Tips for Taking Your Baby to the Beach

Posted Travel Tips by Keryn Means on January 15, 2015

Just know that when you take your baby to the beach, sand will be everywhere.

I had a baby who was barely crawling, a beautiful beach in front of me and no idea what to do. The baby wanted to stay in the shade. I wanted to dip my toes in the water just a few feet from our blanket. I knew my son would fall asleep soon.

Would I be stuck under a tree for a few hours, or would I be able to sneak in some water time? What about when he woke up? Would he even want to be in the sand and in the water? We would soon find out.

Taking a baby to the beach is no small task. What seems like a very simple outing can turn into extra bags, gear, sand in the mouth, and an endless amount of baby carrying. You may think this will put a damper on your tropical getaway, but it doesn’t have to. With a little bit of planning you can cut down on the baggage, enjoy the sun and surf, and even avoid a fistful of sand going into your baby’s mouth.

Leave the gear, take the baby

taking your baby to the beach - sand in the mouth
Photo Courtesy of Keryn Means

You don’t need strollers, pack n’ plays, tents, massive beach blankets, etc. You don’t need a lot to take a baby to the beach. You need food, diapers and a towel for sure. If you plan on spending the day, make sure there’s a safe place, like your infant car seat, to put the baby down while he sleeps. You don’t need to set up an army base just to enjoy a day in the sun though. Worst-case scenario one parent has to run back to grab something you forgot. It’s not the end of the world. However, if you want to get creative, you can pack a few unconventional (and small) items to take with you on your next beach adventure.

Pack the pool

taking your baby to the beach - inflatable pool
Photo Courtesy of Keryn Means

This may sound strange, but pack a small inflatable pool in your car when you’re taking your baby to the beach. For under $20, a simple pool can act as a playpen, bed or simply corral your little one. They are small and compact enough to tote around, plus they’re so cheap you can just thrift it after your family vacation. Line the pool with blankets, pop an umbrella over it to create some shade and let your baby kick and wiggle as much as he or she likes. This is not an excuse to leave the baby on the beach while you swim or snorkel though. Like all things, when it comes to your infant, you need to be on alert for choking hazards and the sudden ability to climb or crawl out of things. It can happen when you least expect. What the pool does is create a safe, sand-free spot to put the baby down while you build a sand castle with your other children or read a book for a bit while the baby eats his toes.

Umbrellas of any shape or size

The best thing about babies is that they’re small. Even a rain umbrella can create shade at the beach. Just make sure it’s a light color so you don’t bake your infant under a black umbrella. Hook it onto your stroller, chair or car seat to provide just enough shade for your sleeping baby or when the sun starts to burn that baby skin. And if your staying at a kid-friendly resort, you may be able to borrow or rent one for the day.

Water-resistant beach blanket

JJ Cole and a few other brands make a great fold up picnic blanket that is perfect for taking a baby to the beach. You can easily shake off sand and it folds up quickly if showers roll in or you need to head back to your kid-friendly resort for the day.

Sand in the mouth

Many parents are terrified that their baby will get sand in their mouth and on their hands or toes. Yes, this can and probably will happen. You’re at the beach and sand is bound to get in your baby's mouth. You can try to prevent your baby from eating the sand by holding him the entire time or keeping him strapped in a carseat or stroller, but is anyone actually having any fun? Probably not. Set up an inflatable pool (see above gear tip), or break out your waterproof beach blanket to make a safe place for baby to play or just jump right into the water and let the baby squish his toes in the sand. When parents are having fun, so is baby. If your baby does get a fist full of sand and take a bite, make sure you push a few extra liquids for the rest of the day. Sadly that sand is going to come back out again and it may not be comfortable.

Get wet and wild on a baby beach

taking your baby to the beach - play with dad
Photo Courtesy of Keryn Means

Babies naturally love the water and is it any wonder. They’ve been swimming around in it for 9 months as they grow and wait to meet you. Find a kid-friendly resort with a calm beach to take your baby with no waves or strong currents to set up and let your future Olympian get his feet wet. Show him how to splash, kick and explore the water. There are so many textures that are new to him in the ocean, sand, rocks, seaweed. Those baby gurgles and smiles will light up your day.

Taking your baby to the beach doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. It can be lots of fun, filled with a bit of adventure and new discoveries for both you and your baby (who knew starfish were so fascinating!) Head to the beach prepared, but know that as long as your baby has you, he will be just fine. We’ve enjoyed many trips to the beach with both of our boys as infants and toddlers. There is always something new to learn and explore together. And yes, there is always more sand that comes home with us than you would think is on the beach.


For more family travel advice by Keryn Means check out her blog Walking on Travels