It’s summer! and all you can think of is the warm sun, cool blue waters and sand between your feet. While you are basking in the sun, your little one builds sandcastles and frolics in the waves. It's the perfect rejuvenation your entire family needs.
If you have a little one joining this trip it can be overwhelming to decide what to pack and what to leave behind, which is why we have put together a comprehensive list of baby beach essentials.
Before we get packing let's look at some safety tips
1. What age is appropriate?
While you might be eager to get out of the house and swim those child labour blues away, you may want to remember that your little one might be too delicate for the sun and the water. It is best to wait at least until the baby is two months old to take him into the water or the sun.
After two months of age, your baby’s mental development allows him to reciprocate to his surrounding environment as well as to people around him. Therefore, he or she might be able to enjoy the whole experience better.
Also, a newborn may not be able to cope with infections at a very early age. He is fairly new to the world and is yet to develop immunity to the most common microbes in our environment that most of us are immune to. At two months, although not fully immune, he would have at least had his first set of vaccinations.
2. What time of day is ideal?
Even at two months, the baby’s skin and eyes are too delicate for the harsh UV rays of the sun. This is why it is best to avoid the beach between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is too harsh.
The heat at these hours can also put the baby at risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Plan your beach trips during late evenings when the sun is not too harsh and the water is not too cold.
Plus, you get the perfect light to capture some amazing pictures of your little angel during the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset. The perfect sunset is sure to engrave some beautiful memories, not to mention some print-worthy pictures.
3. How long can the baby stay on the beach?
The smaller the baby the shorter your time should be on the beach. Children have a small reserve of body water and risk dehydration on prolonged outdoor activity.
If it’s your baby’s first beach visit and if he or she is less than six months, it is ideal to plan a short visit. It allows them to enjoy the outdoors without being exhausted.
For a two-month-old, an hour or so will be long enough to enjoy the outdoors without getting hungry or exhausted. Make sure to time the visit between feeds and naps, when your baby’s activity level is the highest. It can be longer if you have provisioned for a shaded nap area and timely feeds.
Their time in water also needs to be brief. As cool water can lower their body temperature.
Also make sure you are not too exhausted as well, as you are going to need to keep a close eye on your precious one while near the water.
4. Sun protection
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under 6 months of age should be kept under shade at all times to protect them from the sun. Shaded play areas can be created by using beach umbrellas, canopies or beach tents.
They also recommend dressing babies in cool comfortable clothes that cover as much body surface area as possible, wearing a wide brim baby hat, sunglasses and sunscreen (for babies over 6 months) to be safe in the sun.
5. Other safety measures:
- Always supervise babies whether on the sand or in water. Those big blue waves are going to be a big attraction for the baby and he or she is most likely to walk or crawl towards the water. Hence, constant supervision is advised.
- Try to stop your baby from swallowing sand, stones or anything from the beach.
- Hydrate your baby well throughout the trip. With smaller water reserves babies can get dehydrated pretty fast.
- Watch for signs of dehydration like dry eyes or lips, tiredness or dullness, sunken eyes, sunken soft spot on the head (fontanelle), fewer diaper changes or if urine is darkly stained.
- Choose a place that is well distanced from the waves for a day camping. As the tide rises you are much more likely to be closer to water than you plan to be.
- When in water, maintain a tight grip over the baby and have another adult with you for assistance.
- Keep emergency helpline numbers handy.
35 Baby beach essentials
Your day at the beach can be a memorable one when you have all the things that can enhance this experience. With a baby on board, the list can be endless, which is why we have put together a comprehensive list of products to choose from as per your convenience and liking.
1. Baby beach bag
Before you even get to packing you need just the right thing to pack it all in. A bag which is big enough to hold all your needs and more, yet is light but sturdy - Extra Large Canvas Tote Bag.
We recommend that it is made of organic materials like a cotton canvas which is easy to wash and has sturdy yet comfortable handles to do all the heavy lifting. Foldable bags are very versatile. You can always carry an extra bag for all those things that seem to accumulate on your trip back.
It is worthwhile investing in a good quality bag that is lightweight, foldable and machine washable.
2. Beach towels
These are absolute essentials when it comes to planning a beach trip and also the item that you are most likely to forget.
