Last summer, when my daughter was two months old, my husband and I embarked on our first family trip and headed to Kennebunkport, Maine. We were so excited to bring our daughter to the beach for the first time! I filled our ENTIRE SUV with everything that’s made for a baby’s day at the beach. I learned my lesson the hard way because you really only need 8 beach gears for a day at the beach with toddler.
As a new mom going to the beach, what I didn’t anticipate was the hauling of beach gear to and from the beach to our parking spot. I learned this the hard way last summer after we got the furthest parking spot in the lot. I did not own a carrier or a stroller, so I carried my daughter who was a big two-month old for a 20-minute trek to the beach (my back took a week to recuperate!) While I carried the baby, it took my husband 3 trips to unload our beach gear! This included an enormous tent, which I swear could have covered a whole army! Once at the beach, it needed to be pitched in the sand and then weighted down to prevent flying away, which wasn’t exactly easy. Not to mention the fact it would likely be impossible to do this alone without someone looking after your baby or toddler. The load also included a cooler for breast milk, two chairs (that had no handles or backpack capabilities), along with a bag that had changes of clothes, sunblock, and other stuff that wouldn’t fit in my diaper bag. When we finally got to the beach, my husband and I looked at each other in exhaustion, ready to go home before the day even started. I think we lasted an hour, and we never returned to the beach that entire summer.
This summer, I’m determined to be better at the beach (and pool)! I’ve already gone multiple times and, with a little help from other moms, discovered 8 must-have items. It’s already made a world of difference.
Here are a few things I learned:
(You experienced moms out there, please don’t laugh!) Being a first-time mom, I had no idea that the purpose of a pool diaper is actually not to hold in baby’s bodily fluids but to release them – who knew? The purpose is to protect the baby from drowning and from being weighed down, not to protect other swimmers from fecal matter. Unaware of this fact, I got my daughter ready in our room, put the swim diaper on, then her suit, and off we went. When we arrived at the pool, I lifted my daughter out of the stroller only to find the seat soaking wet. Surprise!
Tip 1: Don’t put the swim diaper on ahead of time!
Tip 2: I bought the cutest bathing suit with a matching hat and cover-up, only to realize that it didn’t have snaps in the crotch. Every time I had to change a diaper, the entire suit needed to be taken off, which is not easy when the suit is wet, and you are on a lounge chair.
Tip 3: Get there early! If you have an infant, try to get to the beach for morning nap time. This will give you a solid hour or two while the baby sleeps. Even though many toddlers don’t take morning naps, earlier is still better in regards to parking.
Tip 4: Put everyone’s sunblock on before you get to the beach. While you will have to reapply, it’s nice to not have to worry about this when you get there.
8 Must-Have Gears for the Beach
Learn from my mistakes and purchase as many of these as you can:
Snap bathing suit
If you have a girl, buy a bathing suit that snaps so you can change the baby with ease. Nothing like taking off a soaking wet bathing suit and trying to get it back on!
Tent with cover for shade
Get a tent that is compact and light and that can turn into a backpack. I love the California Beach Co. Pop N’ Go Playpen.
Beach Diaper Bag (that’s JUST for the beach)
If you bring your everyday diaper bag, it will get full of sunscreen and sand, much like mine did when I stupidly took it along in Maine. You also want one that’s big enough to fit everything you need, so you don’t need to bring multiple bags. My sister-in-law got this one for my daughter, and it’s the most practical gift we have received! I like it because it’s lightweight, very spacious, easy to clean (I throw it in the wash.) it also has a zipper and can be monogrammed!
Get a big rolling cart, so you don’t have to make multiple trips to the car.
Insulated Water Bottle
Use a S’well Bottle for formula, breast milk, milk, or any other beverage you want to stay cool, so you don’t have to lug a cooler.
Waterproof Cooler Bag and Outdoor Blanket
I love this because it’s plastic, and you can easily wipe it clean. It’s also a nice size and you can easily fit on it with your toddler while he or she is playing.
Backpack beach chairs
These beach chairs are lightweight and easily go on your back and feature a cup holder and zippered pocket for belongings.
I had the Baby Bjorn when my daughter was younger and I loved it, but once she was 25lbs, we could no longer use it. I love the LILLEbaby carrier because it has a back support panel for larger babies and infants and also has a breathable mesh panel that you can unzip to let air in. This is great for the walk from the car to the beach.
About Claudia Marie Russo
Claudia Marie Russo is a Corporate Communications executive in New York City. A graduate of Villanova University, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Corporate Communication from Purdue University. In her spare time, she enjoys long days at the beach, attending folk rock concerts, cooking, drinking wine, eating Margherita pizza and spending time with family and friends. She currently serves on the leadership committee for the Villanova Communication Alumni Network. A New York native, Claudia now calls Weehawken, New Jersey her home, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
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