The sun is shining, waves are splashing, and the sand is calling your name. The beachside getaway is a summer necessity. But if you’ve recently added a new member to your family, it’s easy to worry about whether the sun and surf is a safe environment for your little one. Can you take baby to the beach safely? Because even the one and under set needs a little vacay sometimes.
There are several factors involved in this decision. First, consider your baby’s age in relation to water safety. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, formal water safety programs for children aged one and under are not recommended because there is not enough scientific study to back up their effectiveness. Of course, these lessons would take place in the calm waters of a pool. As explained in Kids Health, the open water at the beach could include hazards such as large waves, undertows, and even jellyfish stings. And the unseen things can get scary, too.
As noted in Baby Center, babies younger than two months of age have vulnerable immune systems, so it is not a good idea to bring them into any sort of open water environment. For kids aged two months to one year, you may want to consult with your healthcare professional. The safety of dipping your kid in the water at the beach will depend on your own child’s health and immune system, as well as the safety of the water you’re entering. Keep an eye out for local water advisories: nothing will derail a fun family vacation faster than flesh-eating bacteria. On the other hand, if your beach is known to be rather safe, then you can probably snap some cute pics of your child literally dipping her toe in the water for the first time. As with most choices, it’s a judgement call based on your own personal circumstances and beach locale.
Heat and sun exposure are other factors that may affect your baby’s health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies under six months of age should be sheltered from sun exposure and to avoid potential sunburns. As the AAP further explained, infants do not have the same ability to regulate body heat like adults, so they may experience heat stress when left in a car or other hot environment. With all of these potential threats, is it even a good idea to take your baby to the beach at all?
With a little preparation and forethought, it’s possible to safely enjoy a little beach getaway with your baby. After all, a deep love of summer beach trips can start early. Here are some tips for taking your baby to the beach without driving yourself cray.
1. Use Shade
Throwing shade is a good thing when you're vacationing with a baby. You can use any shelter your local beach provides, or follow advice from the Huffington Post and invest in a SPF tent for your little one. It's a sure way to keep her cool.
2. Consider SPF
Even if the sky is overcast, sunscreen may be a smart idea. As explained by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, the best approach is to keep very young babies out of the sun altogether, although applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is a good call if shelter may not be available. The bottom line: your baby does not need to tan.
3. Cover Up
Keeping your baby covered is an easy way to protect her from the sun. As explained by the Sink Cancer Foundation, using a wide-brimmed bonnet or sun hat can help protect your little one's delicate face and neck. Plus, sun hats are just freaking adorable on little babies.
4. Stay Hydrated
If you're throwing back a bottle of water every hour, your baby needs plenty of fluids, too. Depending on your kid's age, you may need to breastfeed more often, or provide them with water, to avoid dehydration, according to the National Health Service. Encourage everyone in your party to drink up.
5. Choose Your Beach Times Wisely
The noontime sun may be too much for your munchkin. As explained by the AAP, it's a good idea to stay inside when sun exposure is at its peak intensity, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Plus, early morning or late evening beach trips are sure to make for stunning and gorgeous photographs.
6. Air Out Your Baby
The beach breeze may be more than just a luxury for your little one. Helping the air circulate around your baby is crucial, and a little portable fan may help your kiddo settle down for a comfortable nap in the beach tent, according to Apartment Therapy. If you wind up using the fan for your own comfort, that's okay too.
7. Watch Out For Signs Of Trouble
Be on guard against any signs of danger. According to the Huffington Post, potential signs of dehydration in babies include dry mouth, dark yellow urine, and listlessness. If your baby starts showing these signs, then it might be time to head back inside.
8. Bring Beach Blankets
Some babies really hate sand, but you won't know how yours feels about it until you hit the beach. As suggested by Babycentre, a sturdy beach blanket is a good way to keep your baby away from sand. Hopefully she doesn't find it too bothersome overall.
9. Don't Overplan
If your pre-baby vacations included itineraries, you may want to keep things casual for a post-baby beach retreat. Being able to adapt to a sudden downpour, or even a diaper catastrophe, is important. Keeping a sense of humor is also key, although this is sometimes easier said than done.
10. Use Sunglasses
Not only are they cute, but sunglasses are also useful. According to the March of Dimes, baby's eyes don't block out harmful sun rays as well as adult's do. So throw some sweet shades on your micro human.
11. Bring Lightweight Carrier
Trade in your big and bulky carrier for something more breezy. As explained by New York Family, a good summer baby carrier is light and breathable. Because no one wants to deal with excess heat at the beach.
12. Pack A First-Aid Kit
Hopefully you won't need it. But as noted in Baby Center, a baby first aid kit with supplies such as bandages, tweezers, and a cold pack just might be the best thing you bring along. It's better to have it and not need it than the reverse.
13. Pack Plenty Of Toys (But Not Too Many)
This will depend on your baby's age, but some cute beach toys will help keep your little one entertained. As noted in Popsugar, there are plenty of beach-friendly toys for babies available. Everyone loves a bucket at the beach.
14. Bring Along A Baby Pool
If you'd rather keep your baby away from the beach water (red tide is raging, for instance), then this may be the next best thing. According to The Wise Baby, bringing a baby pool to the beach ensures your little one has access to cool, fresh water in a safe environment. She can splash away to her heart's content.
15. Don't Forget Swim Diapers
If there's even a chance of your baby going in water, then these are a lifesaver. Swim diapers come in both disposable and reusable varieties, as explained on Parent Guide. And of course you deserve at least a little peace of mind on your vacation.