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Tips For Going to the Beach with Babies

Remember when you could throw on a swimsuit, grab a towel and a good book, fill a cooler with ice cold drinks and head to the outer banks? Yeah, those days are long gone. Packing is a bit harder, and the thought of enjoying a good book in the sun is a pipe dream. Beach days look different now but in many ways, they are so much more fun. Watching our kiddos experience the magic of the beach is a simple (okay maybe not so simple) joy in life.

Hopefully some of these tips can simplify your planning so you can spend less time cleaning sand out of the baby’s mouth and more time enjoying your vacation.

Tips for Going to the Beach with Babies (and Big Kids)

  1. Bring shelter - the beach is hot and our babes are not cut out for an entire day in the sun. If it’s an umbrella or a beach tent, make sure you have shade.

  2. Find a way to contain baby - my favorite though slightly more labor intensive option is a small inflatable pool. You can put a little water in it and let baby splash around safely in the shade. Tons of quality water play will keep them cool and entertained. A more DIY option is to bring a fitted sheet. When you get to the beach put your backpack, cooler, shoes, and whatever else in the corners to give the sheet structure and make a little pen for the baby.

  3. Set times for water and sunscreen - It can be really easy to lose track of how much (yourself included) is drinking or when you last put on sunscreen. Set reminders at the start of the day so you don’t get dehydrated or sunburnt.

  4. Bring ALL THE SNACKS - Beach play and the hot sun makes for very hungry kiddos. Extra bonus if your snacks also contain lots of water to help keep everyone cool and hydrated - Watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, etc. Other favorites are applesauce pouches and granola bars.

  5. Load up all gear in a laundry basket – Throw all your towels, toys, snacks, and SPF in a plastic laundry basket. You’ll have a container to carry all your beach gear and can easily dump all the sand out before you load up the car.

  6. Freeze your pouches - Throw a handful of applesauce (etc) pouches into the freezer the night before. They will defrost with the heat of the day and make a slushy treat that will help keep your little ones cool. While you’re at it, freeze a couple water bottles. They will serve as ice packs at the start of the day and become a refreshing drink as they defrost.

  7. Pack a spray bottle - A spray bottle filled with ice water can be a fun way to cool off and doubles as entertainment for your kiddos.

  8. Baby Powder or Cornstarch - My husband will be the first to tell you that he hates sand. But a day full of water play and sweat means you’re probably taking half the beach home with you. Baby powder or cornstarch can be used in a pinch. Just sprinkle it on your skin and watch the sand fall off.

  9. Bring some wheels - You will have a lot of gear and at the end of the day, also some tired kiddos. Some sort of wagon will help to carry ALL THE THINGS. You can use a proper beach wagon with the massive wheels or we use our collapsible wagon which has the bonus of taking up much less trunk space.

  10. Throw your sunscreen in the cooler - When you reapply, the cold sunscreen will also help bring down body temps.

  11. Basic Beach toys - You don’t need anything fancy. A bucket and shovel are more than enough to entertain the kiddos. My son also loves bringing his little dump truck to move sand around. Throw all your toys in a mesh bag so you’re not bringing the beach home with you at the end of the day.

  12. Don’t forget the basics - Pack your towels, changes of clothes, SPF and a hat. Keep some extra towels in the car to protect your seats on the way home.

And one last bit of experienced-parent-wisdom... swim diapers only contain solids. That's right, if your baby pees in a swim diaper, the pee will escape. If you don't plan to get baby's bottom wet on the beach then stick with regular diapers.

Author: Nili Zaharony is a Raleigh mom of 3, artist, writer & FIT4MOM Instructor.

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