taking a newborn to the beach

Taking A Newborn To The Beach: Considerations + Essential Gear

(I may earn a small commission on the products mentioned in this post.)

If you’re looking for newborn beach gear and tips you’ve come to the right place. Having a newborn is a wonderful thing, however it brings with it new challenges and life adjustments.

Late Friday nights with friends are out, instead you’ll be waking up at all hours of the night.  You can also forget spontaneous trips and weekend getaways as you’ll be packing for, and carrying, an extra member of the family.

If you’re reading this article you’re likely planning a trip to the beach and curious about the logistics of taking a newborn.

Is it even possible?

We admit taking a newborn to the beach won’t be easy but we’ll help provide some considerations and newborn beach gear that will add protection.

Can I Take My Newborn to the Beach

First things first – Beach Life Expert doesn’t provide medical advice and your decision to take your baby to the beach should be shared with your doctor.  A general rule that we’ve heard is that babies under 6 months should not have much sun exposure.

Once you have permission there are a few important things to consider. In this article we’ll share our insight. Please add your experience in the comments below!

Family Fun At The Beach

I’ve been on a lot of beaches and it’s fun to see young kids enjoying the sand and in the water. In exotic locations, I rarely see newborns or infants because traveling is so difficult, however closer to home, they’re a common sight.

On the Central California Coast parents bring a newborn to the beach and walk with them on their back or sit in the shade while older kids run around. The babies are outside, enjoying the environment and best of all they’re getting fresh air.

There are a few things you’ll want to prepare for when planning your trip to the beach. A newborn doesn’t make things impossible but it certainly takes more preparation than sandals, a swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen.

Below we’ll go through a checklist of things to consider before taking a newborn to the beach. Let’s get started!

Related: Best Beach Gear You Need Newborn babies and essential beach items

Considerations For Taking A Newborn To The Beach

  • Walking to and from vehicle

In most cases, you’ll be parking and walking to the beach. Few of us are lucky enough to live on the beach – although you might be renting a beach house for the week. If you’re parking you can plan in 2 ways.

  1. Get to the beach early to find the closest parking spot possible. In my experience, if you arrive at the beach before 10 am, you’ll do pretty well and make your trek brief. Arrive at 11 am or noon and it will be a fierce competition to find a place let alone park.
  2. Understand that you’ll need some sort of cover for your newborn as you walk to the beach. A blanket, hat, and umbrella will all work – just make sure you have something.
  • Direct sunlight

Human skin begins burning after about 20 minutes of sunlight, depending on the time of year and elevation sunburn could occur more quickly. Baby skin is not yet fully developed and cannot withstand the same sun that a child or adult can handle.

Of the worst things you can think about is “My skin is ok so my baby’s skin must be ok too” – this is wrong. Know that for the first 6 months of life, your baby’s skin lacks melanin – the pigment to protect from the sun.

  • Reflective light

This is an important one! Just because your baby is sleeping under a tent doesn’t mean he/she is protected from the sun.

In fact, indirect sunlight reflected from the water and sand can still damage your newborn’s skin.

If you’ve ever been skiing you’ll understand this concept because many people get sunburned while skiing.  The reason is because of the sun’s reflection off the snow.

  • Time of Year

The time of year is also important. In the middle of summer, the sun is closest to Earth. As a result it has the potential to damage skin more quickly.

The temperature could also be more extreme. If you have a newborn, consider planning your trip earlier in summer or later in summer to hopefully get more mild temperatures.

  • Heat index

The heat index describes the comfort or discomfort level based on the combination of temperature + humidity.  You can easily search for the heat index for most beaches in the U.S.

We suggest keeping a close eye on the heat index if you’re taking your baby to the beach because a baby’s comfort level won’t be as resilient as an adult.

You can also plan on going to the beach in the morning or in late afternoon when temperatures are cooler and the sun’s UV radiation is less intense.