One thing we can tell you is that you could not possibly pack enough beach towels because you will most likely run out of them especially when you have a little one who is constantly going in and out of water.
These can double as a blanket to keep your little one warm when he or she gets cold or just to lay on the warm sand.
Make sure to pick an organic cotton turkish beach towel that is free from harsh chemicals or dyes to protect your little one from skin irritation or rashes. It is preferable to have one that is light and compact enough for you to pack at least a couple of them without making your bag too heavy.
Avoid thick towels which can accumulate sand in their fibers not to mention making it a hassle to pack them.
3. Baby blanket
A baby waffle blanket is essential not only at the beach but anywhere you take your baby. It keeps your little one warm and comfortable whenever they are out of the house.
Most babies find it difficult to nap in new places being overstimulated from everything around them. A familiar and warm baby blanket allows them to feel secure.
Remember to choose one that is light yet warm, lightweight and easy to pack.
Related Article: Detailed guide on how to swaddle your newborn baby.
4. Swim diapers
Your little one needs all the assurances before getting into the water and so do you. The assurance of keeping the water clean and avoiding any accidents comes with using swim diapers.
These are an absolute must to avoid any pee or poop-related accidents. These are waterproof diapers that will hold in the contents without causing any leaks.
Like regular diapers, these need to be re-checked every so often and changed so, it is better to keep at least a few of them handy. Make sure to pick the right size that is snug enough without being too tight to prevent leakage.
Can you imagine going to the beach without a swimsuit? This is probably the first thing you are most likely to pack.
Babies love getting in and out of the water whether it is a little splish-splash or a waddle in the waves. So swimsuits are a yes for all babies.
For babies less than 3 months, choose a swimsuit that is lined by fleece or other thermal material that is skin-friendly and also repels water on the outside. These babies are not very good at regulating body temperature and are at constant risk of hypothermia.
Babies over three months are likely to be more mobile and need swimsuits that allow them this freedom of movement.
Remember to choose darker color fabrics that absorb the UV rays and do not allow them to reach your baby’s skin. The more skin is covered the better the protection.
Don't forget to choose swimsuits that are machine washable and quick drying.
6. UV wetsuit
This is a swimsuit made from fabric that provides UV protection in addition to being swim-friendly. This modern swimwear has revolutionized our beach experience. While normal swimsuits keep us dry UV suits also protect our skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Look for UPF numbers on swimwear fabrics. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin.
For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 per cent of the sun’s rays and allows two per cent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly.
The Skin cancer foundation recommends a UPF of at least 30 to qualify as being protective.
These UV suits are especially great for babies less than 6 months who have to avoid sun protection skin creams. These are also great for kids of any age as it avoids the tedious task of reapplying sunscreen every few hours. We still recommend applying sunscreen in areas not covered by the fabric.
7. Rash creams
While swimsuits have come a long way in terms of fabric and design these can still cause chafing and rashes especially on someone with delicate skin like an infant. This is most likely to happen in a swimsuit that your child may have overgrown or from fabrics that inherently are harsh on the skin or both.
Rash creams can act as a barrier that protects the skin while preventing any rashes that can occur from swimsuits. Being moisture-proof, they also work well even when your little one decides to take a dip.
Make sure to apply a thick layer of rash cream, especially near the armpits and underwear lines before you dress your child in a swimsuit.
It is always better to prevent these rashes rather than treat them, especially if you want to avoid the inconsolable cry that these rashes bring on.
8. Baby beach shoes
Walking on sand is not an easy task for an adult let alone a child. If the sand is hot it can cause burns or heat boils on your little one’s feet. Water shoes are designed to be worn on the beach or in water, unlike regular shoes they do not soak up water and become heavy to walk around.
Given the dangers of sharp objects in the sand or the water including aquatic animals, it keeps your little one’s feet safe. It is also great for children who dislike sand sticking to their feet.
Remember to pick a pair that is machine washable, durable and sturdy.
9. Baby sunglasses
This is an essential part of your sun protection gear. Baby’s eyes are especially sensitive to UV rays from the sun. Direct sunlight can be damaging to your baby’s sensitive eyes.
