What to know when taking the baby to the beach
To make this a memorable moment, know what to pack and what to do before putting your feet in the sand
If you used to spend all day at the beach, tanning under the scorching sun, now with a baby you’ll have to let go of old habits. This is because the baby’s more fragile and thinner skin isn’t fully ready for such intense solar exposure the same way adult skin is, plus, they tend to become dehydrated more easily than adults.
But, with some preventative steps and extra care, you can enjoy some of the best moments as a family. Put aside a big bag – since now the amount of things you’ll have to bring has increased significantly – along with your best camera and have a good trip!
At what age can I start bringing my child to the beach?
Pediatricians aren’t too specific on when exactly you can start taking your baby to the beach. Some recommend you wait until after they turn one. Others, on the other hand, say that it’s fine after six months, when some kinds of sunscreen are already permitted for the baby. Yet, some experts advise people to avoid using chemicals on the baby’s skin if the baby doesn’t walk on their own yet, using clothes to protect the skin instead – cotton, long-sleeve shirts or proper beach attire and a hat. What is important to note is that babies cannot be directly exposed to the sun: they need to be in the shade. After they turn one, pediatricians say babies can already go in the ocean, but in the proper conditions, ok?
Truth is, it all depends on how you choose to face this experience: if you’re willing to respect the recommended exposure time, if the baby is adequately protected and in the shade, if you don’t plan on staying on the sand for too long, if the beach has clean waters, etc. When they still can’t walk it’s easier to control their exposure to the sun and you can even relax a little in your chair.
But the moment they begin walking and leave the shade, it’s worth doubling down on the protection from the sun (clothes and sunscreen, preferably), and keep an eye out to prevent them from getting lost – since kids tend to disappear in the blink of an eye – as well as to limit their time alone in the water. Having someone with you would can help you look out for the baby gives everyone a chance to enjoy the beach. Check out some preventative tips and have fun!
14 things to watch out for when hitting the coast
- No children should be at the beach between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., even if protected in the shade, since the sand and water reflect the sun rays.
- Use sunscreen with solar protection above 30 SPF. Babies younger than 6 months cannot use any form of sunscreen.
- Babies and young children should preferably stay in the shade. For the older ones, exposure to the sun should not exceed 30 consecutive minutes.
- Apply sunscreen on your children at home, before hitting the beach, while they’re naked so you can ensure you’ve covered all the necessary spots.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours at least. Opt for creams and lotions over spray and gel.
- Cotton shirts are great to protect against the sun, working as a barrier for ultraviolet rays. There are also options specific for the beach, with protection.
- Hats or baseball caps always. Some are longer in the back and protect the neck as well as the ears and head.
- Have the child wear a bracelet with their name and the contact for those responsible for them. Even so, plan a meeting spot in case they get lost – if, of course, they are able to comprehend that.
- If your child bathed in the ocean, it’s important not to let them sit in their wet clothes for too long, to avoid any fungus from forming. Dry and change your child.
- It’s best to keep the diaper usage at the beach at a minimum, as the heat can cause allergies. In the inflatable pool, they can sit without diapers. But, if you’re opting for swim diapers, remember they only protect against poop leaks.
- No inflatable floating device is safe in the ocean, not even arm floaties, as the waves and the current can sweep kids deeper into the ocean. Remember: an adult should always accompany the little ones in the water, and, for safety, lifeguards recommend kids not go any further than waist level in the water.
- Take something the baby can lay down in, in case they take a nap at the beach: a towel, a beach blanket or even the inflatable pool, covered with a towel.
- Offer your child plenty of liquids: water, coconut water or maternal milk (juice only for those 1 year or older) , at least every half hour.
- Don’t buy any food at the beach you deem hygienically questionable. Always take a little snack from home in a thermal grocery bag or cooler (see below).
What to take in your beach bag:
- Inflatable pool: This is a baby’s best friend at the beach. You can put them in the shade and fill them with sink/hose water (babies put everything in their mouths, so potable water is a better choice than ocean water, which also reduces the chances of contamination). The inflatable pool prevents the baby from being in direct contact with the sand by putting it in their mouth – they’ll do that, sooner or later, and it’s fine, no need to panic. Besides, the baby will be able to sit without a diaper, which is great in the hot weather.
- Hat or baseball cap
- Children’s sunglasses
- Sunscreen with 30 FPS or higher
- Mosquito repellent (apply after the sunscreen)
- Robe or beach-friendly attire
- Cotton nappy (in case you need to clean anything up)
- Extra change of clothes
- Sandals to protect from hot sand
- Diapers, wet wipes, a changing table and rash cream
- A cloth or beach blanket to lay on the sand
- Beach umbrella
- Beach toys
- Money in case you need to buy anything at the beach
In the cooler/thermal bag:
- Water (not only for drinking but also to clean any sand from the eyes, hands, etc.), coconut water and juice
- Fruits: grapes, banana, apples, plums or peaches
- Natural snacks: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or cut up cucumbers
- Natural/healthy sandwiches and bread