What you need for a baby at the beach and practical tips to keep everyone happy and safe on your first beach vacation with little ones! Updated 2021.
A beach vacation can be a wonderful first trip with baby.
The good weather means lighter packing, the option of long walks, plenty of fresh food for mom and the beach itself can be a lovely place for baby, with all the sensory stimulation that comes from the sand, water and sun.
However, the beach also poses some challenges: having baby at the beach means making sure they don’t get excessive sun, they stay water safe and don’t get excessively hot, and you may also need to get some special baby beach gear to help you.
We go to the beach whenever we can: whether you are going for a winter sun vacation with kids, packing for a family beach vacation or even just need help packing for a day on the beach with baby, these tips may come in handy!
Please note: as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Baby beach trip tips to keep them happy and safe
Protect them from the sun with baby sunscreen
I have a dark, Italian complexion and the sun has always been my friend.
However, my kids have delicate skin and I myself, after the long Irish winter, felt the need to protect myself with a higher sunscreen factor than in the past.
I usually invest in good quality, non-oily creams.
Apply them before you leave the house and keep applying them regularly during the course of the day.
Make sure you don’t only use them when you are directly in the sun but also in the shade of the umbrella or if you are in a beach hut etc.
While the sun rays may not reach you directly, they are usually not entirely screened and can still cause damage.
With kids, I use specific kids brands and they are usually more water resistant than adult creams, contain fewer chemicals and no artificial perfumes.
Need to know! Do not use old sun creams: while still possibly strong as a hydrating cream, apparently the protection factor doesn’t last. (Ok, this may be a clever marketing lie to get you to buy more but this is what I read and prefer to be safe!)
Get a baby beach tent – best tip to shade baby at the beach
Baby sunscreen is a must-have but it is not enough to keep a baby sun safe on the beach.
To protect them even more from the sun, I recommend you invest in a baby beach tent.
Good ones offer shade, UV protection and you can also get those that come with a little pool inside, so you can get your baby to cool down without having to go yourself into the water every time.
You can pick one that is just for them if you have your own umbrella or you can get bigger, family beach tents that protect you too.
They are perfect especially if you are planning a day on the beach with your own umbrellas and chairs and may even make your packing a lot lighter!
Yu can find our selection of our favorite sun tents for babies here.
Make sure they have a sun hat and sun shades
While on the beach, always get your baby to wear a hat and give them sun shades too.
Those specifically for baby have very soft head bands that allow them to stay un place without tugging or causing discomfort around their skill
Create a play area
An easy to implement idea for fun times for baby at the beach is to create a little playpen for them.
You can do it easily with a sheet: much softer than a beach towel, easy to carry and clean and just perfect for any time your baby is dry.
Go to the beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon
The first time I found myself at the beach early in the morning, thanks to 2 non-sleeping kids, a new world opened up to me.
A world of almost empty beaches, gentle breeze and space: to lay your towel, to open your umbrella, even to think!
Traveling in the high season and to popular European destinations such as Mallorca (Spain) or the Etruscan Coast in Tuscany (Italy) means that the best spots on the beach are often taken by the late morning and you may find yourself stuck at the back of the beach.
Going early means you can pick your place, the kids can run around without kicking sand on your beach neighbors and they also have more time to get tired, making a mid-afternoon nap more likely.
The same happens if you go late in the afternoons: if you can stretch dinner to a slightly later hour, you can have a brilliant time at the beach just before sunset.
The view is fantastic, the atmosphere peaceful and the water usually warmer too.
An added advantage of bringing baby to the beach early or late in the day is that the sun is not as strong: one less safety concern to deal with!
Pick the right spot
Going back to my previous point about picking the right spot, I have learnt to pay attention to the lay of the beach before setting my ‘home’ for the day.
Ocean beaches terrify me (I am very much a Mediterranean girl) so in those cases, a place near a lifeguard is paramount for me.
In calmer waters, I still pay attention to how deep the water is (sometimes it changes significantly in the space of a few hundred meters) and if there are watersports nearby. I avoid being anywhere with too many surfboards or water games unless my kids can partake in them as this is where injuries happen easily.
Bring a spray bottle
An easy way to keep baby at the beach cool is spraying them with water.
