Your days of lying aimlessly by the pool with a margarita in hand may have to take a short respite now that your little ones are around, but fear not, lake-loving parents.
While this summer’s beach trip may not be quite as relaxing as your sun-bathing by the shore days, with the right gear and accessories (and realistic expectations!) the beach can be a magical place for the whole family. Here are the top ten must haves for a fun, successful day at the beach with your baby or toddler.
10 Appropriate Attire
Scandinavian parents have a commonly used phrase when it comes to appropriate clothing: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” And while this is certainly applicable for harsh, cold climates, it also rings true for protecting your family from those UV rays at the beach. Set your child up for success by dressing him in clothing that can withstand all the elements of the beach.
Look for rash guards with long sleeves for optimal coverage, add a swim diaper on the bottom (pack a few extras!), and a sun hat or baseball cap on top. Bring water shoes for little feet, sunglasses for eye protection, and extra sets of dry clothes in case your child wants to dry off for the day.
9 Sand Resistant Blanket
Beach sand: Every parent’s best friend and worst enemy. We love to build castles with it, bury grandpa’s feet under it, and search for hidden creatures beneath it, but let’s face it. Babies love to eat it! So how do we stop our little ones from chowing down on an afternoon snack of sand? We keep a sand-free space!
Purchase a sand resistant blanket that prevents sand from gathering on the top of your beach area. With a quick brush of the hand, sand moves from on top of your blanket to underneath, pushing its way through the mesh. Empty that bag of baby toys on top, and bring some baby powder to wipe off any excess sand, and you’ve created a seaside spot that’s fun, relaxing, and sand free.
8 Sun Coverage
Once your sand-free space is set up, you’ll need plenty of overhead coverage from the harsh sun rays above. Several options exist for portable beach tents, ranging from large, family sized options, to small spaces perfect for a napping baby. Most families utilize a combination of both in an effort to provide shade for the whole gang.
Look for a tent that’s light, easy to carry, and doesn’t require a construction team to assemble. With your shady spot established, you’ll be ready for a day full of sun and splashing.
7 Inflatable Baby Pool
Since ocean waves are a little too unpredictable for babies and toddlers, bring the ocean to their level by bringing a small, inflatable pool. Fill it with ocean water, add some toys, and enjoy a few moments of peace while your baby splashes around.
You’ll keep her safe and contained, while also offering her some baby-sized fun that’s less intimidating than the vast waters of the sea.
6 Sand & Water Toys
While the textures and sounds of the ocean are entertaining on their own, one of the most important items to add to that ever-growing packing list are toys that can be used with sand and water. Here’s a short list of must-haves to build that perfect sand castle and keep your toddler entertained all day long:
- Sturdy shovels and rakes
- Buckets of various sizes (with strong handles for carrying water!)
- Pretend play sets for baking and cooking
- Trucks and diggers for construction play
- Sifters for finding seashells and other beach treasures
- Bonus points if you bring along a kite for those warm, windy evenings!
5 The Snack Buffet
Everyone’s favorite part of relaxing on the beach almost always includes munching down on a favorite snack or two. And while toys and pools are great entertainment for babies and toddlers, nothing beats food!
Pack along a variety of snacks to offer your little one throughout the day. Mix up nutritious options like carrot sticks and grapes with special treats like cookies and potato chips; pack lots of water, and maybe even a special juice box for the kids. You’re making memories here, so now is the time to let the reins loose a bit on healthy eating.
4 Hydration Station
Extra sunshine means extra dehydration, so increase that water intake for you and your little one! Bring a water bottle for each family member and keep it in a cooler nearby. Offer drinks frequently, and be sure to provide plenty of bottles or breast feedings to nursing infants.
3 Baby Carrier
The beach can be an overwhelming experience for little nervous systems. Keep your child safe and secure, and your own hands free by bringing along a baby carrier.
Utilize a waterproof carrier for taking a dip in the pool, or wrap your baby up in a sling carrier for a midday snooze. You’ll have the freedom to move around comfortably while your little one stays cozy and calm.
2 Heavy Duty Wagon
Packing for a day trip to the beach can often feel like preparing for a week-long hiking trip. Save yourself some trips back to the car by using a heavy-duty beach wagon to carry all of your beach belongings.
Look for a wagon with wheels that roll through multiple terrains (including sand!) and pack it full of all the items you need for the day.
1 Attitude Is Everything
Arguably the most important thing to bring on a family trip to the beach doesn’t fit neatly inside a beach wagon: the right attitude. You can prepare as much as possible and pack all the right items, but without realistic expectations and a healthy dose of optimism, your trip will be doomed to fail.
Yes, your beach days will now look different from they used to. You won’t read as many books or get as much shut-eye, but family beach trips are their own kind of magic. So, prepare as much as you can, expect a tantrum or two, and take the day as it comes. Remember, you’re not just building sand sculptures and castles, you’re building core memories for your children. And those will never wash away.