Avoiding sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm is strongly advisable for infants. When you do take your little one out to the beach make sure to protect their eyes with sunglasses.
Make sure to choose a close-fitting, wrap-around style frame with bands to secure them in place. The lenses should have 100% UVA and UVB blocking capabilities and should be impact resistant.
10. Waterproof beach blanket
The hot sand can get very uncomfortable for both you and your baby. Laying it over to create a play area under a well-shaded area like a canopy or a tent allows your baby to be comfortable and prevents overheating.
These are also soundproof which makes them easy to clean and as a result are quite comfortable to lie on.
These make a great place to set your little beach picnic, enjoy a meal or just bask in the sun after a cold dip.
11. Pop up beach tent
A small private playpen that is well shaded and protective from the sun and the wind is just perfect for your little one for a day on the beach. This is exactly what a pop up beach tent would be.
It is one of the most important items that will make your and your baby’s time on the beach very comfortable and relaxing.
A beach tent provides a private shaded area for your baby to nap while giving you the privacy to breastfeed, change nappies, even take a nap yourself.
Choose one that is compact when folded and is easy to set up. Even the easiest tents can take a bit of an effort to set up but they are well worth it.
Make sure to stake the tent into the sand as it can get quite windy on the beach. You can also use sandbags as an alternative if you don't feel like digging your knee into the sand trying to stake a tent. Also, make sure the tent is well ventilated to keep your baby cool.
You can always extend the fun even at home by setting these up in your backyard or the playroom.
12. Baby canopy
If a beach tent feels a little reclusive then a beach canopy might be just the thing you need. These can be staked just like beach tents and provide shade for your entire family to bask under and enjoy an unobstructed view of the entire beach.
Beach canopies come with a variety of fabrics and make, including those with UPF (UV protection factor) which protect you and your entire family from the UV rays.
Being open if your baby is mobile you need to watch the baby closely to make sure he or she doesn’t wander into the water.
13. Baby water float
If your little one loves the water just as much as you do, you are going to have a difficult time holding him up in the water. The more comfortable way for both of you to enjoy the waves is a water float preferably with a pop-up canopy for shade.
Baby floats that wrap your baby around the neck are the safest as these reduce the risk of suffocation. Also, look for other safety features like seat straps and safety valves. Baby floats with a pop-up canopy are the best as these will protect your baby from the sun while allowing him to splish and splash in the water.
Remember to strap yourself to the baby’s water float as beach waves can be quite strong and carry the baby with them.
14. Beach mesh bags
These multi-purpose mesh tote bags are a god-send to carry a million things that seem to have magically accumulated on your stay on the beach. The mesh drains out all the water and sand that you would want to willingly leave behind.
They are great for carrying all the beach toys and also for all the beach souvenirs that your little one refuses to leave behind.
They are lightweight and foldable, which means you can always carry a couple of extras.
A great beach hack is to put all your wet clothes and hang them in the sun to allow your clothes to dry just enough to take them home without dripping water all over.
15. Baby beach toys
Beach toys enhance your entire family’s experience at the beach. These are not just for your little one but you as a family.
Remember to pick toys that take advantage of the beach.
The choice for beach toys are almost infinite but make sure to include basic varieties like sand toys like sand buckets, shovels, rakes, castle molds and water toys like water guns, pool noodles etc.
You can even include some frisbees, beach balls, kites to enjoy your day in the sun as a family.
On that note don't forget to pack your little ones’ favorite toy. The one he or she cannot part from.
16. Portable baby bassinet
A well-fed and well-slept baby is a happy baby. Babies need their nap and quite often so. A safe and comfortable place for naps is in a bassinet. These can be placed under shade in a tent or under a canopy for your baby's regular naps.
Make sure to choose one that is collapsible or foldable to make it easier to pack. There are also ones with canopy or shade which can be great especially on a sunny beach.
17. Baby stroller
Unless you are planning to camp in a single site, a baby stroller is a must. It will allow you to comfortably stroll around the beach, enjoy a little shopping or move about with so much ease.
It also allows your baby to enjoy the beach taking in all the new and beautiful sights. Sometimes for an inconsolable baby, a stroll on the beach might just be the thing to calm him or her.
