“Well they’re out there a’havin’ fun, in that warm California sun.” We weren’t going to California, but preparing to return to the Emerald Coast and the white, sandy beaches of Destin, Florida had me singing this tune, anyway. Quite fitting, when I thought about it, because we were heading “Back to the Beach,” and while we did not have Frankie Avalon or Annette Funicello in tow, we did have thirteen-month-old Nathaniel with us for our beach vacation for the very first time.
However awesome a destination we chose, this vacation required careful planning and packing if it was going to be the fun, relaxing getaway we all needed it to be. I ended up calling a friend that had just taken her baby and toddler to the beach, and then I proceeded to research and read several different blogs with tips and hints on taking baby to the beach. I kept wishing I could just go to ONE place and find out all the tips and tricks I needed, so I am going to attempt to provide that ONE place for our awesome readers before you guys head to the beach (or back to the beach) with baby. You’re welcome!
After thinking about all we brought to the beach and everything we did at the beach, I decided it all boiled down to the two big “S’s” – Schedule and Supplies! Printing this blog, or just the sections below, may be all you need to plan for a wonderful beach vacation with your baby.Of course, your family and your trip is unique, so the schedule and the lists presented may need to be adjusted to fit your family’s needs.
One of the biggest components to our successful beach trip with Nathaniel was the schedule. We pretty much stick to a schedule and routine at home, and Greg and I thought it best to make sure we did everything we could to keep him on schedule as much as possible throughout the trip. Everything from the time we decided to head to Florida, to the time we decided to head back home, and everything in between was strategically planned. While everything didn’t always go according to plan, having our base schedule as a foundation for each day really helped.
A typical day at the beach with Nathaniel looked something like this:
8:00 a.m. breakfast
9:00 a.m. play in his play yard in the condo living room, take a walk in the stroller
10:30 a.m. nap
12:00 p.m. lunch
1:30 p.m. beach/pool time or mall time
3:30 p.m. bath and afternoon snack
4:00 p.m. nap
5:00 p.m. dinner
6:00 p.m. if out to dinner, still at dinner; if at the condo, we may have been enjoying an evening stroll on the beach or playing with him in his play yard while watching a movie
7:30 -p.m. p.j.’s, bedtime stories, and bedtime bottle
8:30/9:00 p.m. to bed for the night
In keeping as close to this schedule as possible, Greg and I were able to spend quality time with each other and Nathaniel. We also got the occasional moment to ourselves! For instance, one day during nap time, I stayed in the condo while Greg went for a solo swim. Likewise, several times during our beach/pool time I swam on my own while Greg played in the sand with Nathaniel.
Keep in mind this is the schedule that worked for Nathaniel and is developmentally appropriate for a thirteen-month-old. You would need to alter this schedule based on what works for your child and also what is developmentally appropriate.
Keep in mind, also, that it didn’t ALWAYS work. On the drive in, we hit traffic we didn’t expect, ate dinner very late, and then we were at the grocery store very late because we didn’t want grocery shopping to cut into our time beyond the day we drove in. There was the day he fell asleep in the car after leaving the mall, so we had to just keep driving around Destin and the surrounding area so he could get his full nap. Then, there was the very long wait at the restaurant we went to for Father’s Day, which made our evening late, also. It wasn’t perfect, but trying hard to keep the schedule made for a happier Nathaniel, and, in turn, a happier mommy and daddy!
The very first thing you need to figure out when it comes to supplies is how much you want to bring with you and what you want to buy when you get there.
We decided to rent a crib and rocker/glider from a local crib rental company, and decided to pack up the truck with EVERYTHING else. What do I mean by EVERYTHING?
For baby at the beach:
- beach cart (This is the beach cart we used. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, and I can’t thank the friend who told us about it enough!!)
- large umbrella
- small ice chest (for snacks and sippy cups)
- beach ball
- sand toys
- inflatable baby pool
- baby pool floaty
- beach bags
- beach towel
- disposable swim diapers
- swimsuit shorts and shirt
- baby sunscreen
- waterproof blanket
- water toys to play with in the pool
- water socks/shoes
For baby in the condo:
- large, foam floor mat tiles
- play yard fence
- favorite toys & books from home
- gate to block off stairs
- favorite dvd’s/cd’s from home
- inflatable baby bath tub
- a few favorite bath toys
- travel size toiletries
- baby monitor
- all medicines
- enough sets of bath towels, washcloths, clothes, diapers, wipes, & diaper cream for double the time of your stay
- cool mist humidifier
- baby blankets
- favorite stuffed animals/loveys
For baby at meal time:
- portable high chair
- nursery wipes
- hand wipes
- sippy cups
- food you know they like and will eat
- formula/milk & juice
For baby on the go:
- fully-stocked diaper bag
- high chair/grocery cart cover
- snacks, music, & toys just for the car
My final and maybe most important tip is to adjust your expectations. This was a word of advice when I read about other couples going on a beach vacation for the first time with their babies. It is not going to be, and it is not supposed to be just like it was before you had a baby. Everyone can and probably will have a wonderful vacation, but it will just be different. Expect it to be, and you will not be disappointed!
P.S. Don’t forget to pack your patience, flexibility, and most importantly of all, your sense of humor!!