I know that in exactly one week it will officially be fall, but that gives me juuuuuust enough time to squeeze in this post. At the very least, it’ll be useful for someone next year. 🙂
We go to the beach every year (OBX, I hope you’re all doing okay down there!) and being due in May, we knew we’d be braving our very first family beach trip with a pretty tiny infant. Here’s the secret:
Don’t. Do. It.
Kidding! Totally kidding. 🙂
While it was much different than the trips we have gotten used to, it wasn’t the horror story some people make it out to be. We got so many comments like: “should you really be taking such a small baby”, “make sure he doesn’t overheat” and “he can’t” and “you can’t” and “can’t”, “can’t”, “can’t”. Which leads us to our first lesson.
Everyone’s a critic – trust yourself.
Life is going along, you have it figured out and you get pregnant. BAM! Everybody has input and you’re doing everything wrong and that’s not the way they did it. Guess what? It never stops. Trust your own instinct, call your pediatrician and make your call. Somebody doesn’t like it? Tough.
Keep the car organized and plan for frequent stops.
Make sure to pack the car in a way that you can easily find what you or your baby needs – you don’t want to be an hour down the road with a poo-plosion and realize that all the diapers are packed in your babys’ luggage. We kept our diaper bag (fully stocked with the entire days’ worth of diapers and formula) right behind the passenger seat for easy access. On that same note, be prepared to stop often (and sometimes get in the car and get right back out ten minutes later). Your baby needs a break from being in the car seat so make sure you stop for a reasonable amount of times for feedings and diaper changes. We found that having Elias out of his seat for about 20 minutes (including feeding, burping, changing and a little stretching and play time) each time we stopped kept him much happier than immediately putting him back in.
Babies are surprisingly tolerant.
He won’t nap on the beach. He’ll be uncomfortable because of the sand. He’ll be hot. Wrong. Wrong. And (mostly) wrong. Don’t assume your baby won’t this or that. Let your baby be your guide and I’m sure you’ll be surprised.
Sleep is a beautiful thing.
The first three times on the beach, Elias was asleep. Granted, two of those he was strapped into the baby carrier, but that third time? He went right out under his tent and didn’t move until we packed him up to go inside for the day. The fourth time was a bit different and upset my husband, but mama knew our boy was just over exhausted to begin with and fought sleep with everything he had. But guess what? Once we got him to sleep, he slept for close to three hours. Lesson one : make sure your little is well rested before heading out. Lesson two: your baby will 1) take naps on the beach and 2) most likely sleep a good portion of beach time.
Find your set up rhythm.
I can feel you rolling your eyes, but we struggled so hard the first time on the beach and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. It’s a lot of extra stuff to set up and watch for: you can’t lay the baby down on the sand, you can’t lay the baby down without shade, you have to make sure you don’t get sand all over the baby while you’re setting up, you have to watch the little crabs that are running all over your baby’s blanket…it’s just so much to have to think about.
Here’s what worked for us:
1) Set up an umbrella and beach blanket. In that order or you’ll most likely have to move the umbrella or blanket to get it shaded correctly. Now you have a safe place for baby to lay while you finish up.
2) Set up the permanent place your baby will be – be that a pack and play with an umbrella, a playpen or, what we opted for, a beach tent. Get baby settled.
3) Set up the mommy and daddy (and older kids) area.
Invest in some inexpensive extras.
A beach bag is a must. Don’t bring the diaper bag, you’ll regret it as soon as you set it in the sand. We also found that clear zip bags were a huge help in keeping Elias’ bottles, diapers and other odds and ends sand free. We used these, but plain, ol’ Ziploc will work too. We also brought a spray bottle to help keep Elias cooled down.
Have realistic expectations.
Don’t think you will have a 100% relaxing, romantic beach trip. If you need relaxing and romantic, leave your baby with the grandparents. We actually did get one night of just the two of us out for dinner because my aunt and uncle (who came with us) graciously offered to babysit so we could do a date night. (Did I mention I have the most awesome aunt and uncle? 😀 ) That being said, do expect early nights in, just not feeling up to even attempting the beach and fantastic memories with your child. Even if he does poop on the bed and you’re not sure whether to get the camera or clean it up as fast as possible.
Are there going to be meltdowns? Yes. Will you be terrified? Yes. Are there going to be days where it’s just not worth it to go to the beach? Yes. BUT… There will also be precious pictures of your baby totally knocked out looking like a proper beach bum. There will be funny moments of diapers so full of seawater that they literally drag your baby down. There will be so many memories to make with your kids that you’ll be planning your next beach trip as soon as you leave. 🙂
Did I forget anything? Leave your favorite tips below!