This post has been updated for 2019!
Every year my family takes a beach vacation. This has become a tradition for us starting before I had children. As all parents know, a trip the beach before children and after is extremely different.
The first year I tried to go to the beach with my baby I did not know what I was doing. Three babies later, and many beach trips, I think I have the basics down.
I took my last baby when she was 8 weeks old and it went great. For that reason I am going to share some of my tips for taking a newborn baby to the beach.
These tips also work for babies of any age, of course.
I could write plenty on traveling with children, traveling with a breastfed baby, and traveling with multiple small children since I have tried it all. But one of my easiest trips to date was when I had a four year old, two year old, and an eight week old baby.
While newborns require constant care and contact, at least they are not running away from you and trying to get into everything. Now that my children are all a little older I look back on those newborn days fondly.
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 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 rocker under our tent is more than enough.
A place for your baby to lie in the shade on the beach is key.
For sleeping while traveling with a newborn, a bassinet or pack n play 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 rocker 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 rocker works well too but I preferred the stroller due the height and additional canopy coverage.
There are also UV protected swimsuits and clothing you can buy but my baby was not swimming and those items can be hot. I preferred to dress her in light cotton and keep her in the shade.
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.
Nursing friendly swimsuits are amazing. I have had a few and they make access much easier. Especially if you are wet from swimming, we know how swimsuits can cling.
I have a few nursing friendly swimsuit 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.
I am not sure if this exact pillow is still available but there are many types you can buy which can help. Anything you have to support your newborn while breastfeeding can help make your vacation more relaxing for you.