beach essentials with baby

Admittedly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the beach. Odd, because I grew up on the beach and have always, always lived on the coast with beach access nearby. It’s just easier to hit the pool and a whole lot less sandy, so that’s what I always wanted to do growing up and into my college years. Since getting married, Brandon and I love going out on the boat, but Watson does not. No sir, no thank you. I mean, I get it. A squishy life jacket that’s hot, having to sit on mama’s lap the whole time while the boat is moving…  it doesn’t sound all that enjoyable. But the beach, that is a different story. He loves everything about it—the wide open space to run around, all the people to see, the toys, feeling the water… he just loves it all! So, I’ve grown a new appreciation for it too and I would go every day if I could. Well actually, I technically can, so maybe I’ll start! 😉

But as we all know, heading down to the beach is never quite as easy as you imagine it. Yes, I’m talking about all the stuff. The chairs that are flopping open as you carry them, the towels that seem to get sandy before you even sit on them, the toys that are falling out of your bag, the beach umbrella that blows away, the sunscreen that is sticking to everything, the sand that is already getting in all your bags, and so on. Then add a child to the mix and it all gets a whole lot messier!

So, in an effort to make the process a little more seamless for everyone, we figured out the best products to make getting set up at the beach totally stress free. We now have our list of beach must haves and we pretty much stick to the same things every time. Any more and it becomes a hassle. Any less and we will be missing out on something. So, here’s our list!

First, a wagon. For rolling everything I’m mentioning in this post down to the beach. This collapsible one is the best thing since sliced bread. It fits in the car so easily and then we just pop it open to pull everything down to the beach. It fits everything inside, makes for a nice way to store everything at the beach because it keeps everything off the sand. It even makes for a fun toy once we are on the beach. Watson loves his wagon rides. (Until he refuses to do anything but stand up in it and look over the edge… and then I pull him out. Never ends well!)

The right kind of chair. Not all are created equal. All of these boxes must be checked for me: comfortable, breathable (so, made out of a mesh material), and easy to tote (a carrying strap is a must if they don’t fit in the wagon, which ours do). These are the ones we have now and I love them because they have arm holes for if you want to lay on your belly, an extra piece that pops out if you want to kick your legs up, a cup holder, a carrying strap, and multiple seating position options. That said, I really love the little $20 from Walmart too—like these.

Music. Music just makes everything better. A simple Bose system like this is just the ticket.

An easy-carry cooler. For water, juice boxes, beer, food… whatever you fancy. We have this cooler and it is so easy to tote and open up. The bigger coolers are just hard to carry!

Toys. Watson loves all the basics you find sold in a set at Target. Shovel, sifter, buckets, etc. This is a great set!

Lots of towels. We always take extra. Some to sit on at the beach and some that stay clean for drying off or for the car.

Sunscreen. I try to avoid any sunscreen that contains the harmful chemical, oxybenzone. So we always use Beautycounter Protect Sunscreen on ourselves and on Watson! I also love this lip balm and this face stick. Rash guards that have SPF built in are also wonderful, which we used last year, but we haven’t used one this year because Watson is extremely hot natured and it’s already 90 degrees here! Plus, we’ve never had any red spots get through thanks to the Beautycounter sunscreen.

Babiators. Did you know you can literally sit on these baby sunglasses and they won’t break? Just ask Brandon. They stay on baby’s face so much better than typical sunglasses. Lots of colors available here.

Big sunhat. I love this one because it covers the back of the neck and has a little elastic pull so that it fits perfectly along the scalp. (Doesn’t require chin ties to stay on.) Plus, it’s kind of adorable.

Note: The hat Watson has on here is NEWBORN size, haha! I was a slacker on our first beach trip of the year and hadn’t ordered his new size yet. So that’s why it isn’t fitting on his head very well. 🙂

Tailgate Tent. Sometimes we use a tent and sometimes we don’t. Just depends on how long we plan on staying on the beach, but in my opinion, a tailgating tent just works the best! The baby tents are awesome, but even when we used one of those, we had to layer a tailgate tent on top of it because it just didn’t give quite enough shade. (This combo worked really well for a little baby, by the way!) This is the one we have and as long as you have two people to set it up, it pops up really easily, doesn’t blow away, and keeps plenty of shaded space for everyone. (It may seem a little extreme, but I’m telling you, it’s worth the price and the few minutes of extra time to set up!)

Baby powder. For dusting sand off of little hands and feet once you get back to the car. It helps tremendously. Also for loading on with each diaper change so that sticky sand doesn’t irritate those little wet bums.

Disposable Swim Diapers. I’m writing so that I’ll remember to take my own advice next time. Just don’t bother with regular diapers because one plop in the water and you’ll need to change it. Last year we had Watson in one of these reusable ones and it worked very well! We took an extra one with us each time just in case of an accident.

Gallon of water. Don’t go and buy one, just refill an empty milk jug with water from the tap. This is for rinsing off hands or faces. Or pacifiers that fall in the sand. It will fit just fine in the wagon and you’ll be so thankful to have it if sand gets somewhere you don’t want it. (Which happens every time.)

Another thought if your baby is a little younger than Watson… I’ve heard that the Stokke Flexi-Bath makes for the best miniature pool for babies at the beach! It’s great because it folds down flat before and after use.

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5 Comments

  1. June 7, 2017 / 9:00 am

    This is so helpful, Megan! I live in Raleigh, and my husband and I love taking day trips to Wilmington, but the idea of taking our son (he’s eight months old now) this summer has been making me feel so anxious! Will definitely be saving and referring to your recommendations 🙂

    • holycitychic
      June 7, 2017 / 8:37 pm

      So glad it is helpful to you. If your baby boy is like Watson, he will have a BLAST when you decide to go and then you’ll be itching to get back asap!

  2. Lauren
    June 10, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    I live in Wilmington and we just started taking our 5th month old to the beach. Great advice! One thing we had even before baby (but definitely need now with) was a cool cabana instead of a tent or umbrella. They are life changing. Ha.

  3. Lindsey
    June 13, 2017 / 8:13 am

    We bought a Cool Cabana this year and it is wonderful! You put sand in the corners of it to hold it down and it doesn’t move even in high winds!!! It takes about 5 minutes or less to set up and much easier to carry than the tailgate tent!

  4. Mary Claire Lenhardt
    June 20, 2017 / 7:55 am

    Hi Megan! Love reading your blog. We have three children under the age of 4 and I just wanted to add one thing to your beach essentials. My husband and I are both from Charleston and we grew up going the beach and I agree with you about the pool! So much easier. I always would opt for the pool with our children until I discovered the HELIO portable pressure shower. It will change your life. We rinse everybody off and change them into dry clothes before heading home. Worth every penny. Total game changer. 🙂

    https://www.rei.com/product/882468/nemo-helio-pressure-shower

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