Hitting the Beach with Baby

Hitting the Beach with BabyI love love love the beach. My husband and kids love the beach. My dogs especially love the beach. Still, I’d be lying if I said taking my first son as a newborn to Hawaii didn’t freak me out a little. I wondered how I would know if he was getting dehydrated, how I would keep him from getting sun when he was too young to wear sunblock, and I even worried about travel and hotel accommodations.

Since we were traveling to the beach on my son’s first beach experience, we worried the baby would cry and disturb everyone at the hotel and on the plane. He was super sweet and quiet, but it didn’t stop some of the older plane passengers and hotel passengers from giving us the stink eye. You can’t do much about grumpy plane passengers, but if you’re staying at a hotel with your baby, my advice is to find as family-friendly a hotel you can. Will your nine-month-old get anything out of any awesome water slides or other kiddy amenities the hotel may have? Nope. But you will be surrounded by people who have been in your shoes, and if your baby has a major meltdown at breakfast, it won’t be that big a deal. Alternately, look into renting a condo from Airbnb.com or Vrbo.com. You’ll have lots of privacy and usually a kitchen with a refrigerator.

Whether you are lucky enough to live near a beach or are traveling, securing some shade is huge. Shade will reduce UV exposure and also the temperature. At hotels, getting to the pool or beach early enough to get an umbrella is key (not like you’re sleeping in these days though, right?). If you are going for the day from home, bring your own shade. Now that my family lives on an island, we have our own little beach umbrella that we bring anytime we visit the beach in the summer or fall.

Likewise, avoiding peak sun hours will help everybody in the family limit the amount of UV exposure they get. Noon generally has the highest UV index, so it’s a good time to take a break,  have some lunch, and maybe catch a nap. If you see that the UV index is particularly high, it may be a good day to plan an indoor activity, at least during the peak sun hours.

I also love rash guards, especially now that they’re easy and inexpensive to find. They also really limit the amount of skin you need to put sunblock on. Speaking of sunblock, I personally have found that I’m less likely to miss spots with sunblock if I apply sunblock before getting dressed (this goes for babies and me, too). Make sure to reapply frequently, particularly after swimming and toweling off.

Finally, can we talk about sand? It’s great to feel warm sand between your toes, but that stuff gets everywhere and is so hard to get off (especially once you’ve applied sunblock). Babies, with all of their little folds, have the sand issue especially tough. If you haven’t used baby powder to remove sand before, you have to try it. I’ve seen little applicators you can purchase to apply it, but to be honest I just keep a container of it in our beach kit. At the end of the day, I sprinkle it on the sandy areas and rub. Seriously, it’s like magic.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 4 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

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