As much as we are a mountain family - we are equally a beach family! We took B-man to the beach at 6 weeks old, as first time parents. Seven years later and now Baby-S has joined our beach trips. I've gotten asked many times from friends who are new to taking a baby to the beach - what should we bring? How will they nap? Any advice? I'm putting it all right here!
My #1 concern as a parent is always, always: sun protection. Having your baby get sunburned makes you feel like the worst parent. We experienced this in summer 2020 when Baby-S had been under a non-UPF umbrella and we didn't realize. The top of his little 6 month head was so crispy and red, we felt like jerks. So I'll start with sun protection!
Everyone likely has their own opinion of what sunscreen to buy. I think this one is so critical for your baby and kids skin. I encourage you to check out this list of sunscreens without chemicals. This from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and they have tested all the sunscreens out on the market.
We use this beach tent, and I like it because we can put his bath tub in here, and then it has full closure if baby is napping, or the wind is blowing sand around. We also have this Sport-Brella for the adults, and when baby wants to be between our feet and playing. We could sit in the tent, but it can get a little stuffy in there and we much prefer a breeze! Both are useful for us when we go to the beach.
I do recommend spending the money on the Sport-Brella or you may end up with a situation pictured below! It is around $60 but can withstand high winds, is UPF50 and is HUGE - we can easily fit 3-4 people in the shade it produces, and the flaps that come down are clutch when the sun moves. We also use it for all of B-man's sports games, so it gets used a lot.
We bring this beach bath tub. We like this one because it deflates for easy packing, is lightweight for all the water refills, and the walls are sturdy to hold up baby. It is also smaller than some out there, but it keeps the toys within reach for those little arms. Your baby must be able to sit up in order to use this, and never leave them unattended. I know you know this but I'll say it again - babies can drown in an inch of water.
Another must to bring to the beach is this Burt's Bees dusting powder. You guys, this magically dusts off ALL sand on that precious baby skin (and your older kids skin). Baby S liked to constantly grab his sandy feet, then put his sandy hand in his mouth. Usually I would wash it off with the bath tub water but if they are sitting on a dry towel - this powder is amazing at softly getting off that sand. It is talc free and all natural.
Now let's talk about the beach outfit for baby.
Beach hat that ties
Reusable swim diaper
UPF+ 50 rash guard shirt (comes in every color)
Water shoes (if they are mobile)
I really love the hat linked as it is so lightweight, and covers the back of their neck. These reusable swim diapers are so stinking cute, and much more environmentally friendly. They have snaps that can adjust and grow with baby. The patterns it comes in are to die for. We also like to cover as much skin as possible, and these UPF rash guard long sleeve t-shirts work really well. They come in many colors, and you can match with your swim diaper. It is crazy bright on the beach with the sand and water - if you can add sunglasses under a hat, go for it!
Many babies may not enjoy the feeling of sunglasses, but we have found the softer ones that have bendy arms work the best, and are somewhat indestructible. Our oldest has gotten very used to sunglasses and a hat from when we was little, so keep putting them on that baby and they will eventually get used to it. I also recommend water shoes because most surfaces at the beach or hotel are HOT and you don't want baby's sensitive feet burning when they walk around the deck or pool. Even when they are in the swimming pool, those surfaces will tear up those little feet.
Beach toys. As you can see above, Baby S (pictured in that adorable reusable swim diaper and rash guard) is sucking on a (closed) ketchup packet. We bring sand toys for all the kids to play with, and the baby usually grabs the smaller toys to smack around the water and sand. Don't overthink this one - keep it simple, easy to grab, safe to bite on.
If you didn't notice, we're a big fan of hats in this family! Keep that sun off my face, so I can stay young looking as long as possible! We have a few different mesh beach bags that we like. You're already carrying a bunch of crap to the beach, make sure the vehicle in which things are carried is light, and if possible, see through - and has a lot of pockets.
I've been eying this one on Amazon - $45 and seems HUGE with SEVEN outside pockets!
Food + Drink. The first thing we do when I get to the beach is buy groceries. I get a ton of fresh fruit, and I bring lots of containers for them from home (money saving trick - don't forget your containers). I slice up apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, and we bring grapes and any other fruit your kids like. For the baby, he LOVED sucking on cold orange slices. It not only soothes their gums if teething, but it is getting some hydration in them! We have these reusable food storage bags that work so well. Flimsy, plastic bags are always hard to open with little wet and sandy hands. These are great - and you simply re-fill them with more fruit to stock up for the next beach day.
In addition to fruit we bring lots of the Honest Kids fruit juice, water, crackers, sunflower seeds - and pack several premade sandwiches. This is also the rare time I allow Gatorade for my older kiddo - gotta restore those electrolytes. We bring two ice chests. One for food and one for the drinks. This keeps your food from getting soggy and crushed by heavy drinks.
A few extra, don't forgets:
Lotion or aloe if the sun does sneak past you
Motrin/Benadryl/other medicine you may need
Goggles for the older kids
Water float if you have a pool
I put together everything listed throughout this post into this handy PDF you can print and use!
Anything I might have missed?! Do you have a must-bring to add to my list?