When you think of babies and beaches, you might envision your infant peacefully napping in the shade, the sounds of the surf in the background and the trees gently swaying in the breeze. But we all know reality looks more like sandy diapers and a baby screaming in unison with seagulls.
The right baby beach gear can change that.
Our favorite baby beach gear includes some out-of-the-box ideas from parents who have already beach-tested these items with their own babies. Bonus—you likely already own some of these products. And if you don’t, we’ve tried to select items that are durable and useful enough to grow with your babies, making them worth the investment for the long haul.
1. The Breezy Wrap
You might already have a carrier or two that you love for everyday babywearing use. But if you plan to visit the beach, pool or water park regularly, consider investing in The Breezy Wrap, a mesh wrap carrier that’s designed to get wet while keeping baby cool. It can be used on babies weighing up to 30 pounds. Many infants can be uncertain about the water (bathtime terror, anyone?), so keeping your baby wrapped close to you will give him or her a feeling of security while keeping your hands free. It also dries quickly in the sun—a bonus when you’re on vacation with limited access to laundry facilities.
2. Misting Water Bottle
A simple squirt bottle provides a multitude of uses while you’re at the beach with your baby. First, of course it’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water (something us parents often forget in the midst of taking care of baby). But a mist bottle is also great for cooling baby down or keeping the sand at bay with a little water. Also, if you’re breastfeeding and you’ve been swimming in the salt water or playing in the the sand yourself, you can use your mist bottle to freshen up a little before nursing.
3. i. play Baby & Toddler Flap Sun Protection Swim Hat
Many kids act allergic to having anything on their heads. Fortunately, infants (given their lack of mobility and penchant for sleepiness) are generally a bit more amenable to wearing hats than their older peers. The i. Play Swim Hat is a great find because it provides great head coverage for the face and neck, and also includes a chin strap for staying secure. It also dries quickly if it happens to get dunked in the water (you know, when your precious darling finally figures out how to wrangle the thing off her head and into the ocean).
4. Turkish Towels
Turkish towels, also called Peshtemal, Hammam or Fouta towels, are enjoying a growing reputation in the U.S. for their high absorbency, light weight, durability and lovely designs. These factors all make them a great candidate for tucking into your beach bag for your day on the waves with baby, and for a few other reasons, too: Turkish towels can do double-duty as lightweight, breathable swaddling blankets, so no need to bring your heavier ones from home. They also make great nursing covers.
5. Neso Beach Tent
Since it isn’t recommended that you start putting sunscreen on your baby until after he or she is six months old, keeping your infant in the shade is a top priority. Tents or umbrellas are great solutions, provided that you find one that is reasonably portable and unlikely to blow away in the ocean breeze. The Neso Beach Tent fits the bill—it weighs four pounds and folds up small enough to fit in a carry-on suitcase, it stands up to wind, and its telescoping poles can be easily adjusted throughout the day to provide shade from the sun. The bonus of getting a tent like this, as opposed to one designed just for infants, is that your whole family can use it for several years, not just one season.
6. Lulyboo Baby Lounge
How many times have you wondered, even if only half-seriously, about lugging your crib or pack-and-play to whatever random vacation or outdoor spot, just so your baby can get a good nap and you don’t have to be imprisoned in a hotel room? Enter the Lulyboo Baby Lounge, which combines the features of a crib, bassinet, playpen and changing station into a backpack that is waterproof on the bottom and has a canopy for shade. It even has an “activity bar” with soft toys to keep your little one entertained. Reviewers love this for beach outings and also use it for cosleeping and hotel stays during the infant stage.
7. ZOMAKE Picnic Blanket Tote
Parents can be pretty picky about their blankets, and this picnic blanket tote hits the major criteria for a beach outing with your little one. It’s lightweight and portable; it provides a soft fleecy surface on the top for baby to lie down on and snuggle on; the PVC bottom is waterproof; and the entire thing is sand-proof and can be easily shaken off and folded up when it’s time to go.
8. i. Play Snap Reusable Swimsuit Diaper
If you plan on taking your baby into the water for a swim, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in case of accidents (and you know there’s probably no “in case” about it). You can either go the disposable route, or consider these reusable swim diapers, which are more environmentally friendly and include a mesh lining that helps absorb accidents. The waist and legs adjust separately for a snug fit.
9. Fitted Sheet
Simply bring along a fitted sheet (can be any size) and anchor the corners with your large beach items such as a cooler, a chair, backpack, and beach bag. This creates a little walled barrier that keeps your baby sand-free while you enjoy your day at the beach. Note: these methods become a little less successful as your kiddos get older, as they seem to have a knack for tracking sand wherever they go. But for infants, it’s a perfect solution.
10. Baby Bath Chair
11. Boppy Pillow
Just like at home, Boppy Pillows are great for propping up your sweetheart on the sand and also positioning him or her for nursing or sleeping. Boppy also makes a water-resistant cover, which can be taken off and thrown in the wash after your day at the beach.
12. Bumbo Floor Seat
If your infant is able to sit upright, a Bumbo Floor Seat makes a great waterproof and sand-proof beach chair for sitting and having those first exquisite sensory experiences playing in the sand and water.
13. Evenflo Pivot Xplore All-Terrain Stroller Wagon
This might just be the beach cart of your dreams. Set to hit the market in July, 2019 (online only), the Evenflo Pivot Xplore All-Terrain Stroller Wagon is built for everything from a day trip to the beach to a stroll through the neighborhood. An easily adjustable handle allows you to push it like a stroller or pull it like a wagon. Other great features include adjustable sun-shield canopies, cupholders and a large storage basket. The stroller wagon accommodates up to two children ages 6 months to 5 years, and is priced at $350.
Cynthia J. Drake is a travel writer based in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Since becoming a mom, she’s been stranded at sea with her family, gotten lost in the Rocky Mountains, dealt with more than her fair share of public vomiting, and still can’t wait for the next trip. She writes regularly for AAA magazines, Austin American-Statesman, Texas Highways and Cruise Critic. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.