Pro Tip: Along with the stroller, do not forget to take your muslin car seat cover especially if you have a infant because it also works perfectly for strollers.
18. Beach wagon
A day in the sun is what you have been looking forward to all winter and what you are probably not looking forward to is lugging around all the beach necessities, which with a baby around is almost everything.
These collapsible beauties make it very easy to carry all your baby stuff around with ease. These are very easy to set up, maneuver and collapse when no longer needed. These also save you multiple trips from your beach to your car every time you need something.
Remember to choose one with a heavy-duty frame, multi-terrain wheels suitable for sand, gravel or grass and a capacity that fits your family’s needs. Of course, these can be used not for your beach trip but also picnics, hikes or fishing trips.
19. Baby carrier
A baby carrier is something very convenient to have. If you have a stroller you probably might not need a baby carrier as well. But this is a great alternative for babies that are out for the first time and if they are especially young.
Younger babies still need the warmth of their parents to feel secure and a baby carrier is great for that. Also, some babies simply hate a stroller which induces some separation anxiety in them in which case a baby carrier is a great alternative. Strollers can also be a bit of a hassle to push on the beach which makes a baby carrier preferable.
A baby carrier will allow you to carry your baby at the same time and give you the freedom to move around comfortably.
20. Baby beach chair or a booster chair
A baby beach chair or a booster chair is a great accessory that functions in multiple ways. Every activity your little one is in the mood for can be done in the safety of the chair while giving you the peace of mind of being in control of their mobility.
It can be quite exhausting to constantly keep an eye on your little one who is drawn towards the blue lapping waves. A baby beach chair with secure straps can help you relax on the beach while still allowing your little one to enjoy the beach. With a beach chair snack time can be peaceful and sand-free. You can also set up a coloring station to entertain them for a short time.
A baby playpen is a great way to keep your baby occupied at the beach while being safe. If you have got a curious crawler then a playpen with windbreakers is your ticket to peace of mind.
These also come with a UV shade cover that makes them perfect not only for the beach but also for your backyard.
Make sure to pick one that is portable and easy to set up. It is ideal to have one with see-through walls that makes it easy for you to keep an eye on the baby.
22. Inflatable pool
Inflatable pools are much safer for young children than the vast infinite ocean.
Setting up one on the beach with some of their favorite toys will allow them to enjoy the water without running towards the ocean. It will also put your mind at ease as they are much safer playing within your vision of sight.
23. Portable fan
The humid air at the beach with rising temperatures can quickly become uncomfortable for the little one. A portable fan can be very handy to keep your baby cool.
These battery-operated fans are quite flexible and can be fixed on a variety of surfaces including baby strollers, tents, high chairs, baby carriers etc,
They can also be fixed on bicycles, car seats, cribs. You can even fix it on your treadmill.
Make sure the fan is baby-friendly to protect your little one’s inquisitive fingers.
24. Spray bottles
Overheating is a real danger especially in smaller children and misting them helps keep their skin temperature cooler preventing water loss through evaporation.
Spray bottles are very handy to cool your baby down when it gets too hot. Simply mist your baby and around him to keep the air cooler.
You can also use a spray bottle to spray off the sand from your baby without having to aggressively rub the sand off their delicate skin.
25. Collapsible cooler bag or Cooler box
The heat can easily perish all the food items quickly and this includes the baby food as well.
A collapsible cooler bag that reasonably maintains the food temperature makes all the difference on the beach. It protects your snacks, baby food and drinks and makes them last a whole lot longer. Being collapsible these are light to pack and easy to carry around.
You could also opt for cooler boxes depending on your preference.
Cooler boxes on the other hand are much sturdier and more efficient because of their build. They can be dragged around with ease with all your food and drinks safe.
26. Baby life jacket
Inflatable devices like water wings and inner tubes can be dangerous for the little one and are not recommended. If your child is old enough to enter the water it is prudent to make sure he or she is wearing a lifejacket. These are usually designed for children over 20 lbs.
Lifejackets come in various forms but, for any lifejacket make sure that the size and fit are right for your child’s weight.
