Tips for Taking your Baby to the Beach
Sun’s out, (baby) bums out! Going to the beach with your baby can be a whole lot of fun. While it might seem like a daunting undertaking at first, there are steps you can take to ensure a happy and stress-free beach day.
We get it. The idea of taking your baby to the beach can make you feel a lot of things: excited to see them experience sand and waves for the first time, worried about keeping them safe in the sun, and unsure of what and how much you’ll need to pack. It can be overwhelming!
That’s why planning ahead is CRUCIAL for a successful day at the beach with your baby. Lists will be your best friend. But don’t worry, we’re here to help with a few lists and tips of our own. They’ll make planning, packing, and traveling with baby a breeze!
First, let’s go over some things you should consider when planning your beach day.
Is Your Baby Old Enough?
A lot has changed since you’ve had your baby, but enjoying the beach doesn’t have to be one of them. You might be wondering: when can I bring my baby to the beach? Generally, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies have very little direct sun exposure before six months, mostly because they’re not able to safely wear sunscreen until that age.
However, with some preparation and the right sun shelter, you can take your baby to the beach even before then. The minimum recommendation is two months old, when their immune systems have had a chance to mature a bit and their bodies are better at regulating temperature.
You might also have a better time if you wait for when your baby is strong enough to hold their head up on their own, around three or four months.
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Choosing the Right Beach
So you’ve decided to tackle a trip to the beach with your baby. Good for you! The next step will be deciding which beach to go to. You’re going to want to find a baby-friendly beach.
What makes a beach baby-friendly?
Well, for starters, it should have parking that’s near the beach and a short walk away from where you plan to set up. Avoid beaches that have long hikes to the water or bumpy terrain (especially if you’ll be bringing a stroller or wagon with you).
Next up, make sure to check the weather and level of wave activity. Try to plan your trip on a mild day that has little to no wind and find a beach that has small waves or even shallow tide pools if you plan to let your baby splash around.
Look for beaches that have easily accessible bathrooms and showers too, which will be useful for outfit changes or cleaning up any accidents.
The Beach Baby Packing List
You have a destination and day in mind, so now it’s time to pack your bags and car. Consider getting this done the night before your trip. That way, you limit your chances of forgetting something when you may or may not be stressfully rushing out the door with a crying baby waiting in the car.
Of course, sun protection is so important for little ones and their extra sensitive skin. Babies six months and older will need sunscreen applied regularly throughout the day.
The best sunscreens are not only gentle enough for your baby’s sensitive skin, but also reef-friendly, especially if your little one will be taking a dip in the ocean.
We really love the ThinkSport Kids Sunscreen and the BabyBum Suncreen Face Stick that are both effective and ocean safe. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours and after water exposure!
Pack however many towels you think you’ll need…and then pack a few more. There’s nothing worse than trying to dry off a baby with a damp or sandy towel, so it’s a good idea to have plenty of clean ones on hand.
The importance of having a beach umbrella or tent cannot be stressed enough! In addition to creating shade to keep cool and protect against the sun’s harmful rays, a beach tent can provide privacy for diaper changes or nursing and a sand-free space for playing or nap time.
You can get a simple pop up tent like the ISILER Automatic. For more privacy and space, the Easthill Outdoors Instant Shader Deluxe is an even better option.
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Water and Snacks
You’ll want to pack plenty of water and snacks for your beach day with baby. Babies get overheated easily and one way to combat that is through proper hydration.
Remember: no water for babies under six months old. Instead, try to nurse often or offer extra formula to make sure they’re staying hydrated enough.
For older babies, squeezable pouches are nice to bring to the beach because they’re mess-free and disposable. Shredded cheese, pre-cut fruits and veggies, and cereal puffs are also good beach snacks and can be packed for easy access in bento boxes.
Protect your baby’s sensitive skin by packing a full body bathing suit with UV protection and a wide brimmed hat.
Depending on their age, you could also pack a pair of water shoes for your little one.
The FEETCITY Baby Water Sports Shoes are perfect for younger babies who are mostly crawling on the sand or blanket, while the nerteo Aquatic Shoes are better for older babies who might start venturing into the water.
And don’t forget – regular diapers just won’t cut it if your baby will be getting in the water. You’ll want to get some swim diapers, since they don’t absorb water and become uncomfortably full like regular ones do.
This one is a hit or miss, because your baby might be way more interested in playing with the sand and water than any toys you bring along.
Some popular toys that are awesome for practicing baby’s motor and hand eye coordination skills are the classic shovel and bucket.
For older babies, you could also bring sand castle molds or spinning wheels. They’ll have fun filling them up with sand and practice their pouring skills while at it.
Surviving The Road Trip
Deciding to go to the beach with your baby is one thing, but actually getting there is half the battle. Some of us are lucky enough to be a short drive away from the beach, but for those who aren’t, here are a few tips for a long road trip with baby.
