Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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Once you have a baby, so many things about your world, in which you are constantly living in; so many things completely change. While babies do fill our hearts with so much joy and a love that is purely indescribable, it is no secret to any parent that babies do come with their challenges. While I am coming up on one whole year of motherhood, I feel like the past year with my son has been a giant learning experience and I am sure that will only continue as he continues to grow and get older.
One thing that most definitely changes after having a baby is vacation. My husband and I made a significant priority and effort to travel as much as we could throughout the eight years of our marriage before having our son. Those seven years of adventures are a time of our life where we would not trade for anything. Of course, now with our son, who is a week away from turning one; it was so important to us to not be afraid to travel, simply because things may feel a little more challenging.
We just returned home this past weekend from a FULL week at the beach with my family for our annual Carson family summer beach vacation at Hilton Head Island. While in Hilton Head spending all the time in the sun, the sand, and the waves and of course soaking up the most precious family time, I kept getting questions over on Instagram about all the beach with the baby things. So, now that I have officially unpacked and reflected on the past week, I am here to give you everything you need to know about what to take with you when you are bringing your baby to the beach. Your must-haves for traveling to the beach with a baby!
In order to make this guide on the must-haves for traveling to beach as effective as possible for you, I have linked as many products as I could that were essential to our beach vacation. If you happen to make a purchase from any of the links that I have listed, I do make a teeny tiny commission off of that purchase. I do want to say, from the very bottom of my hearts, thank you for making a purchase from my links as it does allow me to continue to pour my heart and creativity into all things gracefulandfree.
It can be so incredibly overwhelming when traveling in general to be sure that you have all the things that you need. Going to the beach with a baby is no different. Therefore, I want to clearly tell you first, that you don’t need all the things, nor do you need all the gadgets. We decided to go the more simple route and everything worked out just fine. As always, in parenthood, and of course, when traveling with a baby, keep flexibility in mind. Be flexible and adjust as needed.
First things first, when traveling to the beach with a baby, you definitely want to make sure you have proper swimwear. We were at the beach for an entire week and I packed Macrae a total of four swimsuits. I decided to go with the rash-guard option for all four of the swimsuits as they had built in SPF. My personal favorite brand of swimsuits for little baby boys is the brand RuggedButts. They have excellent quality suits, built in SPF and fit really nicely. I sized up.
Additionally, I am always a lover of all things H&M, especially when baby clothes are considered, and purchased an adorable dinosaur swimsuit the week before we left for the beach and it was absolutely adorable. H&M suits (and baby clothes) in general tend to run a size bigger, so keep that in mind when ordering. The H&M suit was a little big on M, but that was okay with me as I wanted him to be able to wear it longer.
It is ESSENTIAL to be sure your baby has the proper swim diaper on, especially if you will be swimming in a pool. The last thing any parent wants is to be the one responsible for shutting down a pool due to an accident. Even when M was properly snug with his swim diaper, I was still overly anxious about this! We used both reusable swim diapers and the disposable Pamper swim diapers. Personally, I loved the reusable swim diapers more because I felt like they had a more snug fit and were more secure.
The only downside to the reusable swim diaper is, well, it’s reusable. So if you don’t mind the clean up option, I definitely recommend the reusable option. Here are a few of my personal favorite reusable swim diaper options that M has and that we love:
It can be very easy to feel overwhelmed when planning for your beach vacation with your baby. Please know, you don’t have to be overwhelmed. You don’t need nearly all the things you think you need. I felt like we stuck to the basics. My parents brought with them to the beach a beach tent that was highly rated on Amazon and for really good reason. It was perfect for providing just the right amount of cover and shade for M to play in, but still allowed for plenty of beach views and breeze to blow in.
On our trip to 30A, just the three of us, in February, we brought with us an actual sun tent, and truthfully we did not love it. Things were just really, really hot in there. Maybe if your little one is really little it may be a good option for you, but not for our very active boy.
Something that may be a really good idea for your beach vacation with baby, especially if you are planning on wanting to attempt to spend a few hours each day uninterrupted on the sand – bring a blow-up baby pool. We blew it up the first day and then just carried it to and from the condo each day after that. We filled up the pool with a little bit of ocean water and stationed the baby pool under the tent. This provided a great home base for M, as well as a playpen of sorts. We filled the pool up with his beach / bath toys and it was a great place for him to hang out and play.
Disclaimer: M is very, very active and constantly likes to move, plus he always is looking to crawl to Mama wherever she is. Therefore the pool worked great for us in short little 10 minute bursts when my parents and sister were engaging with him and his toys. Regardless, it was a great option that also allowed for him to cool off and splash in the water.
