Don’t let the fear of sunburns and sand-covered tots stop you from hitting the beach as a family this summer. There’s nothing a little shade, SPF and genius beach hacks can’t fix. Read on for 25 smart hacks to make ocean outings with your little one a breeze, from a baby beach tent to a kitchen staple that removes sand like magic.
photo: Katie Taylor
1. Bring an inflatable pool and beach umbrella.
Buy a mini inflatable pool and 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.
2. Set an SPF timer.
Set a timer on your phone so you know when it’s time to reapply sunscreen to baby and yourself. Make sure you cover sensitive exposed spots like the tips of the ears and back of the neck. Set another timer for water intake so you don’t get dehydrated.
3. Load up your laundry basket.
Pack your beach gear into 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.
photo: Team Johnson
4. Create a play area with a bedsheet.
Turn a fitted bedsheet upside down and place a bag or cooler in each of the four corners to keep the sheet extended. That will create sides that act as a barrier to sand and keep your curious baby from exploring the whole shore.
5. Pre-freeze snacks.
If your baby is eating solid foods, freeze a few food pouches and yogurts the night before your beach outing. They’ll turn a chilly, slushy consistency at the beach and will help keep your baby cool.
6. Spray away the heat.
Sometimes shade isn’t enough for keeping babies from getting too hot. Bring a small spray bottle filled with ice water to spray on baby at regular intervals and when they’re looking flushed.
photo: Maryignatiati via Pixabay
7. Remove sand with cornstarch.
The kitchen staple cornstarch is a surprisingly effective way to remove sand from baby’s 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.
8. Roll your load.
Bring your wagon or jogging stroller so you don’t have to carry baby along with the beach bags, cooler, umbrella and chairs you’re bringing. Pro tip: Dragging strollers backwards is easier than pushing them forward in the sand.
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.
photo: NewportBaptistChurchNC via Pixabay
10. Pour apple cider vinegar into a post-beach bath.
Despite our best efforts with sunscreen and UPF-treated bathing suits, sometimes babies get a little pink from the sun. Soothe itchy and burning sunburnt skin by adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar to the bath that night.
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 can cool baby down when needed.
photo: CC0 Creative Commons via Pixabay
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 baby can explore the shapes and textures of sand, water, shells and seaweed. For extra fun, bring a watering can, some 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 while still in the bag 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 throughout the day.
photo: Sylviebliss via Pixabay
16. Don’t forget the hat.
Keeping baby’s sensitive skin safe from the sun should be your number one priority when 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 baby, and leave them in the car to wipe off any lingering sand or warm wet, chilled bodies. If baby is wet or sandy, place the hand towel in the car seat under baby 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 holding baby.
photo: KoalaParkLaundromat via Pixabay
19. Keep it brief.
Plan your beach outing around naptimes and meals to keep crankiness at a minimum. A shorter beach trip also means toting less stuff and a decreased chance of sunburn.
20. Bring a small fan.
If it’s not a windy day, connect a battery-powered mini-clip fan to your umbrella. This will help keep your baby’s body temperature down and give everybody a break from the heat.
21. Create a sensory play experience.
The beach offers lots of things for baby to touch and explore. 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. Share new words.
Enrich baby’s vocabulary by pointing out boats, waves, umbrellas and everything else you see at the beach. You can also write out the words in the sand while calling out each letter.
photo: i play
23. Keep sunburns at bay.
Sunscreen is key, but swimsuits and hats with UPF+ protection, like those from i play, 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 oversized beach bag and use a reusable or plastic bag for diapers and wipes. Pack extra plastic bags for containing 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 what was exposed to the sun. If you’re feeling crafty, shape a baby-size chair in the sand.