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The sun is shining and summer is here: are you ready for your first trips to the beach with your new baby??
I absolutely love the beach – I have always been a water baby – and I have spent so much time with my two daughters on the sand, even when they were very little. We actually skipped two winters in a row here in New Zealand and head over to my family in Italy for summer when my first daughter was born.
It’s been different experiences: in Italy we would spend the whole day at the beach (from about 10am to 3pm), whereas in New Zealand we live by the ocean and there’s no facilities at the beach like in Italy, so we would spend 1-2 hours here and there throughout the day.
Both experiences made us beach-parents pro 🙂 I feel like we’ve really mastered this “going to the beach with kids things”. And I am happy to share with you my list of baby beach essentials for your family summer trips to the oceans!
At what Age can I take my Baby to the Beach?
A question that many parents have is “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!
25+ Baby Beach Essentials
So, what to pack for the beach with a baby? Here’s a list of beach necessities for babies to survive your first trips to the water.
Some are these are more infant beach essentials, geared at newborns, whereas others are for older babies and toddlers. But, no matter the age, I got you covered: there’s all the beach must-haves for babies in here!
First and foremost, plan ahead and make sure there’s enough shade for your baby wherever you are going. This is actually one of the best tips when going to the beach with a baby!
When in Italy, we spent all of the time at a beach resort (most beaches in Italy are private), where we had sun beds and a big umbrella. Whereas in New Zealand we always make sure we go somewhere with trees or we bring our own tent. Umbrellas are a bit hard to use in New Zealand as it’s almost always too windy!
If you are considering a tent, I highly recommend you get a pop up tent. It would take too much time to set up the tent with poles and everything – and you don’t want to deal with that when you have a little baby crying or crawling around!
We bought one very similar to this beach pop-up tent: it’s for 3-4 people, with UPF 50+ protection and with pockets on the inside.
Also consider that many beaches have umbrellas and chairs or sun beds that can be rented for the day. If you don’t have the space or if you are travelling away from home and can’t bring any shade with you, check that out first, you might be in luck.
Sunscreen is also definitely one of the beach must-haves for babies to protect them from the harsh sun on their skin. You should actually already have it amongst your baby’s toiletries for any other time you take your baby out in the sun.
On kids younger than 6 months, it’s often advised to use it sparingly if not at all, and keep baby in the shade instead. However, we’ve found it to be too hard! You are at the beach and it’s hot – you want to have a swim with your baby and spend some time under the sun as well.
For kids over 6 months it’s a must though. Do it before going out, so that it doesn’t become a mission and you don’t get all your hands sticky at the beach. I also recommend using a spray one as it’s much easier when you have kids constantly moving around.
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) Rash Top / Swimsuit
Other than sunscreen, another great way to protect your child’s skin from the sun is to use a rash top or swimsuit that has SPF protection. We’ve used both tops and one piece swimsuits for our daughters, particularly in New Zealand where the sun is harsher and the water is colder.
Just do not fall into the trap of buying those super cute girl’s swimsuits that do not have a zip or open at the bottom. Remember that you are still dealing with a baby that needs diaper changes – think practical first!
Even if you buy a one piece swimsuit, buy 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.
Here’s some baby beach clothes item ideas.
Talking about essential baby gear for the beach, lots of towels are a must. Don’t limit yourself to one per child: I would take some extras in case of an accident (I had a few pees on them!) or for the car to keep as much sand as possible out of it.
I don’t find the baby’s towels with just the hoodie to be that practical (unless baby is very small): I prefer the baby towels with the hole in the head. They are extremely handy to quickly wrap your baby in and keep your child dry and warm for when they get out of the water. Bonus: they can also be super cute!
A sun hat is also a must amongst the best beach gear for baby: this is actually one of the most important baby beach items not to ever forget at home.
For youngest babies in particular, consider buying one with a string, so that baby doesn’t lose it all the time. Or buy one that’s stretchy and made of synthetic materials, so that it adheres to baby’s head nicely and won’t fly away with the wind.
There’s also options of baby sun hats with a long back cover for the neck. We were gifted one but, to be honest, we never used it because we didn’t like the look of it.
If you can get your baby to wear sunglasses, these are also very good at protecting your baby’s eyes from sun rays, reduce glare and prevent eye strain.
We personally could not get our daughters to wear sunglasses when very young: they absolutely hated them. My oldest only started wearing them when she was 2.5 years old. But, that said, we were also happy enough with just a hat.
However, if you are worried about your baby’s eyes and consider this to be an essential item for the beach, then these sunglasses for babies could be perfect for you. They feature a super handy rubber adjustable strap that is easy to put on and stay in place for hours.
