Taking your baby on their first trip to the beach is one of the most exciting milestone moments of the first year.
There’s something about introducing your little one to the vastness of the ocean that just feels so special.
Also the sand and waves are great fun for kids of any age!
Whether you want to take your baby to the beach for their first day trip away from home or you’re planning a vacation, you probably have quite a few questions about that first beach visit with baby.
This is a guide to the practical stuff you need to think about and what to pack when heading for a beach trip with your little one.
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When can you take a baby to the beach?
Before we get to the tips for taking baby to the beach, you’re probably wondering when it’s safe to take a trip to the ocean with your little.
You can take your baby to the beach and swimming at any age!
The NHS says you do not need to wait for your baby’s first round of infant vaccinations, which typically happen at eight weeks.
You do however need to be mindful of baby’s safety in a few areas. These are: Their safety in the water, their temperature in the water, and exposure to the sun.
New babies cannot regulate their temperature in the same way as adults. And so while a quick dip in the cold ocean may feel amazing to you, for a baby they can get very cold very quickly.
The solution is to wrap baby up in a thermal wetsuit or swimsuit (you may find a two-piece easier to get on and off). You should also only put them into the water for a very short period of time, say 10 minutes or less if they begin to shiver. Have a towel on hand close by to wrap them up and get them warm quickly.
You should keep hold of your baby at all times when close to, or in the water. If your baby has started crawling or rolling then you will need to be extra vigilant.
Consider getting a pop-up play pen that you can easily travel with so that you can keep your baby safe.
Now that we’ve touched on a couple of practical areas, let’s get on to the tips!
Essentials for baby’s first trip to the beach
Be aware of baby’s temperature
Baby’s can’t regulate their temperature in the early months and so they’re at risk of getting too hot or too cold at the beach.
Your baby can be taken into the water at any age. However the ocean is pretty cold even on the hottest of days so don’t keep them in the water for long and wrap them up in a thermal wetsuit.
Be careful your baby doesn’t overheat by avoiding spending too much time in the sun, especially in tropical locations at times when the sun is at its highest.
Pick a sensible spot
When choosing where on the beach to set up your blankets and parasol, choose a place that’s safe.
This is especially important if you’re planning to go for a swim. Choose a place that’s overseen by a lifeguard and/or where there are flags indicating the water is safe.
You need to be very careful about the moving tides and riptides, so do your research before you visit a beach and be sure to only swim between flags indicating where its safe.
Be safe in the water
When take your baby into the water, be extra cautious. Make sure they are wearing a bathing suit that makes it easier to grip onto them.
A baby in just a nappy may be slippery when wet. To reduce the risk, have them in some clothing, preferably swim clothing, that is easy to grip onto.
With a newborn baby, keep them close to you at all times.
For an older baby, who is able to hold up their own head, you could try a baby swim float, such as this cool little seat.
Always have a hold of your baby however, even if you have only paddled out a very short way. Never let them drift away from you as currents can be so unpredictable.
Make sure you have shade
A day by the beach may involve sun bathing for you, but you should keep your baby out of direct sunlight to protect their delicate skin.
Your baby is still at risk from the sun’s rays in the shade on a hot day, so always put suncream on them even if they are under cover for the entire day.
To create shade for your family on the beach you could bring a parasol or use a small UV-safe tent.
The great thing about a tent is that you can create a safe little play space for your baby in there with a few toys.
Stock up on baby-safe sun cream
Baby skin is incredibly delicate and so you will need some baby-safe sun cream to keep baby’s skin safe from the sun.
When shopping for suncream choose something with a high SPF. Go for an SPF of 50 if you are going to a tropical place and a minimum of 30 elsewhere.
While the SPF is important, it’s also a good idea to look at the UVA rating which indicates how good the protection is against UV rays from the sun. You want a minimum of four stars in this area.
Babies with eczema may need a ultra sensitive sunscreen so shop around and try different products if your baby’s skin does react. Speak to you doctor if you are struggling to find a suncream that doesn’t irritate your baby’s skin.
My youngest daughter has had eczema since birth and she is always fine with normal child sunscreen. However I always make sure I wash it off and moisturise her thoroughly at the end of every day.
There are lots of tips for choosing the best baby sunscreen on this post.
Cover up their skin
Sunscreen is important but the best thing to protect your baby’s skin is to cover it with long sleeves and legs.
This may not seem like the best thing to do at the beach on a hot day, but it will be the most reliable way to protect them from burning.
Go for light, cotton layers and a sun hat to keep the sun from their face and scalp. You can even get baby sunglasses to help protect their eyes, although it’s doubtful they will be able to resist pulling them off!
When it comes to going in the water, you can get baby wetsuits that aren’t too heavy and provide UV protection from the sun’s rays.
Keep a sand-free bag of supplies in the car
Sand gets everywhere! After a day at the beach you may struggle to find any item of clothing that doesn’t have sand in it, as well as sandy towels.
If you have driven to the beach, then try keeping a bag with changes of clothes and spare towels in the car.
That way you can change into these and rest assured the bag won’t have filled with sand while you were enjoying your day at the beach.
Remember a waterproof nappy
If you are going to head into the water then a waterproof nappy is essential.
You can disposable ones but the reusable ones are much better for the environment.
Remember to bring some nappy bags to put the dirty nappies in once you are finished for the day.
Offer extra feeds
A day on a hot beach will leave you wanting extra water, and it’s the same for your baby. You may find they are more thirsty than usual.
Bring extra milk feeds in your cool bag or offer additional breastfeeds throughout the day.
If your baby is over six months and enjoying solid foods, try taking a few snacks with you. Simple things like carrot sticks and hummus or cold pasta in tomato sauce can work well.
You could also offer a weaning baby a drink of water which you can keep cool in an insulated picnic bag.
Keep baby cool
Take a small portable fan to provide a cooling breeze for your baby.
You can also try bringing a small spray bottle of water which you can mist on your baby’s skin before turning the fan on them. It’s like having their own air conditioning which is perfect on really hot days.
Ditch the buggy for a carrier
Trying to push a buggy across a sandy beach is a challenge!
Instead of a buggy take your infant carrier with you. If you don’t have one already, a simple cloth carrier is cheap and absolutely great for short journeys.
You may find the carrier useful throughout the day at the beach if your baby wants to bed held a lot for nap time.
Bring lots of blankets
Depending on what stage your baby is at, they may be rolling quite some distance or even crawling. Plus babies won’t be able to resist grabbing a fistful of sand and seeing what it tastes like!
Try to keep them from eating the sand or rolling onto hot patches of sand by placing a lot of blankets down.
A small tent as described above can be great for providing a safe spot for baby to roll and crawl around in.
Create a spot for naps
At some point your baby will need a nap, so have a think about what will work best for them.
The UV tent is a great spot for baby to have a snooze. You could bring a small portable baby lounger (which is basically a mini-bed with padded sides) for them to sleep in.
Be sure to monitor the temperature inside the tent so they don’t overheat when they are sleeping.
If you can’t take a tent with you to the beach, then your baby may nap OK inside an infant carrier while being held by you.
If you’re worried you may still struggle with getting baby to take a nap on the beach, then time your trip around their nap so that you get in the car just as its time for baby’s next nap.
Final thoughts on baby’s first trip to the beach
I hope this has given you an idea of how to survive baby’s first visit to the beach!
Above all things, remember to keep baby safe around water and to keep an eye on their temperature so that they do not overheat.
Have fun and remember to take a ton of pictures!