4 Tips for Making Your Kids Safe & Happy at the Beach
Packing for the beach with kids in tow can be a daunting task, especially if one of them is a baby. Fear not! Although it may take some time and organization to prepare for your trip, the rewards from a fun day in the sun, far outweigh the hassle. The following are a few tips to keep your baby engaged and safe at the seashore.
1. What to Wear
Neon is your new best friend. Dressing your child in bright colors is the first rule of baby beach attire. In order to watch them, you have to be able to spot them. There are several items to dress your baby in, and bring with you to the beach.
Swimwear with UV protection
A child's skin is very susceptible to sun damage. A swimsuit should contain 50+ UPF material, and come equipped with rash guards. It's always a good idea to bring a few changes, as babies hate jumping into a cold, wet suit.
Children can lose heat quickly once they get out of the water. Bring a change of long sleeved t-shirts, pants, and socks, to ensure they are staying dry and warm.
Gel packs in regular diapers can explode when saturated. That's why they make special diapers for swimming. These diapers are reusable and designed not to swell in water.
Hat and Sunglasses
A hat is one of the most important clothing items to bring, because it protects your child's face from the sun. It should be wide brimmed and cover the neck. Even babies need cool sunglasses too! Make sure you shield their eyes with a pair at all times, preferably polarized for extra protection.
Beach or jelly shoes will protect the little one's feet from hot sand and sharp rocks in the water.
*Note: Some parents also bring a wet bag, which allows you to store soaking wet clothes, without any leaks.
2. Fun in the Sun
One of the best ways to entertain your kids at the beach, is to dig a hole. Although this may sound silly, mom's swear by this method. Digging a pit about 8 inches deep and a few feet wide, creates an "instant playpen." Of course you still have to keep a watchful eye, but it keeps the baby from wandering.
Some parents even bring a disposable shower curtain, so they can fill the hole with a little sea water. They also make baby tents, with attached kiddie pools, if you want to skip the digging.
Toys are always necessary for a beach day. To stimulate your baby, pack ocean-themed toys that represent the experience. Many parents also take their baby's play mat along for comfort, so they can snuggle down under the umbrella and nap. Other parents have suggested bringing along a raised foam chair for your baby, that keeps them dry and stationary for snack time.
3. Safety First
The number one element to any trip with your children, is safety. A recent study by SkinCancer.org found that 1/3 of parents were overexposing their babies to the sun, while 12% reported a tan or burn in children less than 6 months old. Babies in that age range should never be in direct sunlight. Older children should refrain from direct exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.). The following are some items to help you and your baby stay safe at the beach:
Babies under 6 months of age should not wear sunscreen at all. Older babies and children should be coated with a hypoallergenic children's sun block with an SPF of at least 15 (although the higher, the better). Always apply sunscreen prior to going outside. It is best practice to make sunscreen the first thing to put on the baby, before even getting them dressed.
Try to pick a spot away from sand dunes, and other areas that would attract insects. Never put bug spray on babies under 2 months because of the chemical compounds, and check the label for older kids.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should never put on anything with a DEET content higher than 30%. Repellant should always be sprayed away from food, and applied avoiding the mouth and eyes.
It not only keeps your child dry and rash free, it can also keep the uncomfortable sand from sticking to their delicate skin. Cornstarch is recommended over baby power, because the fumes from talcum can be bad for children.
Never forget your shade for the sun. Always pick a spot far enough away from the water's edge, that you won't have to re-stake your umbrella when the tide comes in. You can also bring a sun tent for the baby to lie in, but line it with towels, to keep the interior cool.
4. Time to Eat
Where your child is in their food cycle, will dictate what you pack for snacks. One key thing to remember is hydration, for both mother and child. Bring the sippy cup if your child is at that age, and keep it filled with plenty of electrolytes.
If you are breastfeeding, the solution is fairly simple. Find a cool and quiet place to nourish your baby. For moms who are formula-feeding, you can pre-make the formula at home, and carry it in an insulated diaper bag.
If your baby is on solids, snack time can get a little trickier. Make sure the child is placed on a towel and sheltered, while you hand them one snack at a time. If you give them the whole lunch box or container, there will be sand in it within seconds. For snack choices, keep in mind small portions and finger food. Rice cakes, cooked carrot sticks, and bananas are all great options.
*Note: Food should never be left out for more than two hours. If the temperature exceeds 38ºC, that window shortens to just one hour.
With so many things going on, it can be difficult remembering everything you need to do and remember when you head to the beach with your little one.
Which of these baby beach tips is your favorite? Do you know of any others that we should know about?
I’d love to hear any suggestions you’re willing to share in the comments below! 🙂