Making sure you have everything you need for baby when going on vacation is hard and bulky enough as it is, none-the-less, when you’re packing for a sandy vacation! Based on my recent and first time trip to the beach with my eight month old son, it urged me to try and share my experiences of what to bring, what not to, and some things you can do with them to keep it fun and safe.
We traveled down the eastern coast from home to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina - most known as the Outer Banks. Our first day there, we set off to the beach of course! Once we arrived, I scrammed, shoved, and grabbed everything I thought I'd need. Let’s just say you learn a lot from that first day.
Getting Baby from Car to Beach:
The first day I had the bright idea of using my stroller (since it’s a jogger a thought it might be easier with the tires) to carry everything - including the baby, onto the beach. First lesson, DO NOT drag your stroller out there. It is no easier than trying to drag a box of rocks. Although it’s extremely convenient when keeping belongings out of the sand, it’s not worth the work out.
The second day I strapped on my baby carrier, that way I had more hand availability. Much easier.
Sunscreen is proven safe for babies six months and older, so I knew I was in the clear there. Now which one to buy?! So many options... too many. I resorted to the one with 50 SPF, tear free, easy on the skin, and 80 minutes water proof (I know what you’re thinking. "Bad mom card"). Look, with a lot of my own research that formed my opinion about sunscreen, anything more than 50 is worthless anyway. Of course, if you choose to use more than that, totally cool! That’s just my personal opinion. I think the most important thing about sunscreen is to make sure you apply it to the skin before you leave the house for the beach. One, that gives it a chance to be more effective. Two, it allows the best chance for drying and soaking into the skin. Nobody, especially babies new to sand, like it stuck all over them in the first five minutes at the beach.
A hat and a shirt that covers the shoulders and back that can also get wet are important for maximum sun protection. No matter how much you keep that little on out of the sun, it still reflects from the sand.
Umbrellas are one of the most common items anyone takes to the beach, so don’t forget it this time so you can keep that baby in the shade!
A baby crib sized sheet was my best friend all of our days on vacation. I brought a pack-n-play (under safety) and would stretch the crib sheet over the top of it to create a shaded baby area, and it was amazing (a peek at that is below).
Keeping a safe distance from the ocean is very important when you have infants and young children. Not only can it be hazardous when an unexpected wave hits a child sitting alone, but a sudden burst of cool water, soaking everything you own, is a downer on anyone’s day.
As stated under the sun protection paragraph, I brought a pack-n-play. My son is crawling and cruising, but not yet a walker. Not only did the pack-n-play make it easy to keep an eye on him when I wanted to go into the ocean, etc. But it also was convenient for naps, safe playtime without sand and water, and it kept him shaded during those times under the umbrella with the covering crib sheet. It was a lot of extra weight but very worth it.
Protect the PACI! If your child does use a pacifier (mine does at naps and bed time) than make sure to keep it safe in a sand proof baggie or have clean, fresh water ready for rinsing.
Swimmy diapers are usually a no brainier when little ones are headed into outside, water territory. My son is a peanut, so to my surprise, they only make these diapers in size 3-4+. He’s currently in a 2. To improvise holding them up, I just bought him swimming trunks to go over top. Not only was it functional but soooo CUTE!
Now I don’t know if you all have shopped for swimmy diapers recently, but they are ridiculously priced, even compared to real diapers! So I made sure to have regular diapers handy for nap time and for when we headed back to the house.
Water is a must no matter where you are. So fresh water in a sippy cup, staying cool in a cooler is perfect.
Fruit that is high is water, like pineapple and watermelon, are good to bring for a nice snack that is healthy and not heavy on the gut in the heat. For food, it all obviously depends on the child’s age, and how you prefer to feed them. For me, pouches were my best friend. I use them for when he goes to daycare so he’s already comfortable with spoon feeding or sucking right out of them. They really are the most sand proof, the lid screws right back on, and they are convenient for storage. My two favorite brands are Plum Organics and Happy Baby (usually the clear crafted).
Beach blankets and towels are great for covering up, if need be. Also, it’s so great nursing in a bathing suit! The only trouble I kept running into was getting ready to nurse and finding sand and rocks all over my nipple - have a clean wet cloth or towel to get that off beforehand.
Ahead of time I packed water safe toys and some of his regular toys that were kinda sand proof so that he could use them in his pack-n-play. Just like every other kid on the beach, we had the basics:shovel, pale, sifter, shapes,but he couldn't go into the ocean alone (duh). So the second day we bought a baby pool and took it with us! We would fill it with ocean water, leaving little creatures he could explore and the water would conveniently warm up too.
Other things we did together was examine sea shells and rocks, stand in the ocean water every now and then, and his favorite...play in the sand. It was as if he knew not to eat it and just play. Picking it up, smooshing it in his hands, throwing it, and digging all around were mostly what he liked to do. It was adorable.
Some extras that might be useful -extra beach towels, extra onesies, and bag for wetclothes (those can certainly get smelly).
For Next Time:
Instead of a stroller, a wagon that the baby could ride in, as well as other items, could have been useful. After the first day, and we had stopped bringing the stroller, it became more difficult to carry everything back and forth to the beach.
Luckily for us, there was always a nice breeze that kept us pretty cool. If that had not been the situation, I think it would have been helpful to have a small fan to have sat near the pack-n-play to keep the baby cool.
Most important tips:
Although I am in the "modern" era of a baby raising, I don't think I follow many of the "guidelines". My son is a B.O.Y. I will allow him to leave his hat off for a few minutes if he wants. I will allow him to get scrapped up and fall down in the sand. I will also allow him to be naked!
Most important tip...Please do not hold your kids back from exploring! Their senses are going crazy when they enter this new sandy, wet, loud, and salty smelling environment. Let them be detectives, discovering this world, and be free.
Packing up to head to the beach these days is certainly not a sweet drink sipping, kindle reading, sun tanning day of full relaxation, but it can still be fun and relaxing with the kiddos!