Being a Mom is about the Firsts – Baby’s first bath, Baby’s first tooth, Baby’s first haircut and the list continues with loving parents there to capture it all on camera. The first time your little one sees the ocean is definitely list-worthy and can be a fun, memorable experience for everyone. How fun and memorable depends on many factors, including how well you prep and pack for the occasion. To ensure that the odds are stacked in your favor, we’ve compiled some reminders for Baby’s First Beach Trip!
- Sun Protection: Your baby’s precious skin is extremely delicate so being ready for the sun involves more than slapping on a little lotion. Dress your child in protective gear such as SPF bathing suits or rash guards. A sun hat as well as eye protection is also important. If your child will wear sunglasses, great, but for those babies who just want to take them on and off, think about a product that includes an elastic strap for the sunglasses. An umbrella, baby cabana or shade tent is also good beach gear, especially, for those moments when you want to give your child a break from the sun. Sunscreen isn’t recommended for babies younger than 6 months, so you’ll want to be especially careful with infants, keeping them well covered in comfortable, cool clothing and out of the sun. For children over 6 months, you want to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a strong SPF, specific to children and babies (sunscreen for babies). When applying sunscreen, do it before you get onto the beach (preferably before you put on their bathing suit so you cover all areas) and then continually reapply. A good rule of thumb is to avoid the hottest parts of the day, between 11 am – 3pm. You might plan to arrive at the beach early, enjoy a few hours, and then head in for lunch, naps and some cool down time. At first glance, it may seem like a lot of prep work but protecting your baby’s skin is more than worth it!
- Hydration: We’re not talking about taking a dip in the ocean but ensuring that your baby is well hydrated when in the sun. If your child is 6 months or younger, opt for formula or breastmilk rather than water as their hydration source. For babies older than six months, bring plenty of bottled water to the beach with you. Over all, the rule of thumb is that a child should have 50% more hydration in the heat than normal. When at the beach, be sure your child is taking more bottles, nursing more often or having frequent water bottles (Parents.com). Just in case, be aware of the signs of overheating such as increased fussiness, hot, flushed skin or parched lips. Call your doctor if you’re concerned about heat stroke – and take your baby into the shade (fitpregnancy.com).
- Entertainment: Even at this young age, your baby is going to want something to do at the beach. Sand toys are an absolute must (remember that your little one may not even be ready to go anywhere near the actual ocean). Introduce your baby to the wonders of sandcastles and digging, moats and tunnels. You might lose a few toys as they drift out with a wave, so there’s no such thing as too many. Include a mesh bag to easily rinse and carry everything because as a Mom, you know your hands will be full! Also remember that the beach is a plethora of sensory moments so let your baby experience it. The sound of the waves, the grittiness of the sand, the call of a seagull, the chill of a wave, the feel of a seashell. While you won’t want to take him bodyboarding just yet, let him touch the sand, put some chubby toes in the sand or feel you jump over a current as you’re holding him securely. And please, while the sun and surf may not be the best for phones or cameras, try to capture what you can!
- Wardrobe: We’ve mentioned protective sun gear, but you would be wise to throw in a change of clothes (as well as some extra diapers and swim diapers) and a few fluffy beach towels, just for Baby. When your little one has had enough, be sure to get him out of his wet clothes and diaper and into a fresh outfit. This not only makes your child more comfortable but protects him from diaper rash. The extra towels are handy, not just for drying him off but as a non-sandy area for him to play under the shade.
- Know When To Say When: If you ever experienced those carefree days of staying out all day, applying baby oil, slathering on your SPF 4 or watching the sun set over the beach, this isn’t it! Even with sunscreen, hats, shade tents and SPF protective swimwear, you still want to monitor and limit your child’s time in the sun. Their delicate skin is more prone to heat rash (and subsequently diaper rash) and we’ve also mentioned the potential for dehydration. It may seem like a lot of stuff for just a little time but let’s face it – that’s parenthood. Play it safe and just do a little bit each day. This will not only help with your baby’s comfort and health but also his enjoyment.
With parenting, it seems there’s a lot of prep, a lot of “stuff” and a lot of worry for a moment of this or that – and it may be true. But when those moments go well – and believe us, they do – it’s all worth it!