Healthy Travel Tips for Beach Vacations with Infants5 min read
Going to the beach is one of the best family getaways you can take, even if you have a little one who can’t quite enjoy the surf or build sandcastles yet. The fresh air and laidback time together as a family can do wonders for everyone’s mental and physical wellbeing. Traveling anywhere with an infant involves a bit of preparation to make sure that your baby is safe so you can all relax and enjoy the day.
Whether you’re heading to the nearest lake, coastline or jetting off to a Caribbean island, be sure to keep these infant beach vacation tips in mind.
Sun safety is the most important thing to consider for an infant beach vacation. Babies up to six months of age shouldn’t wear sunscreen. This means they shouldn’t spend any time in direct sunlight, according to the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Luckily, there are plenty of great UPF swimsuits available for infants that keep your baby’s skin covered and protected while also keeping them cool. An infant sunhat, with 50+ UPF, venting, a wide brim or a flap to cover the back of the neck, and a drawstring closure to keep it secure, is a must.
It’s important to be realistic about how much sun exposure baby will likely get. If you have a long walk from the car to the beach, or you’re planning to hang out in the shallow waters without shade, it may be better to cover any exposed skin with a baby-safe sunscreen. As always, speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Keep an eye out for signs of overheating like a rapid heartbeat or red skin (particularly on the ears) and a sweaty neck. If you suspect your infant might be overheated, offer them more fluids and cool them down with a cold water sponge bath. To avoid overheating, keep baby in the shade of an umbrella or consider bringing a small tent with you to the beach if you want to spend the day there. A portable fan is handy for keeping baby cooled off and helping them nap. When transporting your infant to and from the car, choose a baby carrier that allows for optimal airflow, especially if it’s a bit of a trek.
Know the ocean
Can you bring your infant into the ocean with you? Pediatricians generally recommend waiting until babies are 6 months old to bring them into the water with you. There are a few reasons why. Infants (especially those under 2 months) have an immature immune system that might not be able to cope with the abundant bacteria found in the ocean. They also have a harder time regulating their body temperature in colder ocean or lake waters.
If you’re visiting a beach that is new to you, be sure to research whether there are any particular dangers, like rip tides or sneaker waves. In addition, learn what may be lurking in the water. You want to be aware of jellyfish, red/green tides, sea urchins, etc. Injuring yourself by impeding your ability to walk could endanger both you and baby, especially at remote beaches or if you’re alone with your infant.
Beware of wind
In addition to being cautious of the sun while at the beach, you also need to be mindful of the wind. It’s windier by the coast and the harsh winds and blowing sands can be harmful to your infant’s sensitive skin. This is one of our favorite reasons to bring a tent to the beach with you when you have an infant in tow. They also make specialty outdoor bassinets for younger infants.
Breastfeeding moms of infants need to take special care during a beach day as well. This includes staying extra hydrated, so be sure to have plenty of water or electrolyte beverages on hand. Breastfeeding moms also need to be cautious about what they’re applying to their own skin. Choose a breastfeeding-safe sunscreen. When you’re trying to be extra safe with sun exposure, these UV detectors are great for knowing when to reapply.
Don’t forget to bring:
- Formula and fresh water (or any applicable breastfeeding/pumping supplies)
- Baby food (if needed)
- Safe sunscreen for you (especially if you’re breastfeeding)
- Diaper changing materials
- Umbrella/tent/portable bassinet
- Any pre-nap ritual items like books, portable sound machines, etc.
- Change of bathing suit and extra clothes so they’re not hanging out in a damp suit if they get wet
- Portable fan
- Baby-friendly lotion for moisturizing after a day in the sun/sand/saltwater.