Remember back in your pre-kid days when going to the beach meant throwing a towel, a trashy book, and a couple of
beers sodas in your bag and walking out the door?
Ah, simpler times…
Although throwing a baby into the mix definitely changes the beach-going process, it really doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It just takes a little more careful planning, and a little extra cargo.
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1. Create a kiddie “pool” in the sand
You know when you read an idea and it’s so genius you think to yourself “why didn’t I think of that?”…Well this is one of those ideas. (And sadly, I did not think of it myself…) Grab a super cheap shower curtain liner to create a little pool in the sand so the littlest beach goers have a smaller “lake” or “ocean” to splash in.
Ours wasn’t necessarily “picture perfect”, but here are some things that we would do differently next time.
-Dig straight down so the sides of the pool are vertical instead of a gradual slope.
-Dig a second trench around the perimeter of the pool and bury the edges of the curtain in sand. This helps keep the curtain from being pulled in.
-If you can, bring something a little larger than the typical “sand shovel”…the process will go a little faster.
2. Bring your own source of shade
We don’t live near the ocean, so we’re generally going to the lake when we go to the beach. Because of this, there are trees up off the shore that we can use to take shelter from the hot sun. However, good luck trying to tell kids they have to go sit in the grass to take a break from the sun.
Bring an easy-up canopy like this one or a pop up sun shade like this one. Large beach umbrellas are nice for one or two people, but they don’t offer much room beyond that. Once everyone starts getting hot, sweaty and cranky, you’re not going to want to have battles over the shade…so one of the larger canopies will make everyone happy.
3. Apply sunscreen before you arrive
Once the tiny humans have been unleashed from their carseats and are running toward the sand, good luck trying to slather sunscreen on their wriggly bodies. Apply the first coat of sunscreen (we like Babyganics) before you leave your house and then you’ll just have to capture them for reapplications. (Take advantage of lunch or snack time when they’re sitting down and focused on food.)
4. Use sun protective clothing
Reagan has gingery hair and skin the color of snow…she needs all the protection she can get when it comes to the sun. Her bathing suit top is a long sleeved rash guard with UV protection. Not only will this offer an additional layer of protection, but it will also reduce the surface area that you need to cover in the previously mentioned sunscreen reapplications.
5. Bring a folding booster chair
We got this folding travel booster seat at our baby shower and I have to say, while we were in the infant stage, it stayed in the box. But since then, it has come in SO handy. It folds up into a bag just like those camp chairs everyone has. It’s great for any place that might not have a highchair, or for counters that might be too high for a traditional high chair.
*Side story: We have used this chair a number of times at one of our favorite restaurants at which we just happen to enjoy sitting at the bar. It is a family friendly restaurant, it is not specifically a bar. One night, a few people came up the stairs and happened to see Reagan sitting in her chair eating dinner, and not realizing I could plainly hear them, commented “Seriously? A baby at a bar?”. To which I turned around and said loudly, “I know, isn’t this chair so awesome?!” and they smiled awkwardly, realizing they’d been overheard and continued to a table….Move along and don’t judge my parenting, people…it’s not like I had her in a nightclub.
I digress…My point is, this chair is great! When you’re at the beach and your only options are a blanket or a picnic table, it’s nice to have a spot to buckle your toddler in when it comes to lunch time and reduce a bit of the sand to food ratio.
6. Pack baby powder in your beach bag!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me talk about this beach hack before. This is probably my favorite trick for removing sand from skin, whether you have kids or not. If your toddler’s hands, feet, legs, (buns!) etc. are covered in sticky sand, sprinkle baby powder over the area and the sand will brush right off! It’s like magic, I swear!
7. Use a mesh laundry bin for toys
Have you ever headed home after a day at the beach and felt like you brought half the beach home in your car? Throw all the sandy shovels and pails in a mesh laundry bin and shake all the excess sand right out before you head to the parking lot.
8. Bring an open mind.
As I mentioned, going to the beach with toddlers is a different animal than going alone. It can be a scary experience for a young child, so try to just take their cues and do what they are comfortable with. We went to the beach on what turned out to be a super windy day, so the waves were surprisingly large. They made Reagan really nervous, so the shower curtain pool turned out to be the perfect way for her to enjoy the water on her terms. Be prepared for a day of fun and memories, go with the flow, and be prepared for your babe to probably eat some sand… 🙂