A family trip to the beach can feel daunting but with a relaxed attitude, a little prep and packing the essentials, it will be a breeze and a day the whole family will enjoy. Whether you are heading to one of the beautiful beaches the UK coast has to offer or venturing a little further afield, it’s always good to know what to pack and little hacks to help make the day run a little smoother.
Go with the flow
First of all, adjust your expectations of the phrase "beach day." It might be "beach hour" or "beach five minutes" or "beach you are never allowed to leave." Whatever it is, know that you probably will be baby-chasing or baby-rocking or baby-feeding more than you will be diving into your new top seller novel. And that's OK. Accepting this will make it a more fun experience for the whole family.
The beach can be a new sensory adventure haven for your little one to enjoy, exploring the texture of the sand, the sound of the crashing waves, splashing in the shallow shore and seeing new sights. They may think sand is their new favourite snack but that’s all part of them exploring this new and exciting environment in the only way they know how, with their mouth. Obviously, we advise you to keep an eye on them and try to keep eating sand to a minimum. But it happens, don't panic if this does happen, just try to get as much out as possible and wash their mouth out with clean water.
If your little one is older than six months old, go big on the sun cream. Even if it seems a bit cloudy overhead, still be generous with the sun cream as the suns UV rays can easily penetrate the clouds and damage your baby’s skin. Even though sun cream offers that extra protection for their delicate skin against the sun’s harmful rays, this doesn’t mean they should be exposed to the sun more than absolutely necessary. You should still keep them in the shade as much as possible and also make sure they wear their sun protection clothing and hats.
If your little one is younger than 6 months, avoid using any sun cream on their skin. The chemicals in sun cream are too harsh for the delicate newborn skin. As a result, it is essential they are kept in the shade, think UV tent, wide rimmed sun hat, umbrella or parasole. Head over to our “Sun Safety Tips for Children” blog for more information about how to keep your little one safe in the sun this Summer.
Avoid scorching days
When a heatwave hits the UK, it’s everyone’s instinct to head to their nearest beach to enjoy the rare nice weather. However, from experience, we tend to suggest avoiding the beach on extremely hot days. Firstly, it will be SO busy and crowded you will struggle to get a space big enough to lie down. The extremely hot weather will also make you and the children more likely to get all hot and bothered making the whole day a little more strenuous. It’s also just not safe for your child to be in the scorching heat. Try to avoid the really hot days, or you could even take a trip to the beach in the late afternoon/early evening when it is cooler, less busy and the sun rays aren't as strong. We personally love doing this, you could even take snacks and settle in to watch the sunset.
A beach trip without a bucket and spade is like fish and chips without the mushy peas! Don’t be that parent that ruined the sand castle dreams. We have compiled our list of essential things to bring to the beach to make sure everyone has the best day possible. It’s always tempting to bring more stuff for those pesky “just in case” situations, but try to keep the list small as it will be you juggling it all from the car across the tricky sand whilst also battling with a wiggly baby or two.
- Towels – take a few as they get damp and sandy quickly. We find the wearable towels so handy! It means your little one can wear the towel hands-free whilst still playing and drying at the same time. Parent lifesaver!
- UV sun tent or umbrella to keep your little one in the shade. As previously mentioned, shade is your hero when at the beach to protect your little one’s skin but also to keep them cool. The babymoov Aquani playpen is perfect as it is a 3-in-1. It means that your little one can be in the shade with it’s UV protected canopy, it also has raised sides to stop your little mover from crawling here there everywhere. But the real winner for us is you can also fill this one up with water, which means your little one can have a splash about, playing in water safely without getting all sandy.
- Big blanket. We think bigger the better really. Make sure it is big enough for everyone to sit on and spread out. This will also help prevent sand getting stuck to everybody.
- Cool bag. We all know nothing can ruin a day out like hungry kids. Make sure you bring enough food, snacks, drink or formula to last all day, plus maybe a few extra just in case. Keeping them in a cool bag will make sure everything stays fresh.
- Sun cream
- Bucket and spade, obviously!
- Protective clothing
- Flotation device
Dress for the occasion
The clothing you put your baby in for a day at the beach is just as important as the sun cream you put on their skin. Choose a loose long-sleeved top in a lightweight fabric, preferably cotton, to provide an extra layer of protection from the sun. Make sure they are also wearing a wide rimmed sun hat and sunglasses if you are lucky enough to have a baby that is happy to keep them on. Buying a silicone strap for the glasses to secure them on their head a little easier is a great tip and will help prevent them from being pulled off straight away. For extra tips on how to get your little one to wear glasses click here.
If your little one is moving around independently and exploring the world on their own 2 little legs, make sure their feet are also protected. Getting beach shoes or jelly shoes are super useful to protect their feet from the hot sand or sharp objects hidden in the sand.
If your baby is a water baby and loves splashing in the sea make sure they are wearing safe swim wear which preferably has UV protection in and also flotation aids.
Whilst the beach is so much fun and your family will have the best day making memories that will last for a lifetime. The beach is a new environment for your little one and possibly a whole different place to you now you are a parent. The beach is a safe place for everyone to have fun, but it is just a good idea to be that little bit extra vigilant to make sure nothing scary happens. Make sure your little one stays close at all times and an adult is watching them so they don't wander off and get lost, especially if the beach is extremely busy. When splashing around in the sea, stick to the shallow shoreline where the current isn’t as strong. Also, keep hold of your little one when in the sea, even if you are used to letting them swim off in swimming lessons. The tide can be surprisingly strong and it’s always best to keep them as close as possible.
As you do in everyday life, simply keep an eye on them, especially round the water and protect them from the sun. But most importantly, let loose, relax and have fun! The beach is an amazing place for a family day out with a difference. Smell the salty air, be soothed by the blue sea, feel the sun on your skin and enjoy—and enjoy watching your baby discover a world of sights, sounds, and textures.