This baby chair is another great baby must-have find. It is one of the highest ranked baby chairs on Amazon. It is portable, so easy to carry (and to clean) and comes with a tray to make feeding and eating on the beach easy. It does sit low to the ground, which made it easy for M to stick his hands in the sand while he was eating his hummus. Bonus tip: hummus is not the ideal beach snack as we learned the hard way – hummus and sand were EVERYWHERE.
One more thing before moving on to baby transportation needs. On our earlier beach trips with baby we utilized our pool float significantly. This trip, we spent majority of our time at the beach, therefore when we were in the pool, M just wanted to be held and passed around between mom and dad. However, I love our pool float that we have been using and wanted to include it here on this must-haves for traveling to the beach list. Another quick buy from Amazon. Also, it is super easy to blow up!
Another really important thing to consider when you are planning a beach vacation with your baby is transportation. Specifically, transportation to the actual beach. Think ahead of time, how are you planning on bringing your baby down to the actual beach. If you are staying in a condo or a house on the beach, you may have to walk a little bit of ways until you actually get to your beach camp for the day.
Are you planning on carrying little babe in your arms? Are you going to want to have a stroller? Do you want to wear baby in a baby carrier so you can have free arms? Definitely think through this ahead of time so that you can be sure to be fully prepared.
Majority of our days on vacation, we put M in the BOB Jogging Stroller and carried him to the beach that way. I LOVE our BOB jogging stroller, it is amazing and I highly recommend it. The wheels are incredibly heavy duty and it was definitely manageable pushing through the sand (manageable, but absolutely a hamstring workout; that’s for sure!)
When my husband and I took our son on his very first beach vacation to 30A back in February, when our son was 7 months, we used the baby carrier when traveling to the beach. We had a bit further of a walk that included a lot of stairs. The benefits to both the baby carrier and the stroller are that they provide a great place for baby to nap while on the beach. Almost every single day on our beach vacation in Hilton Head, M took his first nap sitting in his stroller.
If you only take one recommendation from this entire Must-Haves For Traveling To The Beach With A Baby Guide – please, let it be this! Buy a wagon that you can use to bring all the things to and from the beach. We purchased our beach wagon from Dick’s Sporting Goods earlier this year and it was absolutely worth every single penny. The wheels are heavy duty, making it doable to pull through the thick sand.
We used our beach wagon to carry our beach chairs, the cooler, my beach bag, the beach toys, and Macrae’s beach chair. This made everything SO much easier and I highly recommend getting yourself one as well.
A few more great additions to bring with you as you travel to the beach with your baby – a beach hat. I personally loved ours, other than the fact, most 11 month olds love playing the game of taking their hat off their head. As well as beach toys. You really don’t need to go overboard here, I just brought with us a very basic sand pail and shovel set. I also just added some bath toys from home. The sand pail and shovel were a BIG hit though!
One more thing you definitely want to consider in planning and preparing for your beach vacation is how you want to feed baby while on the beach. For me, I am still nursing my son, so it was very easy (and freeing) to be able to nurse him while on the beach as needed. Plus, swimsuits are the most nursing friendly item of clothing. If you are bottle feeding then I recommend to bring a portable bottle cooler.
Additionally, the portable bottle warmer by The Baby’s Brew is a complete game changer. We have taken ours with us everywhere since M was born. It is a chargeable, portable bottle warmer, therefore as long as it is charged, you can warm up your bottle anywhere without needed any sort of electrical outlet. I have a code for you to use as well – use code: GRACEFULANDFREE15 to save you 15% off your purchase! You also can purchase an adaptor to use with whichever preferred bottle baby loves most!
M is obsessed with drinking water, therefore our baby Nalgene that we bought specifically for this trip was our most used item. Additionally, these snack containers are fabulous and allow for an easy way to transport snacks, such as the beloved and favorite puffs, without them going everywhere.
Every morning we made M and slice of cheese toast (cheddar cheese baked on a slice of bread) and cut it up and kept it our cooler. This was a really easy and mess-free meal he enjoyed while on the beach!
I truly hope this Beach Baby Essentials was super helpful for you. My hope was that it could take a little bit of the load off of you and reduce your stress as you pack for your first trip with your baby. As stressful and different as the beach vacation may be, I promise you it will be so incredibly worth it. Watching M explore, splash and play at my most favorite place in the entire world was something that filled my heart with the most amount of joy possible. Wishing you and your family the absolute best beach vacation!