Please Keep Your Hat On!

 So here I am at the beach! Each day when I take my walk I watch parents with little ones. After all, that’s my field and it makes me smile. I can’t tell you how many times I hear a parent say “please keep your hat on,’ come here so I can put sunscreen on, hold my hand.” These are just a few things parents are trying to accomplish to keep their babies and toddlers safe at the beach.  

Here are my favorite tips to make a day at the beach easier:

  1. Be prepared. Before you even think about loading everyone into the car, make sure you have what you need. Sunscreen, buckets, shovels, beach shoes, extra swim diapers, wipes, plastic disposal bags, beach towels, wash cloth, hats, sunglasses, snacks, water, dry clothes and his favorite lovey for the ride home.
  2. Before you leave, wet a washcloth and put it in a sealed baggie. Great for wiping the sand off those little hands, feet, faces, and yes, tongues when they taste it!
  3. Slather on that sunscreen as well as putting your little one’s swim diaper and swimsuit on at home. This will make your life easier. Struggling on the beach is just not fun.
  4. Once at the beach, choose a spot far enough away from the water so you won’t be running to move things when the tide changes.
  5. Bring a beach umbrella or beach tent. Sunburns can happen in minutes.
  6. Put on your little one’s hat, those sensitive heads burn easily. If he takes it off, redirect. A toddler’s attention span is short, try handing him the bucket, shovel or another beach toy should make him forget about his hat!
  7. Give him a little time to get used to the beach. Even though you’re excited to show him the ocean, running to it immediately can be pretty scary to a baby or toddler.
  8. Let him play in the sand with his bucket and shovel. Fill the bucket up with water and once he figures out how to dump it out, you will be making many trips to the ocean’s edge to fill it up. Great exercise and so much fun for him!
  9. Once he’s comfortable with the beach, gently carry your baby or toddler down to the water’s edge. Put his feet in while holding him. If excitement happens, hold his little hands and put him down standing or sit him down with you next to him.
  10. If your toddler wants nothing to do with the ocean, don’t force it. Back to playing in the sand and loving it. Someday he will put his feet in the water, I promise. You don’t want to set up an unnecessary fear.
  11. Make sure to offer him lots of water, and if the hangry’s set in, (angry because he’s hungry), offer a snack. A screaming toddler on the beach just isn’t fun!
  12. When it’s time to head home, change your toddler’s clothes and diaper. Riding home in a wet, sandy swimsuit is just not comfortable.

*My use of him or her refers to all genders.