Tropic like it's hot.
We can all agree, it can be daunting thinking about going anywhere with a new baby. I sort of loved having a baby in the winter because I didn't feel fomo just staying home and hibernating with Tess. However, the down side was that I was absolutely paralyzed at the thought of going anywhere with her when it came time to travel at 3 months old. In hindsight, I almost think that having a baby in the summer helps prepare you, because you feel like you have to be out and about if its nice out. This is my longwinded way of saying that I can appreciate how hard it is to plan an outing with a young baby and the idea of bringing all of their paraphernalia to the beach, or a summer weekend away, is enough to just make you not go at all.
So, I made a list of top 10 essentials that I've used to bring Tess to the beach that I really feel will help lessen the anticipatory anxiety. After spending the month of March, at 3 months old, in Miami and the Bahamas, we're beach experts. Besides a little sunburn before she was allowed to wear sunscreen, its been a pretty flawless experience each time.
So, here's what you need (in addition to the obvious: diapers/wipes, a small cooler for bottles/food, and a straw cup of water for hydration).
1. A surface! Just because you're not indoors, doesn't mean you can't put your baby down. You also shouldn't plan on your baby being in a "structure" all day because that will only last so long and is recipe for a meltdown. Spending the day in a stroller or car seat is not gonna happen, so get one of these and make sure to cover it with an umbrella or two:
The other option for a smaller baby is this:
Use either the mat or dome as your baby's home base and napping grounds. Try to replicate their home sleep area. See this photo of Tess equipped with her halo sleep sack she sleeps with, her ocean noise machine and lovey. No one needs to do a reenactment to this extent, you don’t need a sleep sack if its hot out especially. If all else fails, just take your baby for a walk in the stroller on the boardwalk.
2. Sunscreen: Doctors advise that sunscreen is not to be used before 5-6 months old because of a potential allergic reaction, irritation concern. We originally didn't use any until 5 months old and she got slightly sunburnt at 3.5 months. So I made the judgement call to use sunscreen at that time and she was fine. Definitely make your own judgement call on when to start sunscreen. We use blue lizard on her body and the mustela stick on her face. Using a stick on the face feels less messy and easier to rub in. There's no other reason that I use two different ones, blue lizard is fine to use on the face as well! I also recently purchased Beauty Counter sunscreen and love that I can use it on us both because of how clean the ingredients are!
3. Swim Diapers/Bathing suit: use the water to your benefit. If its really hot or your baby needs a break from just laying around or gets antsy being on the beach, walk down to the ocean or pool, the breeze and/or water is a great resetting activity. You don't necessary need a swim diaper (I've put Tess in the water with a regular diaper) but they are more water durable and eventually a regular swim diaper explodes from so much water. So if you're going in for more than a dip, change your baby into the swim diaper. My favorite bathing suits are Ralph Lauren and Gap. Bring a changing pad like the one below to change diapers and clothes. Included our favorite pool raft too.
4. Ambiance tools: Sound machine like I mentioned above, for naps (if the real life sounds are too distracting, I like to have this portable sound machine to help block that out, especially when its a really challenging setting to ensure settling down) and a fan for your stroller or if your baby suddenly gets too hot and you need to make sure your baby is cool in transit to leave the heat.
5. Make sure to bring a few toys at least until they're old enough to play with the sand without eating it. These toys are fun, because why not stay on theme?
Don't inflate the beach balls all the way so that they're deflated just enough for a baby to grab (they're mini beach balls so its hard to even fill them all the way because the air comes out so fast as soon as you try to close the airway).
7. Wet bag for all the wet, dirty, etc. stuff.
9. Towel and towel cover up. This cover up is EVERYTHING. I love putting Tess in a diaper and throwing this over her after an ocean or pool dip.
10. Muslin blankets. I use these as beach blankets, extra towels or to cover her stroller en route from the car to the beach. (I like it better than the black stroller covers because its more airy).
Hope this helps make your trip to the beach a little more manageable. And remember, the beach is overwhelming, there's a ton of people, lots of colors, umbrellas, sounds, etc. Try to find a somewhat isolated area to set up shop and just recreate your "at home play space". Even an hour at the beach at first is plenty! You can build up from there. No reason to get tide down ;)