Preparing for a Beach Day with a Baby or Toddler
Babies and the beach - A winning combination?
Does the thought of bringing a baby or toddler to the beach strike fear in your heart? You might be picturing sand in every crevice, the toddler running headfirst into the ocean, and sunscreen in her little eyes.
But wait! It doesn't have to be that bad. We promise! After reading this blog, you will feel more confident, prepared, and dare we say ... EXCITED to bring your baby or toddler to the beach.
A little preparation and planning can go a long way when it comes to vacationing with small children. Now – listen up, learn, and plan your next Topsail Island vacation today.
1. Rent the right beach house
If you have the option and budget, an oceanfront home will make your vacation so much easier. When you are able to just walk out the back door and the beach is at your feet, many of the challenges fall away. You can run "home" for potty breaks, snacks, air conditioning and naps.
You may also consider renting a home that has a swimming pool (or access to a community pool).
Sometimes, it's just easier to take a dip in a nice clean swimming pool vs. the sandy beach, especially when little kids are involved.
2. Pack the perfect beach bag
What is perfect, anyway? For a family with little ones, it means bringing the right swim diapers, snacks, water, a few toys, and an easy-to-apply sunscreen. And... we are sure you have heard the "baby powder trick" - a few shakes of it will help get sand out of all those baby folds and crevices!
For a full packing list, read this blog: Beach Bag Essentials That Will Simplify Your Life.
3. Snacks. Snacks. And.... more snacks
Every parent knows that the key to a happy baby is a full tummy! Heck - that's the key to happiness for just about everyone. So, pack a small cooler with all of your baby's favorites.
Fresh fruits and veggies are great choices because they are hydrating and nutritious.
Older toddlers will appreciate bite size pieces of cheese, crackers, pretzels and pouches of applesauce.
⚠️IMPORTANT⚠️ Don't forget to hydrate. Offer water and other drinks often. The sun and wind are very dehydrating and this can be dangerous for little ones.
4. Sunscreen like a pro
Before you ever leave your vacation rental, sunscreen every inch of your baby in a high quality, full-spectrum sunscreen lotion. Then, we highly recommend using a long-sleeve rash guard bathing suit. Once you are at the beach, reapply sunscreen / sunblock as needed (this is where the sprays really come in handy). Make sure baby is dry before sending her back into the water (or plopping her down into the sticky sand). We like hats for babies too... if yours will keep one on!
5. Try not to bring too much
Are you an overpacker? Yeah. Me too. But TRY not to bring too much to the beach. Babies and toddlers don't need much to have a fabulous time. They make some really cool tents and shade umbrellas these days - they fold up small so that might be a good option. Skip the chairs and boogie boards and large beach toys, if you can. Focus on a safety vest for baby, snacks and drinks, and have a great day!
6. Go early or late
If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, you are up with the birds. You might as well take advantage of this and go to the beach early! Grab a cup of coffee and head out the door - this is the best time for baby. She is fresh, happy, and the sun isn't too strong yet. You can also go to the beach after dinner. Sun's rays are waning, tummies are full from dinner, and the waves are still beckoning. Enjoy!
(Don't forget a nice air-conditioned nap between beach visits)
7. Know when to say when
Little kids can't handle the beach for very long. If they are showing signs of meltdown (you know the ones...), start packing up and stay ahead of it. This can get tricky if you have older kids who are having a blast at the beach and don't want to go home yet. Hopefully you have a spouse, partner, friend, sister, or grandmother traveling with you who can bring baby back to the rental for some rest and relaxation, and everyone can get the most out of their beach vacation.
8. Think about safety
- Always keep an approved flotation device on your child when he is near the water.
- Teach your child not to touch any "cool" looking sea creatures without showing you first!
- If you dig a hole, make sure to fill it back in.
- Bring a first aid kit to the beach.
- Read more: Help! What To Do When Something Goes Wrong on Vacation
9. More tricks of the trade
- Keep a spray bottle of nice, cold water in your cooler. Kids love to spray themselves and others and it feels so good! It's also useful for washing off little hands before snack time.
- Bring some sort of shade. A foldable pop-up tent is perfect.
- If your rental is far away and your toddler is potty training, consider bringing a portable potty (with plastic bag liners). Have plenty of swim diapers on-hand for younger children. Please dispose of these properly!
- Consider water shoes for baby - the sand can get very hot and sometimes there are sharp rocks and shells.
- Freeze some water balloons in your cooler. They will keep your food cold, and when they melt, they are a fun toy!
- Bring bubbles. Everyone loves bubbles.