Last month, my husband and I took our baby to the beach for the first time. Almost every summer of my life, my family has spent a week on the Gulf Coast, usually in the Orange Beach/Pensacola area. We rent a condo and spend the week relaxing, swimming, reading, cooking, going out for dinner, and shopping at the outlet mall. It is a week that everyone looks forward to, and this year was particularly exciting because we brought along a new addition: our four month old son, William.
I was very, very nervous about taking him. He had never slept anywhere but our house and I didn’t know how he would adjust. He had also been going through a bit of a fussy period. I worried that he may find the new environment unsettling and spend the week screaming and crying. But actually, the opposite was true. He quickly adjusted to the condo and we had a wonderful week with him. And actually, since we got back he has been much more easygoing and easier to take places. I think the trip taught him to be a little more flexible.
When prepping for the trip, I posted on Facebook and asked for advice about babies at the beach, and I also grilled my mom friends for their tips. If you are preparing to bring a baby to the beach this summer, here are a few of the things we did that worked for us. Some of them probably seem pretty obvious, but I found lists like this helpful when I was preparing.
1. Bring a tent! Shade is a big issue for babies. They need to be covered as much as possible to protect their sensitive skin. Also, unless you want to troop back up to the hotel/house/condo for every nap, the tent is great for sleeping babies. We bought a small camping tent on Amazon and set it up every morning. William did great napping in it and it gave us some time on the beach to relax. I also nursed him in it – it provided enough privacy so I didn’t have to cover up in the heat or take him upstairs every time he needed to eat.
2. Cover your baby! Continuing from the previous tip, we dressed William swim trunks, a hat, sunglasses, and a rash guard every day. I was worried about him overheating in all of that, but he stayed pretty cool and we took him inside during the hottest part of the day (from around 10:30 to 3:00).
3. Use swim diapers. You can take your baby for a quick dip in the ocean or the pool without worrying about a giant blown-up diaper.
4. Bring a Pack n’ Play for sleep. My biggest concern was William’s sleeping. He has slept in his crib, in his own room, since day one, but he really slept just as well in the Pack n’ Play, in our bedroom, as he does at home. One thing that helped was bringing his sound machine, which he sleeps with every night at home.
5. When in doubt, bring it. I’m famous in my family for being a terrible packer. I went to the beach one summer as a kid without my bathing suit. I forget to bring a coat when we go somewhere cold. I leave my toothbrush at home. But I was determined to have everything my son needed to have as pleasant a trip as possible, and one thing that I was so relieved we brought was his play gym, which he loves at home. He spent a lot of time playing on it and it helped when we were in the condo for hours in the middle of the day with not much to do. So bring whatever toys, comfort items, equipment that your baby may need to feel more comfortable (within reason, obviously).
So those are just a few pieces of advice that will hopefully help make your trip to the beach a little easier. What is your beach baby must-have?