Living in Australia, hitting the beach might be considered one of life's greatest pleasures, but once you've had a baby it may feel like beach days will never be quite as relaxing again! From worrying whether you've got the right baby swimwear, to fussing over whether baby is too hot, too cold, just right or whether the sun is too bright, there's certainly a bit to stress about when beaching with a baby in tow.
Yes, it can feel like you're arriving at the beach with so much paraphernalia that you need your own porter, only to find you've forgotten one crucial bit of baby beach gear, meaning you have to turn straight around and head for home again.
Yet there's nothing I've taken more pleasure in than watching my own little beach baby fall in love with sand and waves. With a little organisation, beach days with baby CAN be stress-free and enjoyable. And to make sure your young family gets as much out of the beach as ours has, we wanted to create an essential beach baby packing list - available for you to download, print and keep near your beach bag, to ensure you get fuss-free family days on the sand..
What's On Our Must-Have Packing List for Taking Baby to the Beach?
Quality Baby Swimwear:
Even if you're not planning on taking baby for a swim, a quality baby swimsuit can provide a fantastic lightweight, breathable and sun-protective outfit for baby to enjoy the sand. A great baby one-piece or baby swim set will be designed to withstand sun, sand, and to dry quickly should baby get wet - essential for helping our littlest beach mates regulate their temperature and stay sun-safe.
Speaking of sun-safe baby swimwear: we've written extensively on the topic in our sun-safe guide, but make sure to look for long-sleeve baby swimwear styles, avoiding a low neckline, and for fabrics that are certified UPF50+. A full lining and snug fit will also help bubs stay warm, but you may also wish to consider layering on a light baby wetsuit for warmth.
PS If you can, we recommend bringing a spare baby swimsuit - especially if your little one will go in the water. We don't want bubs sitting wet and cold in their baby bathers!
Explore more of our baby swimwear guides:
- The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Infant, Baby & Toddler Swimwear
- Choosing Sun-Protective Baby Swimwear
- Discover our range of Sustainable & Sun-Safe Baby Bathers here
A Swim Diaper
Young babies certainly do poop a lot! If they're going to be sharing the water - especially an enclosed kiddy pool - with others, it's only fair that poop stays firmly inside a diaper! But typical nappies become quickly waterlogged when wet, becoming heavy and uncomfortable in the water. Swim diapers will keep the poop in, whilst letting liquid flow freely, and are often quick dry too. I wouldn't be a sustainable swim entrepreneur if I didn't also implore you to choose a sustainbly-made re-usable!
A Wide-Brimmed Hat and Sunglasses:
Sun protection, sun protection, sun protection: its the beach-side mantra of any Australian parent and for good reason, as baby skin is far more sensitive to the Sun than that of adults. Look for hats with a wide brim to cover little necks and ears. I personally find the an adjustable under-chin strap absolutely essential - your baby will almost certainly try and pull their off the moment you turn your back!
Did you know that babies under 6 months are not supposed to wear sun-screen? Despite being more vulnerable to sun burn, infant skin is also especially susceptible to rashes from the chemicals they contain. However, if baby is over 6 months old, high factor SPF - and plenty of it - is something you can't skip. Remember to apply liberally, and often.
Bring a Baby Beach Shade:
Whether it's a sturdy beach umbrella or pop up beach tent, when the Australian sun is shining fiercely (and even when it's not), you'll want to make sure that sensitive baby skin is in the shade as much as possible. Pro tip: make sure any baby beach tent is able to be kept cool and aerated, so baby doesn't overheat. This is exactly why experts recommend you do not try to create a beach shade by clipping a muslin across your pram's opening - as baby is liable to overheat due to lack of air flow.
A Swaddle or Muslin Cloth (especially if you're breast-feeding)
Talking of shade, if you're breastfeeding, you'll want to make little baby nose, forehead, fingers and toes don't get burned whilst you do so. I found a light-weight muslin swaddle an absolute essential for beach-side feeds, so I could be confident my daughter was protected from the sun, whilst not overheating.
A Portable Pram Fan:
Linked to the above, my favourite piece of beach kit when my own baby was small was a battery-operated portable pram fan that I could clip to her pop-up beach tent, or pram hood. On the hottest Australian Summer days, anything you can do to keep baby cool is going to help avoid more serious issues like heat-stroke, and make for a happier - and longer - beach day for you all
A Beach Poncho:
Your baby cannot regulate its body temperature quite like you can, making them susceptible to over-heating, and also catching a chill. Especially if your baby is going for a swim, a good water-absorbent beach poncho will help them dry off - and warm up - quickly, without relying on you to keep it on their body. On chillier days this extra layer is a brilliant way to keep them warm too.
An Esky or Coolbag with Plenty of Fluids, Snacks and Pouches
It's essential on hot Summer days that baby stays well-hydrated to avoid sun-stroke. And if you're breastfeeding, that means Mum must stay hydrated too! Especially if you'll be bringing formula, expressed milk or any snacks that can spoil in the heat, a light weight cool bag is also an essential bit of kit.
A Spare Change of Clothes, Diapers and Wipes
I can't tell you how many times I got so carried away with what my baby needed whilst on the sand, that I completely forgot about what she'd need when we got off it. A dry set of clothes and diapers and wipes will have baby doing the ride home in comfort, and save you a lot of fretting.
A Bag for Your Wet Baby Swimwear
And yours too! Don't let wet baby bathers make everything else in your beach sodden!
A Beach Mat or Towel to Sit On
Sand can get messy, and sand can get very hot. Giving yourself something cool to sit on, and keep all that baby gear from getting too sandy, will make your family beach day far more comfortable. Nowadays you can buy beautiful fold-away, sand-free rugs that mean you won't bring half the beach home with you.
Little Sandals or Beach Shoes
See aforementioned point about hot sand. If you have an older baby that's starting to walk or crawl, you'll want to make sure the sensitive soles of their feet don't get burned.
Floaties and other Water Safety Items
Whilst very young babies certainly won't be going independently into the water, it may give you comfort to ensure your baby has an inflatable swim vest or floatie on when you're in or near the waves. Arm bands or 'water wings' are designed for older children, so we'd recommend a buoyant vest for bubs.
Something to Play With!
After all, beach days are supposed to be fun! And the longer your little beach baby is entertained, the longer the whole family gets to enjoy the beach. Whilst baby might not be building sand castles and body surfing waves just yet, some easy to grasp toys like a little baby watering can or one of our eco-sensory books are perfect for some beach-side play.
Get your Baby Beach Packing List Download
Whilst heading to the beach of baby seems like it involves an awful lot of kit, with a bit of organisation it's easy to hit the sand with all the right gear in your beach band. Little Fishy Swim is committed to inspiring the next generation of little ocean lovers to fall in love with the water - so we want to make it as easy as possible for your young family to get out and enjoy the beach!
Just Save our Downloadable Beach Packing List below, download onto your phone or print and keep next by your beach bag! And don't forget to browse our range of Australian-designed and UPF50+ certified baby swimwear here.
More articles on this topic:
- How your Kids Swimwear Can Make or Break Your Beach Day
- How to Look After Your Kids' Sun Safe Swimwear