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Are you planning a beach vacation with baby but it’s your first time and need some tips on how to make it easy, safe and fun at the same time? Then you’ve come to the right place!
I absolutely love the beach and I have spent so much time on the sand with my two daughters I feel like I have mastered this “going to the beach with a baby” thing 🙂
The idea of going to the beach with a baby can get quite overwhelming: the sand everywhere, all the noise from other people, the wind, the heat from the sun, etc. And there are quite a few beach essentials for baby that you should consider bringing with you. But it’s not impossible and it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t have a great time with your kid(s).
While you can read about all the beach must-haves for baby here, this article focuses more on tips and hacks to make your stay at the beach extra comfortable and stress-free. These baby at the beach tips are manly aimed at saving you time, reducing the mess, avoiding dehydration, keeping baby entertained, and making your life easier in general.
At what Age can I take my Baby to the Beach?
Before I dive into all the tips, I’d like to cover a question that many parents have: “at what age can I take my baby to the beach?”.
According to Little Swimmers, there is not age limit. Whether you have an infant or a toddler, the beach is always a perfect destination for your littlest ones: from stocking up on vitamin D from the sunshine, to the fun in the sand and waves, or the soothing sound of the waves for a sleeping baby.
That said, babies’ skin is very sensitive, so you really need to be considerate of that and take extra precautions in the sun:
- Avoid taking very young babies to the beach during the hottest hours (11am to 3 pm)
- Always use sunscreen
- Make sure you have shading
According to Healthy Children, babies under 6 months should actually be kept away from direct sunlight as much as possible, as infants can’t regulate their body heat like grownups.
When we had our first summer vacation in Italy my first daughter was 4 months old. We made sure we had a big umbrella for shade where she could spend most of the time and have naps under it. When she was in the sun, whether on the sand or in the water, she always had sunscreen on.
The older your child gets, the longer you can stay at the beach with them and the more they will enjoy it!
Can I take my Baby in the Water at the Beach?
While babies can go into the water from birth, it’s best to wait to take your baby into a river, lake or the ocean until they are at least 2 months. This is because infants younger than that can get too cold very easily.
For younger babies, make sure that the water is warm and clean before taking them for a swim, and watch out for currents that prevent you from holding them properly.
You also don’t have to wait until your baby is immunized to take them swimming!
30 Baby at the Beach Tips & Hacks
With no further ado, here’s all the best tips for taking a baby to the beach!
1) Plan Ahead
When going to the beach with a baby, one of the most important things to do to have a wonderful experience is to plan ahead.
I have been to several beaches in different countries, with different landscapes and different services being offered. Plus I have experienced the beach with kids of different ages.
I can tell you with certainty that going to a beach where there’s grass and trees behind the sand dunes is different to a beach with absolutely no shade around. A private beach in Italy that rents sun beds and umbrellas is also different to an isolated beach in New Zealand with no one around. And going to the beach with an infant is definitely different than going to the beach with a toddler, and so is the beach gear that you need to take with.
Be very mindful about where you are going and research in advance what to expect. Will there be shade or not? Can you take the car to the beach or do you need to walk far to get to the sand? Is there a shower to rinse off the sand or salt? Or is there a bar that sells water and food so you don’t need to pack too many snacks and drinks?
All this information will help you prepare as best as you can for your beach adventure and it will help you understand better what you need to pack.
2) Use Spray Sunscreen
Ok, sunscreen is a given: definitely one of the must-haves for baby at the beach (and to add to your baby toiletries list) to protect them from the sun. However, I would totally recommend a spray sunscreen over a cream, particularly with a baby that’s already rolling and moving around everywhere.
I used to use a cream one with my first daughter and I got so frustrated with her grabbing the cream and squeezing it, or getting it out of my hand before I could put it on her. It was such a game for her, and I was over it 🙂
This Baby Bum Spray Sunscreen is perfect for babies: made only with natural ingredients that won’t harm your baby and a maximum 50 SPF protection.
3) Use Reusable Swim Diapers
Other than the fact that reusable swim diapers are better for the environment, they are also bloody cute and so easy to use. They’re like cloth diapers, but with the added bonus that there’s not all the washing and thinking about inserts and covers, etc.