7) Swim Diapers
When going to the beach with a baby, you’ll need diapers obviously. But have you considered reusable swim diapers instead of disposable ones? They do a perfect job at holding solid waste in, plus they are super cute.
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!
Make sure to take at least 2-3 swim diapers if you are using reusable ones, so that you have enough changes whether your child has a number two or you just want to put a dry diaper on. Reusable swim diapers dry pretty quick in the sun, so you can wash the pee off in the sea and let them dry for a while before you can put them back on.
8) Baby Water Shoes
If you have an early walker that already likes to explore his surrounding on his feet, then really consider buying some baby water shoes. Even if you are on sand and not rocks, it’s amazing how hot the sand can get during the hottest hours of the day!
We made this mistake with my oldest daughter when she was just over a year at the beach in Italy: the sand burnt her feet quite a few time.
The great thing about water shoes is that you can also use them as non-slip “socks” at home, particularly if you have a kid that likes to take their socks off all the time: water shoes are very difficult for kids to take off.
9) Wet Bag
A wet bag is another one of those beach accessories for babies (and adults) that you definitely don’t want to miss. Being at the beach with a baby gets extra messy and you’ll probably end up with so many wet and sandy swimsuits and /or clothes: so having a wet bag were to stuff these in is going to come in extra handy.
If you already have some for cloth diapers, these can be perfect for the beach too: they have the extra advantage of having a zip to close them off. Or any other waterproof bag will do. We use a big waterproof bag that we got from one from the supermarkets in Italy: it’s nice and spacious so we can even fit all the wet and dirty toys in as well.
The main thing is that it needs to be water resistant and you can easily rinse it off to get rid of all the sand.
If you are planning quite a bit of time in the water and don’t feel like holding baby the whole time, a floatie is a perfect idea. Plus babies usually love them!
11) Inflatable Baby Pool
Another must-have, particularly if spending lots of time at the beach during the hottest hours or if the water is a bit too cold, is an inflatable baby pool. One might think that it doesn’t make sense to take a baby pool to the beach, but it’s actually such a great item to have for your little baby to play in.
In Italy we used to have a little inflatable baby pool with the shape of a boat and would keep it under the umbrella, so that my daughter could enjoy some water under the shade. It was also great if the sea was too chilly or if it was too windy for her, as the water in the pool under the sun would warm up in no time. And, last but not least, it was perfect to bath her from all the sand before heading back home.
12) Water Bottles / Baby Bottles
To prevent dehydration, remember to bring lots of water, for you and for baby! Particularly if you are breastfeeding, it’s quite important to keep the fluids up to avoid a sudden drop in milk supply.
If baby is drinking formula, remember the water for the bottles and, if you like to give your baby warm formula, consider taking a Portable Baby Bottle Warmer to keep your water from home warm.
Another tip is to also freeze your bottles of water the day before at home, so that you can enjoy cold water by the time you get to the beach.
Amongst all your baby beach stuff, I would consider carefully whether to take a stroller or not. If the beach is easily accessible by car and doesn’t require lots of walking, then it might be a better idea to ditch the stroller. But if there’s a bit of walking involved, a stroller can be a massive help in carrying all the stuff plus baby.
We used it in Italy, as we had to walk a few minutes from the car to our umbrella. Plus we found it perfect for our daughter to have her afternoon sleeps in it. If you lie your baby on a towel / blanket on the sand, it’s very likely he’s going to get sand on him, whereas on the stroller he’s going to be nice and comfortable. And you can go for a little walk if he’s struggling to fall asleep.
Obviously it needs to be a reclining stroller if you want to have your baby sleeping in it.
If you have space, also take a blanket with you. These are usually larger than towels and give you a bit of sand-free space where you can change or feed your baby, or where he can have his nap.
We have a huge blanket that we got from Italy and we take it everywhere with us. Sometime it’s on the sand, sometimes on the grass, sometimes it becomes a wind or sun shelter: it’s become multipurpose!
You can also consider a waterproof and sandproof beach blanket: these are quite handy as they are water resistant and they prevent the sand from sticking to it. You just shake it off a bit and all the sand comes off. They can also be used as a rain shelter or as an emergency mat/pad while travelling.
15) Beach Toys
What sort of trip to the beach would it be if you don’t take some beach toys for the kids?! Unless you have a newborn that can’t hold objects on his own yet, definitely pack some beach toys.
These don’t have to be expensive and definitely don’t have to be many. But it’s amazing how a bucket, a spade, a watering can and a few molds can really entertain your child for a long time.
