For Memorial Day weekend Beard and I took Bitsy Girl to the nearest beach. We had taken her to the Outer Banks last summer, but she was only about 8 weeks old and really couldn’t absorb what was going on around her. This time we chose Smith Mountain Lake, a fairly local man made lake with tons of shoreline. The Smith Mountain Lake State Park has a nice little beach, and since Beard never works Tuesdays, we thought that would be the best day to avoid crowds and help our little Girly enjoy the sand, sun and water.
Here are some highlights:
While packing to take a baby to the beach for the very first time I had lots of things running through my head. I’m a first time mom, remember. I had visions of my daughter being carried away by an undertow (of which there aren’t any at this particular body of water) or her eating fistfuls of sand and ingesting some nasty garbage along with it. I wanted to have everything we would need.
At the same time, I have minimalist tendancies, and I want to really only carry what I would find absolutely necessary.
So for those of you taking a trip to the beach soon with an infant or toddler, I’ve come up with a few things that really are essential to everyone having a good time:
- Sunblock. I really like Coppertone, and I would never use less than SPF 50 on Bitsy Girl. She is not a particularly pale baby by any means, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I let her get a sunburn. While we’re talking about sunblock, might I remind you that proper sun protection includes a hat, some sweet shades, and maybe even a sun cover-up (big T-shirt). I always bring a hat for the Bits, and if you have a more pale baby, a sun cover-up wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Swim diapers. If baby is going to be in the water at all, these work wonderfully. They are a bit pricey, but they are most definitely worth the extra cash. They don’t get puffy and soggy, and they hold in urine very well. My friends tell me they don’t do a great job with solid wastes, but I have no personal experience to back that up. We used Huggies Little Swimmers because that’s what our local grocery store carries. I was amused by the little Minnie Mouse cartoons on them, and they did their job just fine.
- First aid supplies. If you are going out with a baby or child it is always a good idea to have some bandages, antibacterial cream, water, and maybe peroxide on hand. Since we were going to a State Park with a visitor center 20 feet from the water, we omitted this from our packing list.
- “Toys”. Why in quotations? Because anything can be a toy. I grabbed a few of Bitsy Girls non-plush, non-battery-operated toys, then a few plastic cups and food storage containers. At her age, she likes to fill up and dump cups with all sorts of things, including sand. Beach toys do not need to be expensive, large, cumbersome, or unitaskers. They can be anything that can be cleaned off and you don’t mind getting a bit wet and sandy.
- Towels. You don’t need a million, just one or two. Usually if it’s warm enough to go swimming, it’s warm enough to sit comfortably outside while wet. Baby won’t be catching a cold from being wet, so don’t be obsessive about drying every inch of her.
- Water and snacks. As a family, we never, never, never buy food “when we get there”. Not only is it not usually in our budget, but food at concession stands isn’t really known for its nutrient content. Of course we bring some treats along, like Goldfish, but I like to know what it is we’re putting in our bodies. I also like to bring plenty of water; you never know what the water tastes like when you get there, and I will not by bottle water for $3 each.
You may notice a few things missing from this list that you normally bring to the beach. Swimmies or a flotation device, perhaps. Although those can be nice to have, I would hardly classify them as necessary. If you hold your child the entire time they are in the water (which is not difficult due to water’s great buoyancy), you won’t need a flotation device. And, of course, I would suggest you always hold your baby or toddler at all times when in the ocean, even if they are wearing a flotation device. Currents and undertows can carry away a small floating child much more quickly than you think.
That pretty much covers it, folks. Some things you could pile into one duffel bag is all you need to take your favorite little person (or people) to the beach. I hope this post helps you to breath, relax, and enjoy the fun in the sun with family and friends.