A fan suggested that I do a roundup of gear that makes taking a baby to the beach more manageable. I obviously loved the idea because here I am…doing just that. Thank you dear friends for being my brain when I have none.
Back in the beginning of July we went to Orange beach (still haven’t blogged about it…oops!),
and recently we just got back from Destin…
so I feel like we have a pretty good handle on exactly what we need to make it successful-ish with our eight month old. And it should be known that if there was an item on Amazon that was liquid patience….it would be numero uno on the list. You will need TONS of patience.
But since that is a little harder to buy, let’s get to the items that you can purchase to keep your hot tot made in the shade…
Beach Bag - We have an oversized Lands End bag that is AMAZING for beach gear. In fact, it works so well that now it is our official beach bag and we use it year round to store the beach toys. The best thing is that the inside is big enough to tote all the toys, snacks and towels.
Canopy - Jer’s folks gave us a canopy last year (not this exact version but similar) and it is perfect for keeping your kids out of the sun. It’s nice for a big group to take breaks under plus Weston spent 99% of the time under the shade of the canopy. Not all beaches allow canopies so definitely check with your location.
Oversized Beach Towels – A few years ago we decided to buy a couple of these beach-towels-for-two from Bed Bath and Beyond. We didn’t know at the time that they would be a great investment when it comes to kids. Most towels get completely buried in sand in three-point-seven milliseconds. But these? They are big enough to spread out and keep the center relatively sand free…which is really nice when you are trying to get an infant to sleep.
Beach Toys – For Weston there was nothing that kept him happy like a bucket full of saltwater. He would play with a small handled shovel for a few minutes but then back to the bucket. By the end of the week, there was constantly a designated rinse bucket and a dedicated Weston bucket.
Sunscreen Stick - I don’t know about anyone else but sunscreen is only gonna go on my kids faces if I use the stick. Every other thing makes them cry. I don’t even need to actually start applying it before the tears arrive. But the stick is a different story. It’s a must have.
Spray Sunscreen - After the initial sunscreen application (we typically use the stick on the face and spray or lotion on the body), there is this challenge of keeping their little skin protected. We have found that the Coppertone Kids Spray is our current favorite. You have to make sure you get the mist…not the spray lotion…and that it is in good condition (if it gets dropped hard enough on the nozzle, it can clump the spray)…but it’s easy enough to reapply because the kids don’t even need to stop their sand-castle-building-challenge for you to spray them down.
Hat - This is obvious. Sometimes you can find ones that have a strap under the chin…but we have found that we like linen and cotton ones without straps because they are fast to rinse and dry. My tip for training them to keep it on? Stay close enough to put a palm on the crown of head every time they go to yank it off. After five minutes, they give up. And you win
Swim Diapers - We like the Little Swimmers diapers but we also dig the reusable swim diapers made for babies (like this version that Jessica Alba sewed with her own two hands). I bring an extra diaper just in case my little guy decides to make waves.
Swim Shirt - We love putting our boys in swim shirts for extra sun coverage. We learned that Weston slept best when we completely stripped him down for a nap, so making sure that the clothes were easy on and easy off was helpful.
Take & Toss Cups - Weston is just now getting the hang of sippy cups. He has taken two bottles in his life so he needed a little practice but eventually he sucks out of these just fine. I like the price (it’s usually a few bucks for a set of four) and that they now make versions with spout lids and even handles for locking the top on.
HappyTot food - Weston is obsessed with these baby food packs. Most of them are of an applesauce consistency if you are new to the baby-food-world. These are easy because they don’t require refrigeration, can be resealed and are easy for a baby to suck the food right out (no spoon! no bib! no mess!). I like it because they have versions with great organic foods like spinach and kale and green beans. Their convenience is priceless.
Fruit Cups - My little guy is doing great with our modified version of baby led weaning and these sealed cups help him get fresh fruits in while he’s having fun in the sun. The great thing is that adults like them too
Baby Powder - My favorite clean up tool is baby powder. I just pour a bunch in my hand and start wiping the kids arms, legs, and body down. It makes sand fall right off. And the kid smells pretty fantastic too.
Fan – This mist fan is awesome for cooling off babies. That’s the point, right? But it’s also nice because when you are rocking a child to sleep under a canopy and all you want to do is jump in the water, you can be self-air-conditioning and stay cool. Remember that little things that make you more comfortable help the kiddo relax too
In the end, we learned that getting Weston to sleep was key in our beach survival. The first day took three hours of rocking/nursing/soothing to get him down. The next day was five minutes. After he learned that the beach was a fine place to nap, he settled into his ‘towel nest’ with his comfort items (his lovie and paci) and we had a much more fun and relaxing day. Of course, every baby and family is different but for us, we thought of the entire process as an investment. I am sure that if he didn’t improve going down the second day, we would have no problem scheduling our day or changing his naptimes so that we could do it inside.
In the end, we loved our little beach babe and appreciated that we could spend the entire time together as a family soaking up that salty air and listening to the rhythm of the waves and the shrieks of joy from our boys. Do you have any thing that is a must-have for beach fun?! Or something that makes the beach more bearable?