16) Mesh Bag
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.
Lots of beach toys already come with a mesh bag, but if you can’t be bothered to buy one, you can still pack the toys away with the wet clothes in the waterproof bag.
17) Portable Fan
I think using a portable fan is one of the best tips on how to keep baby cool at the beach. We used to have one in Italy, where it can get very hot in the middle of summer, and we would put it on the stroller to keep my baby cool when she was sleeping.
Best if you buy one with a clip, so you can clip it on the stroller or anywhere else that makes sense to you. There’s not many places at the beach where you can have a portable fan standing on a flat surface.
18) Collapsible Wagon
I must have resisted my wife telling me that we needed to buy a folding wagon for months, and later realized how stupid that was of me. If you have to walk to your destination beach, a folding wagon can be a massive help. It can be instead of or in addition to the stroller.
It just makes it so much easier instead of carrying everything on your shoulder!
Note that you might be tempted to put your baby sitting inside it (guilty me!), but the wagon is not designed to transport children.
19) Cooler Bag
Also don’t forget a cooler bag to avoid any food or drinks from getting too hot. Kids love to constantly graze on snacks and will need lot of liquids at the beach, so I am sure you’ll fill it up in no time.
Get one of the right size depending on what you are planning on doing. If you are going to spend the whole day at the beach, including having lunch there, you might want to consider quite a spacious one. If you are going for just a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon, a small one might be enough.
As mentioned above, older babies eat so many snacks throughout the day, so pack as many as you can. Try and pack lots of refreshing snacks too, not just chips or biscuits.
Summer offers so many refreshing fruits and veggies that kids love, such as watermelon, grapes, melon or cucumber.
21) Spray Bottle
This is such a great hack to keep your baby cool and wash off the sand and salt! I love always having a little spray bottle with me when we go to the beach: I can spray some on myself or the kids if it gets too hot, or I can use it to clean ourselves (feet in particular) before we get into the car. I also enjoy a few sprays on my hair as it dries out.
The spray bottle was particularly useful 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.
22) Baby Powder / Cornstarch
It works by drying the skin, so the sand comes off easily and painlessly.
23) Baby Chair
A baby beach chair is also a great idea if your baby is a little bit older and starting to move around (crawling or walking). My daughters loved having their own little chair and they would sit on it when having their snacks.
Much better then having them climbing all over yours because they also want to sit on your chair!
If you want something with a little table for baby to eat on, consider a portable booster seat instead – so handy!
24) Popup 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 🙂
25) Change of Clothes
Don’t forget a couple of changes of clothes (not just swimsuits!). All you need is for a bit of chilly wind to pick up for your child to get cold in his wet swimsuit, or maybe they had a baby diaper blowout, or they managed to get all their clothes full of sand and you want to change them before getting back in the car.
I usually pack two set of extra outfits to take with me, wherever I go.
26) White Noise Machine
Did you know that a white noise machine is perfect for helping your little one have a good night sleep? It creates a comfortable environment that calms the baby, helping them to fall asleep faster. And it’s also great at covering up surrounding noise.
If you use a white noise machine at home, also definitely take it with you to the beach! Your baby will associate the noise to sleep time and fall asleep easier, plus it will help covering up all the loud noises from other people and children on the beach.
I used to use the Hushh Portable White Noise Machine, which is awesome. It has a clip to hang it anywhere and I used to take it with me in the car or in the stroller.
27) Camping Chair
Don’t forget camping chairs for the parents as well, particularly if you are still feeding (breastfeeding or bottle feeding). The last thing you want is have to feed your baby while trying to sit comfortably on the sand.
28) Breastfeeding Cover
Last but not least, if you are breastfeeding and are a bit mindful of people looking at you, or you just want to give some extra shade to baby while feeding, consider bringing a breastfeeding cover.
You can get a FREE Nursing Cover at www.uddercovers.com/ by using my code MUMINTHEWOODS!
Baby Beach Essentials: Final Thoughts
That’s it mama, here’s what to bring to the beach with a baby: I have listed all the must-haves you need to survive a family trip by the ocean and have heaps of fun! Depending on your child’s age and where you are going exactly, you won’t need them all, but I am sure this is a good place to start for you to create your own list 🙂
Also make sure to check out these tips and hacks for baby at the beach on how to make the experience as effortless and stress free as possible. And remember to bring lots of patience and energy, you will need them!
Are you a mom about to go for a beach vacation with your baby and have some questions? Or have you already experienced it with your kids and would like to recommend other items that are not listed here? Then please let me know in the comments below – I would love to hear from you!
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