Even before we moved to Florida our family has always taken vacations to the beach. Both of my kids had their toes dipped into the Gulf of Mexico before they turned 6 months. Regardless of how old your baby or child is there are a few things to keep in mind to make your trip stress-free and fun.
What do you really need to take with you to the beach? Chances are that you and your spouse are the only ones who are going to be toting towels, sunscreen, toys, chairs, snacks, drinks, and yes…even the kids from the car to the beach. Think about everything you take and if you are “really” going to use it.
Sunscreen isn’t the only form of sun protection that you want to remember. UV shirts and hats can provide safe (chemical-free) protection from the sun and are safer than sunscreen for your wee ones. Most sunscreens aren’t recommended until your baby is about 6 months of age. Tents and umbrellas can also provide a shady place for your baby to play. Don’t forget the sunglasses too – even for the little ones. Finally, when selecting a sunscreen you may want to refer to the Environmental Working Guide’s (EWG) 2013 Guide to Sunscreens. The EWG guide has a searchable database of sunscreens that rates them based on their ingredients. PS: Higher SPFs don’t always mean it’s better or that it will last longer. Reapply those sunscreens every hour or two. Some of our favorite sunscreens include the Honest Sunscreen and Balm! Baby SUN!
Skip the mid-day hours
Start your day early before the sun is directly above you and when it is most damaging. Generally between 12-3pm the sun is the strongest and you can burn quicker. If you start the day earlier your kids will be ready for lunch and some much needed rest time. You can always return after a few hours when the sun is starting to set.
Multipurpose and Compact
When deciding on what to carry to the beach you may want to consider items that have multiple functions. A beach chair
with a backpack carrying option and pocket can help you carry more things while holding a little ones hand. A towel that is large enough to sit on so you don’t have to carry a separate blanket. A cooler on wheels with a few pockets or sections for storing different types of food and drinks. When my kids were smaller I would even pack a backpack beach cabana tent that would fold up and had several pockets for stuffing toys and snacks.
Snacks and Drinks
Keep the snacks simple and healthy. Remember that it gets really hot out so you’ll want to pack things on ice (or in a cooler) or pack snacks that don’t need to be cooled. We found crackers, apples, and GoGo Squeeze to be some of our favorite snacks. Dried fruit and beef jerky are other favorite beach snacks. Since we don’t like to use disposable bottles we pack our refillable bottles (like our Sigg Active Top aluminum bottles) with our favorite cool down drinks. Whatever you decide to take don’t forget to pick up your trash before you leave.
Toys and More
We try to keep the bag of toys pretty simple. A few buckets and shovels are usually all you need to build a great sand castle. We like the Zoe b biodegradable beach set because it’s made in the USA and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals. If you happen to leave a shovel behind it will biodegrade in 2-3 years (compared to 500 like regular plastic). Some other fun toys you could take include kits, frisbees, and balls for playing catch.
Camera, Love, and Patience
Don’t forget your camera (or iPhone) to capture a cute picture of two to remember your trip; just remember to keep it safe from sand and water. Being on the beach and seeing your kids feel sand for the first time is an amazing event. Our youngest just learned to swim earlier this spring and this was her first year where she actually enjoyed jumping waves and looking for shells. Seeing her giggle after being splashed in the face with a wave was a great feeling since last year she wouldn’t even let you hold her in the ocean. Remember that the sun wears kids out quicker than it does adults, your child may be done with the beach before you are. This is a great time to go in and take a short nap and return when everyone is well rested.
What are some of your beach essentials?
Disclosure: Affiliate links present in this post. They help to keep this blog going and may contribute to some of our families fun summer activities. Products mentioned have been personally tried by our family and are only mentioned because I truly love them. Note: Photographs in this post are the property of www.backtocalley.com and may not be copied or reused without permission.