These can be overwhelming for kids and they may not like it right away so it is best to get them used to it at home first. You could probably get them to wear one in the bathtub and around pools to get used to the idea.
27. Baby powder
One thing that you cannot get away from your beach trip is sand. Sand can be very abrasive especially for your little one’s skin. Trying to rub off sand can cause redness, irritation and rashes that can end up your little one in tears.
This is why baby powder is an absolute beach essential. Baby powder can be used to rub off all the sand from the baby’s skin without abrading the skin. Simply dust a baby powder all over his or her body and gently dust off the sand.
Make sure it has all the emergency medicines to treat basic ailments including fever, running nose, cough, emergency allergy-related medicines (Epipen if your baby has known allergies), medicines to treat cuts and scratches. Apart from the medicine make sure you have all the emergency contact information including that of nearby hospitals.
Snacks form an integral part of your day at the beach. Your little one is excited and most likely to exhaust themselves quickly and you need to restore their energy as often as possible.
Include a wide variety of perishables and non-perishables in your snacks list. The heat can make your food perish faster so it's always better to have a wide variety.
It always takes much longer to get home than you anticipate so having those extra sandwiches for yourself and your family makes all the difference between tired and angry, or full and content.
Don’t forget to pack all the feeding equipment for your baby whether it is a breast pump, feeding bottle etc, as well as plenty of reusable cutlery for the rest of your family.
29. Thermosteel water bottles
On a sunny day and on the beach, you and your family are at risk of dehydration. Your baby is much more at risk for this as they have low total body water compared to adults. It is important to pack enough potable water and remind yourself and your family to take regular sips.
These refillable bottles are very handy and come in various capacities. Carrying a few will allow you to stock up on enough water to survive the heat.
30. Disposable / ziploc bags
There are going to be plenty of disposables as well as wet and sandy things to carry back home. Ziploc bags are great for sealing wet or soiled clothes. You can also use these to carry home leftover foods.
These are also great to pack lotions or shampoos which carry the risk of spilling over. We recommend packing these items in Ziploc bags and avoiding any mess that can spoil your beach holiday.
31. First aid kit
The sand and the water can be especially deceptive when it comes to their hidden dangers.
Children often run around and jump in sand or water rarely understanding the dangers that may lie underneath like sharp seashells or rocks.
Sea animals can be venomous and pose danger especially to children who can get curious and deliberately touch these animals.
Wherever you go it is always advisable to keep a basic first aid kit with you especially when you have a little one.
32. Bug spray
Your day at the beach can quickly become very annoying with bugs buzzing around you. Insects are known to be carriers of various diseases and it is vital to take all the precautionary measures to avoid insect bites.
One of the best ways to keep you and your family safe is by using bug spray.
Centers for Disease Control And Prevention recommends using EPA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing active ingredients like DEET.
Apart from bug spray, also make sure to dress your little one in clothing that covers their arms and legs and use mosquito nets to cover strollers or play areas.
33. Diapers and Wet wipes
Although quite obvious it is these obvious things we tend to forget to pack. Baby wipes may not just be for your baby alone, they are great for clean-ups as well.
Carry extra diapers along with all your diaper changing necessities to those quick swaps.
34. Camera and outfits
So, you had an amazing day at the beach and made wonderful memories that you will cherish for life. The only way you can teleport yourself back into these beautiful memories is by taking pictures.
While you are at it why not plan a couple of cute outfits to put your little one in. You could try the classic sailor, the dandy beach dude a beach mermaid. Get creative and include a few props to get it just right.
35. Extra Clothes
With a baby around it doesn’t hurt to pack a couple more clothes more than what you think you need. There are always going to be accidents and spit-ups, needless to say, the dozen trips in and out of water. So, it is always wise to carry a few extra sets of clothes for yourself and the baby.
When you are heading to the beach and you have a little one accompanying you the packing list can be endless and the options overwhelming. But it is really up to you to decide the essential things and those that you can make do without.
Pick items that are multi-functional, compact, well-built and last longer. Most of the items we have listed are not restricted to the beach alone and are versatile in their use. You can always use them in your backyard to extend the fun.
Nonetheless no matter what you pack and what you leave behind always remember to have fun and make a lifetime of memories.