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Time at the beach is what summertime is made of. If you’ve got a little one, you might wonder how you can have the best time in the sand and sun while keeping them happy and safe. Here are some helpful baby beach essentials and tips to enjoy the best beach day with your baby.

Safety is the most crucial priority, any time, anywhere. The beach is no exception.

Your baby beach essentials & tip 1: Sunscreen

Toddler applying sunscreen to arm

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Babies older than 6 months of age, or as directed by your pediatrician, may wear sunscreen. Using barrier sunscreens, with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, is more gentle on baby’s sensitive skin and there are many formulations specifically designed for children and babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding sunscreens with oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor.

When applying sunscreen, be thorough and don’t forget the often missed spots like the back of the neck, between fingers and toes, and ears. Reapply frequently and after water exposure. A helpful tip for applying sunscreen to your wiggly little human is to use a makeup brush or sponge. It allows for a smoother application and kids have more fun with it. Once your little one is a toddler, they can even start to apply their own sunscreen this way.

Many sunscreens come in a variety of applicators from sprays, liquid, sticks, and foams. Preference may be personal, but whatever you choose, ensure that you apply enough sunscreen to adequately cover and protect all areas.

Some favorite sunscreens:
Think Baby, Super Goop, Babyganics, Aveeno Baby, Babo Botanicals

Beach setup ideas below: Sun protection

Two boys setting up beach umbrella

Since babies under 6 months cannot wear sunscreen, it’s important to practice safe sun exposure. Keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible by using physical protection like umbrellas, sun shades, and UV protective clothing. Even for babies who are able to wear sunscreen, practicing safe sun protection is still vital as their skin can burn far more quickly than adults, resulting in potential serious sunburns, heat stroke, and dehydration.

Having access to shade is important when being outdoors with your baby. If you don’t have natural shade, bring the shade with you to the beach. Beach umbrellas, tents, and baby sun tents are great baby beach essentials. This baby-sized beach tent is a fabulous option and even has a mini pool option. Bonus points for attaching a small, portable fan or mister to keep a cool breeze for your little one.

Baby sitting on the beach wearing a bucket hat

UV protective clothing is helpful for protecting your little one’s skin from harmful sun exposure. Long sleeve rash guards and sun hats have become ubiquitous on all little (and big) kids at the beach, pool, and splash pads. You can protect your baby’s eyes with adorable (and functional) sunglasses to keep sand out as well as potential damage from the bright sun.

Water Safety

Baby playing in puddle-style kiddie pool with mom watching.

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As much fun as it can be to splash about in the surf, please keep in mind water safety tips. The tides of the ocean can change quickly so always keep both hands on your baby if out in the water, even if only an inch deep. If possible, have a second adult with you in case of an emergency. Never enter water that may be questionable. You will also want to be cautious of anything that could be in the water or buried under the sand, like jellyfish and rays.

A fun way to reduce risk and let baby have fun splashing about is to bring the water to you. Using a baby pool, like this baby beach gear folding one or this puddle-style one will allow more control over the safety of the water (no currents or risk of floating away!). You can keep the baby beach gear (pool) at your chair and umbrella set up and have everything you need within arm's reach.

Keep Hydrated

Mom breastfeeding on the beach

The sun and heat really take it out of you, and your baby as well! Make sure that they are staying hydrated by taking in additional liquids. Breastfed babies may need to nurse more often than usual. Babies at the beach under 6 months of age do not need to drink water, rather you can give them more breastmilk or formula as typically prepared.

Babies over 6 months of age may have some water in addition to formula or breastmilk. For babies who are eating solids, keep plenty of hydrating and nourishing snacks on hand in a cooler, along with water bottles for the rest of the family. Freeze yogurt or squeeze pouches ahead of time and chilled, juicy fruits are both cooling and energizing.

Baby beach gear priority: Toys

We’ve covered the safety aspects of fun in the sun. Now it’s time for the FUN part. The toys! You might not be surprised to learn that your baby really doesn’t need many specialized toys for the time at the beach. (As most parents have observed, they love to play with the cardboard box that the presents came with as much as the actual toys themselves) Having a few go-to beach and sand toys can set your little one up for endless fun. Our top baby beach toy essentials picks are:


Baby on the beach with a sand bucket

Babies love to transfer things from one place to another and dump things out. Having a few different buckets, scoops and cups will give them plenty of opportunities to explore the texture of sand, weight in various containers, the sensation of falling sand, and what happens when water is added to the mix. This beautifully colored set is made of food-grade silicone, while this one is fun and playful.

Sand Funnels

Girl playing with a sand funnel on the beach

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A moving funnel is a delight to play with both sand and water. Watch as it spins, trickles, and tumbles from level to level. Your baby will love exploring these baby beach toys and the different ways it moves.

Dump Trucks (don’t forget these beach essentials for baby)

Kid's toy dump truck filled with sand

Kids love vehicles and these dump trucks are a sure hit. Rumble these over the sand, watch the different tracks that they make, scoop and shovel, bury them, and watch them float or sink in the water.

Once you’re ready to pack up for the day, toss your toys into a mesh bag to help toss out any sand. To help get sand off of yourself and your baby’s little rolls and folds, a little dusting of cornstarch or talc-free powder will help encourage the sand to slide right off.

Your day at the beach may look different with a baby in tow but it’s bound to be an experience. With a few tips, adjustments, and safety tips, you and your babe are ready for a fun sunny adventure!

By: Erin Pasquet
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Childbirth Educator
Certified Lactation Counselor
Pre/Post Natal Yoga Teacher