My babies always thought it was hilarious and I used to get that irresistible baby giggle every time the spray went off!
I always bring tap water from home to avoid having to turn to salt water (too drying for their skin) or local showers
Bring beach appropriate snacks
If you are weaning or have a baby who already eat solids of any form, then snacks are a beach must have.
We always opted for plain baby snacks like baby rice cakes and loaded up with hydration food such as fruit, fruit pouches and of course plenty of water.
If you have older kids or even for yourself, you can find lots of ideas for beach friendly snacks here.
Invest in a good cooler bag – baby at the beach essential
I was never one for cooler bags before my children came along but a good cooler bag for snacks and maybe even cooler for pumped breast milk can come in super handy.
Find here a nice selection of beach coolers, with wheels or without
Consider a baby beach carrier
Strollers are not ideal on the beach unless you have an all terrain stroller that can take the sand.
A better alternative or a good extra piece of gear to have to keep your baby at the beach safe is a water baby carrier, made for hot weather and even enter the water safely with your baby.
Consider carefully if you need a stroller for the day
Strollers and sand are a terrible match however, it can be handy to have one with you, especially if you cannot walk to the beach from home.
As a general rule, I find that strollers with small wheels are more a hindrance than a help on the sand while good beach strollers with all-terrain wheels are useful as extra help to carry your stuff or bring a tired baby back to the car.
Bring lots of swimming diapers
Whether your baby is going into the ocean with you or splashing in its private baby pool, you need goo swim diapers.
Always bring more than you think you will need so you can be sure they don’t have a soggy diapers on their skin any longer than strictly necessary
Leave the diaper bag at home – get a sensible beach bag insted
This may seem at odds with the previous tip but it isn’t! While you will definitely need a diaper bag for the beach, you do not want your precious diaper bag to get full of sand.
Because of this, I recommend having an easy-to-wash diaper bag for the day or even just a canvas bag or folding bag with your baby at the beach necessities.
Find here some beach bags for moms I like.
Load up on trash bags
Dpaiers, wipes, fruit pouches: unfortunately, a day at the beach with baby comes with a lot of trash. Make sure you bring it with you when leaving using trash bags you can pack as you go and easily throw out.
Don’t break the bank on beach toys
Beach toys are important with older toddlers but with a first trip to the beach you really do not need much and you surely do not need to spend much at all.
A bucket, spade, sand toys cups for pouring sand in and out are more than enough to keep baby busy and happy and will be plenty of sensory stimulation.
Consider a baby bassinet for nap time – baby beach trip hack!
A cool item you may want with you on the beach is a baby bassinet: they are little pods that offer protection from sun and insects and work perfectly as occasional baby beds on travel and at grandmas house too!
They are one of my favorite baby travel essentials, as versatile on the go and on the beach.
Bring a mash bag
San is one of the great things about the beach and one of the most annoying!
A large mash bag is an inexpensive item you can carry with you to move sandy toys and gear and limit the amount of sand you bring back to your car and house!
Bringing baby on a beach vacation? Choose the right accommodation
If you are not going to the beach just for the day but you are planning a full family beach vacation, make sure you pay extra attention to the accommodation you pick.
The beach is tiring for adults and even more for kids so after a day of activities having somewhere comfortable and convenient to rest is crucial to make the next day (and more importantly, the night!) easy.
For beach holidays, I am fond of villas as they give you more privacy and space than hotels.
I am an advocate for self-catering accommodation too: as much as I like eating out, I find it difficult (and expensive) to keep it up for days on end and I like to have control over the food the kids have.
Get the balance right
I have never been one for long days at the beach.
My favorite way to spend time on a sun holiday is to mix beach time, pool time, sightseeing and home time: this when I am alone and even more with the kids.
It is always a bit of a fight to take them away from the sand but I do find that the mood improves if we mix and match what we do.
We start with a morning on the beach (sand time and water time), then we usually treat ourselves to lunch out, spend a few hours in the shade in the house and then go for a walk or a local park.
This way, we don’t overdo the sun exposure and get a holiday that makes both us and the kids feel like we are on break.
I hope you found these tips for a say day with baby at the beach handy. Happy day out!
Baby at the beach tips image for Pinterest