The advantage over disposable swim diapers is that you can keep reusing them, so you don’t need to carry extra disposable swim diapers and change them every time they get in the water. Just take at least 3 reusable swim diapers with you for changes, and put them under the sun to dry (they dry super quick!).
Note that swim diapers (disposables or reusables) are not really designed to hold pee in: they just hold the poo in for long enough to give you the time to take the baby out of the water and avoid a mess in the swimming pool or the sea. So, if your baby poos in the water, take them out straight away and change their diaper before getting back in.
Also, no swim diaper is designed to hold in runny poos or newborn poos (that are very liquid, particularly if breastfeeding)! So, my suggestion is to leave a regular diaper on your newborn unless they are getting in the water. Once they are old enough to sit on their own and play in the sand and water, then you can put a swim diaper on them the whole time. Just be mindful that if they are sitting on a towel and have a pee, the pee will soak through the towel!
We personally used the Bambino Mio reusable swim diapers and absolutely loved them. However, there’s many other good brands that you can choose from.
4) Choose the Right Swimsuit
No baby swimsuit is the same, and while it might be tempting to buy one of those super cute swimsuits for girls, they are highly unpractical.
Remember that you still need to put them over a diaper, and you need to change that diaper throughout the day. So, if going for a one piece swimsuit, opt for one with a zip or with buttons at the bottom so that you can take it off and put it on easily when you need to change them. And take at least 2 changes with you.
5) Bring an Inflatable Pool
An inflatable pool is one of the best baby gear to have for the beach, particularly if spending lots of time at the beach during the hottest hours or if the water is a bit too rough or cold.
You can keep the pool under the sun for a little bit so that the water warms up, then move it under the shade for your baby to play in. They’ll love splashing around in such a calm and safe environment. In fact little ones often don’t enjoy the ocean when the water is too cold or if there are too many waves.
It also comes in very handy when wanting to go home to wash them off the sand, before putting clothes back on.
6) Use a Bedsheet
This has got to be one of the best baby beach tips I have ever come across to. Lay a fitted sheet on the sand and use 4 bags to keep the corners up: you will create the perfect sand-free area for your baby to play in!
This can be particularly perfect when you have a baby that is still sitting or crawling, and wants to put anything in their mouth.
7) Wear Baby Beach Shoes
Even if you don’t go on rocks, the sand during the hottest times of the day can be extremely hot, particularly for baby’s feet. So, consider getting some baby water shoes if you have a toddler that’s already walking around, either assisted or independently.
8) Use a Sun Hat with Strings / Neck Protection
Because it’s very important to protect your baby’s head from the sun, a hat is also a must. A sun hat with strings to tie a knot by the neck can be very handy if it’s windy or if you baby keeps wanting to take it off (yes, that was me with both my daughters!). Or, another option to give extra protection is to buy a sun hat with a back cover for the neck.
Lots of moms opt for the sun hat with a longer neck protection, and we were gifted one at some point. But, to be honest, we never used it because we didn’t like the look of it.
9) Buy Baby Sunglasses
If you are really worried about your child’s eyes being exposed to too much sun, then these baby sunglasses should make your list of baby beach essentials. They feature a super handy rubber adjustable strap that is easy to put on and stay in place for hours.
This is because babies (and toddlers) often hate normal glasses and constantly want to take them off. With my daughters, for example, we could not get them to wear normal sunglasses until they were almost 3.
10) Bring lots of Fluids
Rule number one when at the beach, particularly if pregnant or with a baby, is to to avoid dehydration, so remember to bring lots of fluids. Particularly if you are breastfeeding, it’s quite important to keep the fluids up to avoid a sudden drop in milk supply.
If you do notice that your milk production is declining, possibly due to dehydration, check out these drinks that will help boost your supply back up. And, if baby is drinking formula, remember the water for the bottles!
11) Use a Portable Baby Bottle Warmer if Formula Feeding
If you are bottle feeding and you like to give your baby warm formula, consider taking a Portable Baby Bottle Warmer to keep your water from home warm.
12) Buy a Portable Fan
Here’s an awesome tip on how to keep baby cool at the beach: use a portable fan! These are usually pretty cheap and will be perfect to use when baby is having a nap and the temperature is very hot.
Make sure to buy one with a clip, so that you can clip it to a bag or an umbrella to stay in the right position.
