Disclosure: I have received sample products for review. However, my opinions are my own and have not been influenced by the company in any way.
Let’s admit, going to the beach with a baby can be painful. No more sunbathing, reading while listening to the waves, or swimming on your own. Your entire time at the beach becomes a game of “how-do-I-keep-the-baby-out-of-the-sun” while trying not to let your baby face plant into the sand.
Not that I have ever let the baby do a sand face plant (ducks away in embarrassment).
Since we have 3 boys ages 5 and under and spend many weeks each year in the islands, I like to think that my husband and I have become masters of beach going with babies. My husband likes to say that he would like the beach without the sand or without all the gear, but we all know that’s not a reality. So, we’ve compiled a list of the tips and items that make our beach time a time to (sort of) relax.
Ensure Ample Shade is Available
One of the most difficult parts of bringing a baby to the beach is that you probably don’t want them sitting in the direct sun. Even with good sunscreen and quality sun hats, you need more shade if you are going to safely spend any time with a baby on the beach. Down here, Fort Zachary Taylor has a wooded area that makes this less of a concern, but other beaches like Bahia Honda are pretty much in the direct sun.
We were recently given a Rio 7″ Total Sun Block Umbrella to try out on one of our beach adventures and I cannot say enough wonderful things about this umbrella. We usually buy the cheap, big box store umbrellas, figuring that they will last a few seasons then we’ll buy a new one when needed. After using the Rio, I am unsure that I would ever buy another brand again.
First off, this umbrella screws directly (and easily) into the ground so that I do not have to worry about impaling my family or other beach goers if a gust of wind comes by. It has UV ray protection, and I will admit that it not only gave us shade, but this umbrella significantly blocked the stifling tropical heat when we were under it, which made for a great place to feed the baby.
It also had a built in sand anchor so that you could tilt it to keep sun out from behind you, but with the midday sun overhead, we did not need to use this feature.
Bring a Way to Confine Your Baby
Another problem with bringing a baby to the beach is that it can be difficult to put the baby down somewhere safe when your arms need a rest. Two years ago we put little guy on the sand – and he put fists full of sand in his mouth every chance he got.
So, we have tried to avoid that scenario with Iggy. This year we are using an infant water float with shade to protect the baby while giving him the opportunity to play in the water.
I would also suggest an old play yard. We tried an infant beach tent in the past, but the thing got so hot inside, I was terrified we would give the baby heatstroke.
Choose a Beach With Minimal Waves
We’ve learned that the “baby friendly” beaches change by the season and year. When we are looking for a beach for the kids, we are looking for a place that resembles more of a shallow pool or bathtub rather than a wavy, high thrill beach. Beaches with lots of waves makes it difficult for toddlers to stand and you’ll spend the majority of your time protecting your child from the current or ensuring they don’t get a face full of water.
Bring an Extra Large Blanket to Lay On the Sand
Whatever size towel you think you will need for the beach with kids – double it. We’ve been bringing a lightweight sheet to the beach which gives us lots of room and makes it easy to shake off sand. I am really curious about the mesh sand-free blankets I have been seeing. Anyone try one yet?
Leave the Towels in the Car and Carry the Kids from the Water
We’ve finally come to the realization that no matter what we do, everything we bring onto the beach will be sandy. We’ve corralled the car sand by buying removable rubber mats which make it much easier to remove sand (as opposed to our rug mats that never seem to get 100% clean after a beach trip). We bring one towel to the beach and leave the rest in the car. That way, we can dry off without adding more sand.
Right before leaving, we also have the boys go into the water to rinse off the sand and then we carry them off the beach (so they don’t get more sandy on the way off the beach). If we’re really lucky, there is a rinse station at the exit which earns a beach bonus points in our opinion!
Going to the beach with little kids is a lot of fun and doesn’t need to be high stress if you prepare!