Trial and error, research, and tips from fellow moms have taught me — a mom of three under 5 — what to do and not to do when preparing for a family beach trip. These are my highlights.
1) Only use swim diapers for swimming: swim diapers’ sole function is to keep solids in. That means, zero liquid absorption. Want a bright red diaper rash and urine everywhere? Then, pop your baby in a swim diaper for a beach day or for a poolside afternoon. If that sore and messy scenario doesn’t sound appealing, stick to standard diapers and simply make a quick change into a swim diaper if/when submersion is in baby’s immediate plans. Then, change right back into a standard diaper once baby is beached.
2) Baby powder: baby powder is magical pain-free sand removal fairy dust. Sprinkle it on your sandy self, your beach-crusted baby, or your textured toddler and easily brush off the sand without a scratch. It is a beach bag must.
3) Babywear: don’t bring a stroller to the shoreline and don’t try to simultaneously carry the baby as well as half of your beach plot down the dunes. (I’ve done this… I do not recommend.) Instead, wear that baby so you have two free hands and can nurse easily (and discreetly) in public. Brief baby naps are a breeze in the carrier too. Got more than one kid to wrangle seaside? How could you not babywear? Bonus: if you’re feeling a tad skittish about debuting your post-baby belly, instant camouflage!
4) Have a pottying game plan: don’t enter into beach time unprepared for the inevitable. Figure out ahead of time what you plan to do about restroom requirements, especially if no public facilities are within potty-dancing distance. If you’re pregnant or have a toilet-training toddler, this is particularly poignant. And don’t just think #1… poop happens!
5) Laundry bags are beach-friendly: use a mesh laundry hamper liner/bag to carry sandy beach toys. The perforated material allows sand to stay on the beach instead of in the toy sack.
6) Hooded beach towels are multipurpose: I love these cost-effective hooded kids towels from Bed Bath and Beyond. They stay in place and dry quickly in the sun. Use them as a towel, a cover-up, an escape from unwanted sun, or an impromptu blanket if a chill strikes… they’re great.
7) Pack food and lots of water: this is the time to plan ahead. Kids and adults, alike, become ravenous when seaside. Pack snacks, fruit, water (lots of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding), and water-dense veggies. Skip the tasty chips and savory pretzels in favor of hydrating — as opposed to salty — fare. Hydration is key.
8) Sunscreen and bugspray: just bring them. You never know when you’ll need an extra dose of SPF or when a land breeze will make insect repellent a must. Sunscreen face sticks are fantastic for avoiding stinging eyes, plus: portable!
9) Petroleum jelly: Aquaphor, Vaseline, whatever you prefer, pack it. Chapped lips, irritated baby bum, withered cuticles, dry skin patch… a travel size container of skin lubricating petroleum jelly is all you need to stay comfy.
10) Make it a vacation for you too: vacations are notorious for being extra work for parents, especially stay-at-home guardians. Plan ahead and be sure to make the vacation feel like a reprieve for you too. Don’t strive for perfection, just fun. Don’t expect complete relaxation, just a slower pace. Don’t envision seamless bonding, just togetherness. Whether it’s a naptime coffee on the balcony, a glass of wine after bedtime stories, an early morning run, or time off from dinner duty, find a way to allow yourself a break. You deserve it. This is your vacation too.