13) Get a Floatie
Having a floatie is another great tip when going to the beach with a baby, as it will make them feel safe above water and will allow them to enjoy time in the sea while the parent can have some free hands for a while (don’t let them float away too far from you though 🙂 )
14) Take Turns
Remember that time at the beach and being on vacation is also meant to be a relaxing time for parents, so take turns if you can. Have the other parent look after the baby while you have fun on a paddle board or go for a walk, and then swap after a while.
When it was my turn to relax, I used to enjoy lying on a sun bed and just close my eyes, sunbathe or read a book for a while – bliss!
15) Don’t Over-Pack
Don’t just take anything to the beach because you think you might need it without researching first what you can rent or use at destination. This partially ties in with my first tip to plan ahead: really find out first if there’s anything that you can leave at home so that you pack as little as you can (which will still be a lot with a baby!).
If you are going to a resort or to a private beach, for example, you won’t need any umbrellas and possibly chairs. A resort might even have baby beach toys that you can use, as well as beach towels or other essentials.
If you are going somewhere with a plane and have limited luggage capacity, even consider buying some of the cheapest things at destination. Baby beach toys and the inflatable pool are particularly bulky and are usually pretty cheap: you could buy them there and then donate them before you leave.
16) Use Cornstarch / Baby Powder to get rid of the Sand
It works by drying the skin, so the sand comes off easily and painlessly.
17) Get a Pop Up Tent
If you have a newborn, or a little baby that’s just started to learn how to sit, absolutely consider getting a pop up baby beach tent. This will allow your little one to move within a safe environment, protected by insects and the sun, and unable to put a whole lot of sand and stuff in his mouth!
It’s also a perfect portable travel crib for your child to sleep in 🙂
18) Freeze Water Bottles
A genius tip if you like to drink cold water is to freeze some bottles the night before and take them out of the freezer in the morning. By the time you get to the beach they would have started to defrost and you or your baby can enjoy some chilled water 🙂
19) Freeze Coffee
If you also like cold coffee (and I am guessing with the little sleep you are getting with a newborn, you probably need coffee!), then also try freezing coffee!
I got this tip from my mom: prepare the coffee the day before and add some sugar, freeze it over night and take it out in the morning. By the time you are at the beach, the coffee will be semi-liquid: give it a good shake and you will end up with an awesome cold frothy coffee!
20) Get a Mesh Bag for the Beach Toys
A mesh bag can come in extremely handy for all your sandy toys: put the toys in and give it a shake to get rid of the sand. The mesh also allows the toys to dry much faster.
21) Bring Extra Towels
When you have a baby at the beach, always bring extra towels. Whether it’s because your child peed on one, or because you need to put one on the car seat so that salt and sand don’t go all over it, or because you need one to lie them down on the sand to change their diaper … extra towels always come in handy.
We usually go to the beach with at least two towels per child. Sometimes we also have an extra spare in the car!
22) Use a Spray Bottle
A tip on how to keep baby cool at the beach is also to use a spray water bottle: spray some on your baby (or yourself) when it gets too hot, or use it to clean yours or your baby’s feet from all the sand before getting in the car.
The spray bottle was particularly useful for us when we were in Italy, as the Mediterranean sea is way saltier than the ocean, so we could wash off the salt after a swim. Definitely one to remember if you are planning a trip to one of the Mediterranean countries.
23) Have Fun Digging Holes
Having fun should be one of the top rules for being at the beach with a baby, and I never imagined a baby or a toddler could have so much fun digging holes in the sand and then sitting in them. So get a couple of spades and get digging, your baby will love it!
24) Get a Folding Wagon
If you need to walk to the beach, it’s going to be a lot of stuff to carry when you have a baby! One of the best tips for this is to buy a folding wagon: you can throw everything in there and it’s going to be so much easier than carrying everything on your shoulders.
I must have resisted my wife telling me that we needed to buy one for months, and only later realized how stupid that was of me.
Note that you might be tempted to put your baby sitting inside it (guilty me!), but the wagon is not designed to transport children.