- Try to plan around their naptime, especially if they’re able to sleep in the car seat. Best case scenario is they’ll sleep through the drive and wake up refreshed, happy, and ready to play at the beach! Always make sure to check on them periodically and aim to take them out to stretch their little bodies at least once every 2 hours.
- Babies love novelty. Grab a few new toys on your trip for them to play with. We’ve had a lot of success with colorful flashcards, a small white board with marker, and a few large Lego blocks. You know what’s even better than toys? Non-toys! You can grab an old TV remote (batteries removed of course) or a wallet with some used up gift cards for them to fiddle with. Trust us, they’ll love it!
- If you’re traveling on a hot day, you’ll want to be sure your baby stays cool in their car seat. The airflow to the back of the car, especially if they’re rear facing, isn’t always the most reliable. We recommend grabbing a portable fan that attaches to their car seat or headrest to keep baby nice and comfortable!
- Once you’re at the beach, try to snag the closest parking spot that you can. The less fuss it takes to get out of the car and to the beach, the less chance of a fussy baby.
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More Tips & Tricks
When it comes to creating a safe and comfortable environment for your baby on the beach, you have a few options.
Do you have an extra fitted sheet lying around in your linen closet? Bring it with you for this super easy and effective beach hack! What you’ll want to do is lay the fitted sheet flat on the sand and then prop the corners up with four heavy items (think beach chairs, cooler, beach bags, etc). It should look something like this:
Add a beach umbrella to create shade and the baby will stay cool and sand-free!
Alternatively, many parents love bringing a portable crib like the pack-n-play to the beach to keep their baby contained and provide a safe napping space if needed.
From parent to parent, we’re sharing some more of our favorite beach tips below.
- Keep your baby’s sunscreen in the cooler. It won’t be a melted mess when you need to reapply and will actually help keep your baby’s body temperature down.
- Leave the diaper bag at home and pack your baby’s things in a beach bag instead. Most beach bags are made from a mesh material like the Dejaroo bag, that’s lightweight and perfect for shaking the sand off at the end of the day.
- Another great way to store and transport baby’s items is in a regular plastic laundry basket. This works better for bigger items like towels, blankets, and clothes. It’s easy to pack and unpack and you can also shake sand off or even give it a quick rinse.
- Bring a spray bottle and fill it with cold water to spritz on your baby throughout the day whenever they get too warm. This is a great way to keep those younger babies who aren’t quite ready to get in the water yet cool.
- Baby powder is incredibly effective at getting stubborn sand off your baby’s skin. Just shake some on the sandy area and wipe away; the sand should come right off. For a more natural option, cornstarch works just as well!
- Did you know the strongest and most harmful rays of sun are from 10 AM – 4 PM ? Avoid these peak sun hours if you can and plan your trip earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to protect your baby’s delicate skin.
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Taking your baby to the beach can be a really special and rewarding experience, but it might take a little bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for your family.
We hope this guide helps you feel more confident as you head to the beach with your baby. You got this!
Have any more tips you’d like to add? Please share with us in the comment section below!
Frequently asked questions
Strollers can be tricky to navigate on the beach, especially in very fine sand. Unless you have a stroller with all-terrain wheels, like a jogging stroller, you most likely won’t be able to push it easily on the beach. You might end up either carrying or pulling it through the sand.
If you’re looking for something to transport your beach items and/or baby across the sand, consider bringing a wagon.
The Radio Flyer 3-in-1 Wagon is baby-friendly, has all terrain wheels that make pulling on sand easier, and includes a sunshade with UV protection!
The essential items your baby will need at the beach include:
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Swim diapers
- Source of shade (umbrella or beach tent)
You can see our complete list and other tips for a baby beach day here.
Regular diapers can be used at the beach if you don’t plan on letting your baby get wet. Regular diapers absorb water easily and can quickly become too full and therefore uncomfortable for your baby.
We recommend bringing swim diapers instead.
However, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have swim diapers, just be sure to change out the regular diapers as often as you can to avoid potential skin irritation or rashes. Pro tip: bring a beach tent to make diaper changes more comfortable and sand-free.
The AAP recommends limiting babies’ time spent outdoors if the temperature is greater than 90 degrees fahrenheit. This is because babies overheat much faster than adults due to their inability to sweat normally and keep themselves cool.
When your baby is overheated, they’ll usually develop heat rash. This typically appears as red pimples or blisters on your baby’s skin. If you see signs of heat rash, move your child to a cooler environment and use a damp washcloth or towel across their skin to clear it up.
Since babies have very sensitive skin, you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect them from the sun while at the beach.
Aside from applying sunscreen if they’re old enough (6 months+), there are a few other ways to protect their skin:
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat
- Dress them in a full-body swimsuit or wetsuit
- Have a reliable source of shade (umbrella or beach tent)
- Visit the beach outside of peak sun hours (before 10 AM or after 4 PM)