Suspend your judgment for what I’m about to tell you. Despite living in New England for seven years, my husband and I have only been to the coast twice. It sounds ridiculous, I know. It’s not that we don’t like the water, we’ve just never gotten around to making the trek. We never know where to park. We never know what to bring with us. So it makes perfect sense that I would sit down to write a guide to baby’s first beach trip. Baby’s first beach trip in the time of Corona. You can laugh. I’m laughing too.
When we decided to take our son to the water (it’s a right of passage that we absolutely didn’t want to skip), I polled every mama I knew about where to go and what to bring, so don’t worry, we aren’t going into this adventure totally blind. I asked for any and all recommendations, what to bring, where to go, how long to stay, etc. and received a lot of great advice.
10 Tips for Your Beach Trip with Baby
Bring a Mask
Massachusetts currently expects residents to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. While the beach wasn’t so crowded that we couldn’t leave the proper amount of space between our towels and our neighbors’, it was good to have masks for grabbing food, paying for parking, or even just walking through town.
Drive During Nap Time
If you can manage it, try to do the trek during naptime. If you can only overlap one, aim for the drive home to be during nap time. Baby will absolutely crash on the ride home after a full and fun day in the sun. We drove out to Salisbury Beach, about an hour and twenty away, and our son slept the whole way there and the whole way back.
Shade is a Must
This tidbit had me panic-shopping a few days before our beach trip and buying a multi-colored beach umbrella. We ended up setting up our towels in a shady spot and not using the umbrella, but we will definitely take it on future trips. If an umbrella is not your style, you can always bring a small tent. Shade is important to provide baby (and mama) a respite from the sun, a safe space to nurse, etc.
Have a Stash of Ziplock Bags
Ziplock bags are great for lots of things – wrapping up dirty diapers, keeping binkies free from sand, storing anything else you want free from sand, etc. I stashed a bunch in our beach bag and was glad I had. We also used them to store our shovels and sand toys (on the way home) so that sand didn’t end up everywhere.
Baby Powder Helps
Baby powder, the cornstarch kind of course (do they even sell anything else?), is great for getting sand off of wet extremities like feet and legs and other sensitive places.
Long-Sleeved Bathing Suits are the Best
Are they tough to get off of baby when wet? Absolutely. Are they worth not worrying about whether you have enough sunscreen on baby’s arms, shoulders, and back? Also absolutely. It’s time-consuming enough to continuously slather the zinc paste on the baby’s face and legs and hands and feet.
Whether you plan to buy food at the beach or not (most places are open for takeaway and outdoor dining), having extra water on hand to rinse body parts and sandy items is super helpful.
Toys, Toys, Toys
Bring things to keep baby occupied. I stress-bought a set of sand toys and we amused ourselves making sandcastles and digging. (Read: daddy built sandcastles and our son smashed them into bits.) Our son is a good crawler but had a hard time in the sand so we were mostly stationary. It was nice to have some toys and objects to keep him happy and entertained.
Don’t Worry About Swim Diapers
They really hold almost nothing of the liquid variety. We left our son in a regular diaper and brought a swim diaper on the off-chance we decided to fully submerge him in the water. (Fun fact: we didn’t because it was freezing!) We had no trouble changing our son right on our portable changing mat on our towels. Public restrooms were open and available but it was easy and no one seemed to care or look.
Your Baby is Going to Eat Sand
You have two choices: 1. Police baby’s every move. This means emptying baby’s hands every time they scoop some sand or 2. Accept that baby is going to eat it and move on. This is where extra water can come in handy. When our son got upset about the sand in his mouth we used a wet cloth to wipe out his mouth and offered him some sips of water to help clear everything.
We had a great trip and taking the baby to the beach with us wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be. In fact, we had such a good time that we’re hoping to hit another beach soon! Just remember to stay 6 feet apart and have fun!