I have never been one to pack light for the beach. I stare enviously at the people who show up with a beach towel and a bottle of sunscreen, and I'm not even talking about the Ryan Gosling look a like. When I pack for the beach (pre-baby), I look like I am preparing for an intercontinental trek. So you can imagine my stress about taking a baby to the beach. We started planning our first vacation with a baby in the middle of summer and I immediately began planning, shopping, listing...you know the way all great vacations start. In previous years our vacations almost always included a passport, but my husband was nervous about traveling with a baby in general, let alone traveling internationally with a 6 month old. I began research on baby friendly vacations and we settled on Outer Banks, NC. (Check out our photo contest entry on our vacation realtors Facebook page...go ahead and click vote while you are there.) :)
The location was selected, our dates were booked and now the planning begins. I started with my standard list...clothes, toiletries, etc. After that I started thinking about what would make it easier and more comfortable for the baby at the beach. This is the list I came up with.
First and foremost I thought about sun protection. My little guy was going to be just over 6 months so I wanted to choose a sunscreen that would be gentle but effective. I read a lot of reviews, top ten lists and individual recommendations. I ended on Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection; it helped that we were already using a lot of Aveeno baby products with no reactions. I also wanted to have a place for a break from the sun. I researched beach umbrellas and tents. I actually purchased one and returned it. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime free shipping and returns. The first purchase was an easy pop up option, but not so easy fold up. After a tantrum in the living room trying to fold it up (me not the baby) I quickly hit the return button on my Amazon orders page. The second purchase was a little more expensive, but oh so worth it. When the Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent arrived, I quickly unpackaged it and set it up in the living room. No issues, it went up easily and it was so big. There was plenty of room for the baby, me and my husband. Now for the real test...can I get it back in the bag. With a quick release the tent collapsed and easily slid back into the carry bag. Jackpot...we have a winner. This was the one we kept and took to the beach.
How to dress our little guy for the beach was another question. I actually took 2 types of swim diapers with us to the beach and looking back I now know I will not be using disposable swim diapers again. We tried them out, but they just didn't fit snug enough for my comfort. I did not want to be the mom with a poo incident at the beach or the pool. I had the Alvababy swim diapers in our beach bag also. They are adjustable and will fit from 0 to 2 years; plus they come in so many cute prints. At $9.99 for two diapers that will fit until age 2 with the adjustable snaps they are a great deal. The snaps also make these easy to remove from a wet baby; particularly important for a poo situation...you do not want to pull a poopy diaper down.
I had the WORST heartburn while I was pregnant...I literally felt like I was trying out for the role of fire eater in the circus every day after the 3rd month. Nothing helped...not antacids, elevation, prescription medication. Wait...where was I going with this?! Oh yes. Everyone told me the old wives tale about heartburn and babies being born with a full head of hear. If that is the rule, my little man was the exception to the rule. Very little hair means I need to protect that pretty little bald head. I ordered the I-Play Brimmed Baby Sun Hat. It works great for protecting his head and he miraculously leaves it on. The chin strap definitely helps with that but starting early with the hat was also helpful.
I do NOT go outside without sunglasses so why would I expect my baby to do so?! I actually ordered these Baby Banz Sunglasses. They have an adjustable strap that keeps them in place and fits from 0 to 2 years of age...I love it when I can find a product my little man isn't going to grow out of in 2 months. They also come in a large range of colors a couple patterns. My little man gets so much attention in his sunglasses; everyone thinks they are so cute. He has been wearing them since he was 6 weeks old and they always stay on. If they do get broken, the company currently offers a 1 year replacement guarantee.
We had a lot of stuff to take to the beach plus a baby to carry. I looked at all of my baby carriers for the best option for the beach. I have some great carriers, but I wanted something specific for walking on the beach. I found a Mesh Ring Sling and I was sold. It was so easy to put on, it could go in the water and it was mesh so it was cooler than a lot of my other slings. I also wore this into the pool and the splash zone.
There was a pool at our condo so I ordered a baby pool float for the pool. I definitely did not use this in the ocean but it worked great at the pool The sun shade offered extra protection for my baby and the float had toys on the front to keep our little man entertained and distracted.
I actually ordered Evaporative Cooling Towels just for our walks in the park. Summer in the park in a black stroller didn't seem ideal, so these offer a little extra cooling for the stroller. We took them to the beach and they worked great. They did have to be wet frequently because it was so hot, but we are at the beach so no shortage of water.
I actually packed more towels for the little man than I did for myself. They were perfect for building a impromptu bed in his tent for nap time. I packed several regular beach towels and a cute Lobster hooded towel for when little man got out of the water.
The beach is hot...even in North Carolina. We wanted to be sure we kept little man's bottles cool. I have an insulated compartment on the front of my diaper bag that works great for our regular outings, but wanted something extra for the beach. I use Skip Hop Cooler with ice pack for longer outings and the beach and it works great.
Rechargeable stroller fans have been great for our daily walks in the park and we threw them in the beach bag also. They were perfect for getting our little man a little extra breeze when he was napping in the tent.
We were oceanfront so it was just a quick walk past the pool to the beach, but I recommend a beach cart if you have to walk farther than that. Carrying a baby and all the gear is a lot even if there are 2 parents to divide the load. Be sure to order one with big tires for the sand.
This is my list of beach must haves, but I would love to hear what you use to make beachin' with a baby easier. Hope this helps out and I wish you many wonderful beach trips.