Last month we made the 24+ hour drive from Austin to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend three weeks at my parent’s beach house. Not only was it nice to escape Austin for a change of scenery while still social distancing, but we were also able to see both of our families for the first time since January. This is the first beach trip we’ve taken since Leo’s been mobile and more adventurous, so I knew we’d have to be prepared with all the baby things so he could safely enjoy spending time with us on the beach. We’re pleased to know he’s definitely a beach baby and has loved every minute of playing in the sand (and eating it) and has even dipped his tiny toes in the ocean.
Below I’ve laid out the various items we came prepared with based on category so it’s easier to sort through depending on your priorities! All items are linked or you can click here for a quick link to all of the items in one place.
While all kiddos need beachwear, babies are on another level because they’re still completely reliant on you to understand and fulfill their wants and needs. It’s best to choose beach options that are both comfortable for the baby and practical for changing diapers, avoiding chafing from sand, and shielding their skin from the sun. Here’s what we ended up buying and using:
- Swim bodysuit
This was actually the best clothing purchase we made for the beach, and my husband was the one who found it! Both of our moms were baffled by this little swimsuit option and said multiple times how they wished something like this was around they had babies. It’s made out of the same material as a swimsuit so it’s comfortable against their skin but keeps them cool in warm temperatures, it has long sleeves so it protects the majority of their skin from the sun, and it has a zipper all the way down so it’s easy to put on and remove. I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone who has a baby – boy or girl!
- Swim trunks + rash guard
I bought a few swim trunks for Leo before Dom found the swim bodysuit mentioned above. While I think the swim trunks are a good alternative for the swim bodysuit, I still prefer the bodysuit over trunks and a rash guard. However the trunks may be easier when it comes to changing diapers, so it’s a personal preference!
- Swim diapers
This is something that didn’t cross our minds until it was too late haha. Dom and I completely forgot to think about diapers when it came to putting Leo in a body of water (would love to know if you’ve done the same!). Our first attempt was in our backyard in Austin in a blowup pool and we just put a regular diaper on Leo underneath his swimsuit (would not recommend this hahaha but it did give us a laugh). The aftermath resorted in his diaper literally exploding and all of the little absorbent beads that make up a regular diaper were all over Leo, all over the inside of his swimsuit, and caused a giant mess… which is when we realized that there was such a thing as swim diapers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You live and you learn!
Protection from the sun
Obviously one of the biggest worries when it comes to bringing your baby to the beach is spending too much time in the sun. As someone who gets sunburnt easily, I’ve been trying my best to protect little Leo from the sun so he doesn’t have to experience the pain of burnt skin!
- Sun hat
We bought two of these, but the idea is better than the execution because Leo tends to rip them right off of his head as soon as we put one on. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying!
Another thing that Leo rips off pretty quickly, but I think once he’s a little older he might appreciate these since he hates when his eyes are directly in the sun.
I bought two types of sunscreen for Leo in case he had a reaction to either one of them. The first one we’ve been trying has worked well and no reaction! Here is the second type of sunscreen we bought – it has great reviews on Amazon and comes in a larger bottle.
We almost bought a little baby tent for the beach, but then remembered we already had this larger tent which is actually perfect for Leo and even better than a baby tent. This tent is better overall, especially now, because it covers a greater surface area so he can still crawl around while staying in the shade and other members of our family (and our dog, Lincoln) can lay in the shade for a break from the sun, too. An umbrella can serve the same purpose, but a tent provides so much more constant shade for Leo to crawl around in.
Beach & pool toys
Leo is quite the active baby these days, now that he crawls, sits up on his own, and is ultra observant of anything and everything around him. Needless to say, he certainly needs toys and other objects to distract him and keep him entertained because he always likes to be doing something.
- Beach blanket
This isn’t your regular blanket – this thing is super lightweight, large yet compact, mess-free, and is perfect for a mobile baby that doesn’t like to sit still. Since it’s so large (9’x10′), it’s great for the baby to crawl around without getting super sandy, perfect for a group of people to sit on, and even our dog will sometimes choose to lay on it over the hot sand. It’s also easy to get sand off of, dries quickly if it gets wet, and folds up into a compact bag that is attached so you never have to worry about how to store it. Highly recommend.
- Beach/sand toy set
As mentioned above, Leo is not a baby that likes to sit still. He loves to crawl around and explore, touch and feel new things, and is easily mesmerized by a simple item. In order to keep him from crawling halfway across the beach, we have been bringing a little bag of beach toys with us for him to play with. He’s still too little to use the toys for their original purpose (for example, shovel sand into a bucket), but he still loves to pick up each toy and figure out his own way of ‘playing’ with it.
- Pool float
This is such a fun little baby pool float that is great if you want to spend more than a few minutes in the pool with your baby. While Leo likes to be held, he’s a very independent baby and likes to do things on his own even more. This pool float is fun for him because he can join us in the pool, but can either lay back and relax or kick his little feet around. It also comes with an optional shaded part that can attach to the top of the float for extra protection from the sun.
- Baby powder
Luckily about a week before we left for the beach, I read somewhere that baby powder is great for getting sand quickly off of babies. And it’s true – just sprinkle some baby powder on your baby and the sand will brush right off. So much better than rubbing the sand with your hands to get it off and irritating your baby’s skin in the process!
- Travel baby monitor
While we love the baby monitor that we use in Leo’s nursery, it’s not great for travel because it has a limited range. Our house is significantly smaller than my parent’s beach house, so if we’re in certain parts of the house, that monitor is out of range and we have to relocate so we can check on Leo. Before this trip, we purchased a secondary monitor that is perfect for traveling due to its design (it can easily wrap around a pack ‘n play or crib, rather than mount on the wall or sit on a flat surface), and it runs on wi-fi which connects to an app on our phones so we can access it anywhere. This has completely changed our ability to do things while Leo is sleeping because we can go out to the hot tub or swim in the pool but still be notified as soon as Leo wakes up from his nap.
- Travel noise machine
Leo sleeps with a noise machine every night at home to drown out the noise that occurs while he is sleeping. Since he goes to sleep at 6:30 or 7:00 pm, a lot happens after that time! Anything from making dinner, to watching tv or playing a game, to hanging out with friends, can cause all sorts of noise that would likely wake him up if it weren’t for our noise machine. That’s why a travel noise machine is a must for us, to make sure Leo gets a full night’s sleep while we are traveling.
Do you guys have any recommendations or must-haves of your own that you always bring when you travel with baby? Tell me in the comments below as I’d love to hear other suggestions and your favorites!