I just returned from our family’s annual beach vacation to the Outer Banks. This has become a tradition for us starting before I had children. I have made the trek now for the last five years with a baby in tow. As all parents know, a trip the beach before children and after is extremely different!
I could write tons of tips on traveling with children, traveling with a breastfed baby, and traveling with multiple small children. I may write all about it, but my most recent trip reminded me of last year when I took our annual vacation with a four year old, two year old, and eight week old. While an eight week old is older than two or three weeks, it’s still a newborn to me, and hence the tips for taking a newborn to the beach.
I got through it, and it was one of my best trips to date. While newborns require constant care and contact, at least they are not running away from you and trying to get into everything. My experience this year with an almost 14 month old was probably more exhausting in a different way.
Tips for taking a newborn to the beach:
These tips are more for a beach vacation but of course you can modify for a day at the beach too.
Pack what you need but don’t overdo it
Diapers, wipes, diaper cream, plenty of burp cloths and swaddles, outfit changes. These are the items you need with a newborn. Since the clothes are tiny, bring as much as you can because with all the spit ups they are going to be getting changed a lot. To save a little room on packing, you can always buy more diapers and wipes at your destination. I also like to bring some kind of portable white noise, there are apps for your phone which do this.
Now for the overdoing it part. I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with my baby on the beach and brought a baby beach tent, a rock n play, a Bjorn baby bouncer, and a stroller with bassinet. This was too much, a baby beach tent is great if you need a safe spot to lay your baby down, but if you have an additional canopy or tent it may be redundant. I found using a stroller or rock n play under our tent is more than enough.
For sleeping while traveling with a newborn, a rock n play or bouncer is all you need. Both are not needed. I actually love this age for travel because you don’t need all the big gear yet, and they sleep so well in small devices.
Here’s the biggest concern for the beach…a newborn cannot be exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes and cannot wear sunblock, so something which blocks UV rays is a must. When I went to the beach in the past I used my rock n play under the baby beach tent.
This most recent time I used my stroller which had a bassinet with a large UPF sun canopy. I then placed the stroller under our entire tent. This was perfect for the beach for a few reasons, it kept her completely shaded and covered, it allowed her to sleep comfortably, it kept her high off the ground so no sand to deal with or other kids kicking sand on her. A rock n play works well too but I preferred the stroller due the height and additional canopy coverage.
Easy access for breastfeeding
I breastfeed on demand so at eight weeks that was a lot. I wore a top with my swimsuit so I could easily pull it up, pull the top down, and nurse her right on the beach. Having a comfortable beach chair helps.
Having a breastfeeding friendly swimsuit also helps. I have a few suggestions here but they are not always necessary, it depends on how easy breastfeeding access is with your swimsuit.
I was able to breastfeed my baby on demand and then set her in her bassinet stroller, and have fun myself. I did not feel tied down or have trouble with it at all. Keeping one clean blanket around to use and keep sand off my baby helped too. I love light muslin swaddle type blankets for the beach.
Wear your baby
When it’s time to get out of the house, or go for a walk on the beach having a hands free baby carrier is a must. I have used many kinds of carriers and they all work well, you can read all about baby wearing throughout my website.
A nursing pillow
While you don’t need a nursing pillow, I have a travel one I have used for years. It is extremely handy from the newborn stage till about six months. I used this one every day on my beach trip and it was more than worth it.