It's getting to be summer time, and the beach is my happy place, but once you have a baby it's definitely not as simple as it once was to hop in the car and go! That said, my notoriously sleep-averse son had some of the best naps of his life listening to the crash of the ocean, so there are definite benefits! And getting out in some sunshine can help reset circadian rhythms for anyone who still has their days and nights mixed up.
Nobody wants to fry their children, though, so what's a Beach Baby to do? Here are some tips for babies first beach trip:
Stay out of too much sun with the littles. The AAP does advise keeping young children out of direct sunlight as much as possible, so try wearing light protective clothing or rashguards, or covering with a breathable blanket (try an Aden & Anais swaddler). Not all clothing offers the same protection from UV rays, so avoid loose weaves and keep baby in the shade as well. We love the Sportbrella for the size and flexibility in set up options. Minimize exposure midday, when the sun is the highest and the rays are the strongest. A wide brimmed hat will help create your own shade - and don't forget eye protection. Baby Banz are supercute and have a prayer of staying on.
Pack safe sunscreen - even for babies under 6 months. If you ARE going to be in the sun, a non-toxic mineral based sunscreen is preferable to a sunburn, and the AAP recommends its use in moderation when necessary. The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the best sunscreens each year and they have an app where you can look up how yours rates. My favorite is Beautycounter's sunscreen - it goes on more smoothly than many of the competing highly rated lotions, but I also love Thinksport - and I won't have to sell my firstborn in order to keep us covered all summer. Avoid using sprays - I know, they are SO convenient, but they don't offer the same coverage as lotions, and they can be inhaled and potentially harmful to developing lungs.
Bring your baby gear. An inflatable baby tub is light and easy to pack, and serves as a little splash pool that you can set up right next to your blanket. While baby powder is not recommended to treat or prevent diaper rash any more, it can be very helpful in dusting sand off your skin at the end of the day,
Leave the stroller at home. Most strollers won't roll freely through the sand and will be a bit frustrating. Here is one of those times where my inner babywearing cheerleader is going to come out - wearing the baby leaves your hands free to schlep all of that gear above, and some lunch and sand toys to boot! A one layer carrier like a mei tai or a ring sling are a cooler choice, and there are even options made to be worn in the water! A short, lightweight wrap could be used as a blanket for some of those beach naps...
Invest in a cart to carry your stuff. Sand toys and umbrellas and sunscreen, oh my! The days of grabbing a small backpack are behind you - pack all of your gear in a good cart with sand-suitable wheels. My husband will tell you his beach cart was one of the best purchases he ever made it even has a built-in cooler to stow snacks!
Finally, always be mindful of children near the water. Don't trust floaties or puddle jumpers - keep hands on your kids. For older kids, point out the nearest lifeguard stand and what the blankets around yours look like. We always start the day by introducing ourselves to the lifeguard - that way the guard can recognize my children, and they know where to go for help if needed.