Remember when getting ready for a day at the beach was as simple as throwing your bathing suit, a towel, a snack and some sunscreen in a waterproof bag and heading out the door?
If there's a baby in the house, those days are history for the foreseeable future. But with a little advance planning (and considerably more "stuff") you can still enjoy a seaside outing. This "must bring" list should help you get the first trip organized:
- Sunscreen. First on the list because it’s something that should go on before you leave the house. Apply it thickly to every area of your baby's skin not covered by clothes or a hat, including her hands and feet. Use a sunscreen specially formulated for babies and children, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 plus UVA and UVB protection. Reapply at least every couple of hours and after she has played in water, even if it's waterproof.
- A sunshade. If your baby is younger than six months, it's best to keep her out of the sun and in the cool and shade. If you have an older baby or toddler, keep her out of the sun during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm. And since shade is at a premium on most beaches, you’ll need to bring it along with you. A 10x10 shelter, a small beach tent (great choice for napping babies or nursing mothers and a wonderful, out-of-the-blowing-sand place to change a diaper), or a beach umbrella.
- A diaper bag, or other waterproof carrier.
- A portable crib. Naps in a secure place are nice for the baby and parents.
- Baby wipes.
- A wide-brimmed hat that shades the face and neck. If baby is in the sun, you'll want to dress her in cool cotton or UVA-rated clothes that cover her legs and arms.
- Sunglasses to protect her eyes from the sun and sand.
- Diapers. Start with twice as many as you think you'll need and cut back on next time according to how many you actually used.
- Snacks in individual serving containers (so you don't have to worry about sandy hands contaminating a larger container or bag of food.
- A large cooler. In it may include formula, water for formula, baby milk, baby food, juice, and premade sandwiches and drinks for quick no fuss easy eats when you're hungry.
- A light blanket or swaddle cloth to cover baby during naptime.
- A clean outfit (or two).
- Water/sand toys if baby is old enough to play with them.
- Waterproof bags for wet/soiled items.
- A gallon of water for the primary use of cleaning sand-filled baby.
- A camera for cute baby memories at the beach.
Of course, while you're busy packing for baby, don't overlook your personal must-have list! It's been a while, but the first time we took our infant daughter to the beach, we had everything she could possibly need – and nothing but a couple of beach towels for ourselves!
What essentials can you add to the list?
Photo: Ben Radlinski