If you’re heading to the shore with your beach baby, here are the smart-mom hacks and baby beach gear you need for an awesome outing. Read on for 25 hacks to make ocean outings easier, from a baby pool to a kitchen staple that removes sand like magic.
1. Bring an inflatable pool and beach umbrella.
Pack a small inflatable pool and a beach umbrella (some pools even come with built-in shades) to keep baby cool and contained at the beach. This is especially handy for new crawlers and babies who put everything, including sand and rocks, in their mouth. If you don’t have an inflatable pool, a baby bathtub is another good option.
2. Set an SPF timer.
Set a timer on your phone so you know when it’s time to reapply sunscreen to your child and yourself. Make sure you cover sensitive exposed spots like the tips of the ears and back of the neck. Set another timer to remind you both to drink liquids so you don’t get dehydrated. Check out our favorite sunscreens for babies and toddlers.
3. Load up your laundry basket.
Pack your beach gear in a roomy laundry basket. It will store all the towels, snacks and toys you’re bringing, and it can double as a play area or napping spot for younger babies if you line it with extra-soft towels and keep it well shaded. The best part: Sand will fall out of the holes as you leave the beach, so you don't bring the whole beach home with you.
4. Create a sand-free play area.
We love this idea from the Team Johnson blog: Turn a fitted bedsheet upside down and place a bag or cooler in each of the four corners to keep the sheet extended and the sides up. The sides act as a barrier to sand and keep your curious baby from crawling away. You can also purchase a similar product from Sandy Bumz that is designed to stay upright even without items propped in the corner. The Sandy Bumz mat folds up compactly. Take it to the park and friends' backyards too.
5. Pre-freeze snacks.
If your baby is eating solid foods, freeze a few food pouches and yogurt the night before your beach outing. They’ll turn a chilly, slushy consistency at the beach and will help keep your baby cool. They’ll also feel nice on sore gums if it's teething time.
6. Spray away the heat.
Sometimes shade isn’t enough to keep babies cool. Bring a small spray bottle filled with ice water to spray on your child at regular intervals and when those cheeks are looking flushed.
7. Remove sand with cornstarch.
This is a must-try: Cornstarch is a surprisingly effective way to remove sand from skin. Sprinkle it onto exposed arms and legs and watch it do its magic. It works by drying skin so sand wipes off easily and painlessly. Talc-free baby powder works well too. Pack it in your beach bag or leave it in the car to sprinkle on before you all climb in.
8. Roll your load.
Bring your wagon or jogging stroller so you don’t have to carry all the baby beach gear you’re bringing. Pro tip: Dragging strollers backwards is easier than pushing them forward in the sand. Read more about why you need a stroller wagon.
9. Use a pop-up tent for naps.
Plan on staying at the shore all day? Consider buying a small pop-up tent so baby can sleep in a cozy shaded spot away from the sun and sand. Check out our favorite portable tents and play yards.
10. Sprinkle baking soda into a post-beach bath.
Despite our best efforts with sunscreen and UPF-treated bathing suits, sometimes babies get a little too much sun. Soothe burning skin by adding a few sprinkles of baking soda to the bath that night to cool the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, applying a clean towel dampened with cool tap water also provides relief.
11. Chill your sunscreen.
Stick the sunscreen in your cooler to keep it chilled. When you re-apply at the beach, you’ll cool down baby’s body temperature too.
12. Bring a stash of cool washcloths.
While you’re packing the cooler, add in a few damp washcloths in a plastic bag. They’ll both clean up messes and cool baby down when needed.
13. Skip expensive beach toys.
There’s so much to see, touch and listen to at the beach, there’s no need for pricey beach toys. Bring a bucket and shovel set so your little one can explore the shapes and textures of sand, water, shells and seaweed. If you want to take it up a notch, bring a watering can, bath toys or small cars and trucks.
14. Use a mesh laundry bag for beach toys.
When you’re ready to go home, load beach toys into a mesh laundry bag. The sand will naturally fall out as you walk back to your car. When you get home, hose down the contents outside to clean them.
15. Freeze water bottles.
Place a few unopened water bottles in the freezer the day before your beach outing. The bottles act as ice packs to keep snacks and drinks cool, and you’ll have chilled water to drink at the beach.
16. Don’t forget the hat.
Keeping baby’s sensitive skin safe from the sun should be your number one priority at the beach. Bring a hat with a broad rim that not only covers your baby’s head but also ears and neck. Hats with a UPF+ sun rating offer extra protection.
17. Leave extra towels in the car.
Bring along a few extra towels, including a hand towel for your baby, and leave them in the car to warm up wet, chilled bodies. If baby has a wet swimsuit, place the hand towel in the car seat before putting them in to make the ride home more comfortable.
18. Get a cooler on wheels.
A cooler with wheels and lots of storage pockets means you can load it up with everything you need while keeping your hands free for wrangling your child.
19. Keep it brief.
Plan your beach outing around nap times and meals to keep crankiness at a minimum. A shorter beach trip also means toting less stuff and a decreased chance of sunburn, so it's all good all around.
20. Bring a small fan.
If it’s not a windy day, connect a battery-powered mini-clip fan to your umbrella or other gear. This will help keep your baby’s body temperature down and give everybody some comfort in the heat.
21. Create a sensory play experience.
Gather up shells and rocks, which have interesting textures and colors (choose larger items and provide plenty of supervision to avoid a choking hazard). Then pour some water on the sand so your little one can see and feel how sand changes when it gets wet.
22. Introduce new words.
Enrich baby’s vocabulary by pointing out boats, waves, beach balls and everything else you see at the beach. You can also write out the words in the sand while calling out each letter.
23. Keep sunburns at bay.
Sunscreen is key, but swimsuits and hats with UPF+ protection, like those from Green Sprouts, provide another important layer of protection. Reapply sunscreen to exposed body parts throughout the day and after being in the water.
24. Ditch your diaper bag.
Leave the diaper bag at home to keep it sand-free. Instead, buy an oversize beach bag and use a reusable bag for diapers and wipes. Pack a few plastic bags to hold soiled diapers.
25. Dig a hole.
Use baby’s shovels to dig a hole in the sand for baby to sit and play in. The sand in the hole will be cooler than the sand that was exposed to the sun. If you’re feeling crafty, shape a baby-size chair in the sand to give your kid a seat.
featured image: iStock