to do just that. Blow bubbles around your baby and watch them swat at them and be in all their glory while watching the bubbles float around in the sky.
I love using the long bubble wands that make extra large bubbles that stick around longer.
Keep them hydrated
It’s so important to keep your baby hydrated on those hot summer days. Always make sure you have a sippy cup of water with them (over 6 months) or plenty of milk/formula. They can’t tell you when they’re thirsty or not feeling well so it’s up to you to keep feeding them liquid.
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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!