25) Have a Sheet in the Boot of the Car
If you are a little bit OCD with the car and can’t stand the idea of having too much sand from the beach toys and baby in the car, keep a sheet in the boot and put it down before loading the car with all the sandy stuff. Once you’ve unloaded the car, just shake it off and enjoy your still (semi) clean car 🙂
We have been using this hack quite a lot since we’ve had the kids. No matter how much we try and dust off the sand from ourselves and the girls, or from the toys, we always end up with quite a lot of sand in the boot! And the main reason for that is that when you have kids you are almost always doing everything in a rush, including leaving the beach, and everything just gets chucked in there without much consideration.
26) Think about Baby Sleep
Making sure that you baby is getting enough sleep is quite important, particularly while they are young and still napping a lot during the day. So, take that into consideration when planning on going to the beach with a baby.
Popular beaches are often very noisy and, while an infant will sleep through anything, an older baby (usually from 4 months old) becomes way more aware and may struggle to fall asleep when there’s too much going on around them.
Maybe try and plan on going to the beach in between sleeps as much as you can, so that your child can have a good rest at home. And, if that’s the case for you, there’s lots of portable baby monitors that you can take on vacation with you to check on baby while they sleep.
– 6 Sleep Training Methods that ACTUALLY work (and that don’t involve Cry It Out!)
– 10 Best Baby Sleeping Bags for Summer (0.5 & 1 TOG)
– 4 Month Sleep Regression (why it is the most important one to get right!)
27) Find a Quiet Spot to Put Baby to Sleep
If you are keen on spending a lot of time to the beach and having your child sleep there too, then see if your child can fall asleep easily by themselves first. If they struggle with all the noise, try find a quiet spot to put baby to sleep in.
I used to take my daughter for a walk on the stroller in the trees behind the dunes when she was little in Italy, until she fell asleep. Once asleep, I would roll her back under the umbrella and she was then happy there for a good couple of hours after lunch time.
Also consider taking anything that you are using for sleep training at home to the beach, such as a white noise machine or a sleeping bag. If you are using a summer sleeping bag, make sure that it’s breathable enough for the beach!
28) Consider Taking a Stroller
Depending on which beach you are going to and how old your baby is (or how they like to sleep), consider taking a stroller with you. We found it very handy to have one with us in Italy, as we had to walk a bit to get to our spot. Plus, it was perfect for our daughter to sleep in.
Goes without saying that if you’d like your baby to sleep in it, it’s best to have one of those strollers that go down flat at the back.
You can have the stroller in addition or instead of the folding wagon.
29) Don’t Forget the Snacks
If you have a baby or toddler that’s already eating solids, don’t forget the snacks! Kids are constantly hungry, particularly when having so much fun in the sand and under the sun.
Pack lots of snacks with you, particularly refreshing snacks that will help with fluids intake. Summer offers so many refreshing fruits and veggies that kids love, such as watermelon, grapes, melon or cucumber.
30) Don’t Stress
Last but not least, my final tip for when you are at the beach with a baby is not to stress! Try and relax as much as you can and have fun with your kid, letting go of the little things that don’t matter too much.
Don’t panic if your baby puts some sand in their mouth (I gave up trying to stop them a long time ago!) or if they throw some snacks in the sand, if the wind keeps blowing sand on the mat where your baby is crawling and that you are trying to keep clean, or if they pee on a clean towel. Take a deep breath and remember that you can all have a nice shower and throw the dirty towels in the wash when you get home.
The sandy poo might be a bit unpleasant to clean the next day, but you can deal with that with a smile too, remembering the smile of your baby as they were eating the sand 🙂
Also remember to be flexible and not too rigid with regards to how much time you are going to spend at the beach. Depending on your baby’s mood or if they are tired, it might be a very short visit some days, and that’s okay. I promise it gets easier as they get older.
Baby at the Beach Tips: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, taking an infant or an older baby to the beach can be challenging and requires lots of thought and preparation. But with the above tips and hacks, I guarantee that planning and enjoying your next family beach vacation is going to be as fun and stress-free as possible.
And whatever you decide to do, remember the important rules of: keeping your baby in the shade to avoid overheating, giving them enough liquids to prevent dehydration and creating lots of wonderful memories with your child.
If you are in need of a more detailed list of all the essential gear that you need when going to the beach with a baby, also check out this post:
Are you a mom that’s about to go to the beach with their baby for the first time and have some questions? Or have you already been to the beach with your child and have some suggestions and recommendations on other tips that you think should be added to this list? If so, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you!
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