  • Humidity

High humidity can make 90 degrees feel like 110 degrees. If you ask anyone on the West Coast they talk about their high temperatures and say “But it’s a dry heat”. Heat doesn’t feel as intense without humidity but it can still cause the same sunburn.

Humidity should be monitored to ensure your newborn isn’t feeling to hot or uncomfortable – especially if he/she is wrapped up in a blanket to avoid sunburn.

Related: Best Beach Umbrellas

  • Feeding

You’ll likely need to feed your baby while at the beach. Will you bring bottles and the necessary items?

If feeding is necessary, make sure you have a comfortable place or chair to feed in. We recommend one of the beach baby tents below.

  • Changing

Similar to feeding, will you have a place to change your baby? Depending on how long you stay at the beach you won’t have the luxury of a changing station and a trashcan might be difficult to find.

A few extra diapers and a shopping bag to place trash is a great idea.  If you’re changing your baby at the beach is it ok to do under the sun and in the open?  That’s your call!

  • Shade

Shade is an obvious thing to consider. At the beach, there’s rarely shade so you’ll want to bring your own. As mentioned above, an umbrella or tent will help a lot.

We reviewed the best beach baby tents and the best beach tents for families. Read through them to find the best option for your family. For a newborn, a hat won’t be enough!

  • In the Water

Will your baby go in the water? If so, you’ll be carrying him/her. Do they have a suit (or do they even need one?). If you do decide to walk your baby to the water, be aware of kids playing, waves, currents, and the tide.

You’re unlikely to have an accident but be alert.

  • Wildlife

If your baby is left alone, wildlife at the beach could be interested and come in for a closer look. Whether it’s flies, or crabs, or a curious seagull, keep a close eye on the wildlife around you.

Seagulls are especially curious and are always looking for food. You don’t want a case of mistaken identity.

  • Sand

A handful of sand does not hurt a newborn, but a handful in the mouth might! I like seeing babies play in the sand but I wouldn’t want them chewing on it.

Sand also tends to heat up the in summer. Be aware of the temperature of the sand as it could also damage baby skin.

One of my favorite beach hacks is to dig a few inches under the top layer of sand and find cool sand below. If you have a tent, dig the area below the tent and it will feel cooler in the tent. Your baby will appreciate it.

Related: Best Sand Socks for the Beach

  • Rambunctious kids and games

Lastly, keep an eye out for kids having fun. There is nothing wrong with kids running freely on the beach, but I’m not sure how many times I’ve been run into while walking on the beach.

Kids run back and forth from the sand to the water. They also run around playing tag, football, or soccer. Most won’t realize you have a newborn with you.

Related: Best Beach Games for Kids and Adults

Essential Beach Gear for Babies

To help you out with beach preparations, we’ll share a number of items that work. From baby sunscreen to beach tents, there’s a lot of good beach gear for babies.

No. 1 Baby Sunscreen

Baby sunscreen is important but physicians recommended not using chemical sunscreens for the first 6 months. This makes sun protection extra important.

If your newborn is 6-12 months sunscreen might be an option but as a parent there’s always concern about chemical-based creams and lotions.

Even as an adult I’m weary of what I put on my skin.   Sensitive skin – like that of an infant – is prone to irritation and reactions. The last thing you want to do is make your newborn uncomfortable.

The local grocery store or pharmacy has a poor selection of natural sunscreens (if they even have any). And don’t be fooled, many sunscreen advertising as “natural” are far from it. We reviewed natural sunscreens to find the best cream for babies, adults, and the environment.

Our reviews found that Badger Baby Sunscreen was the best on the market. Even though it’s for babies I also use it on my sensitive skin – apply generously and every hour!

No. 2 Beach Baby Tent (changing station)

If you’re spending a few days or more at the beach, a baby beach tent should be on your list. These small beach tents provide shade that your baby can rest under.

It will also be large enough for 1 adult to find shelter from the sun.  We really like the Schylling baby beach tent’s quality and the fact it’s a lightweight pop up tent (pictured left).  It opens on its own.

A baby beach tent will be more than just shelter. It will likely help with feeding, changing, and be a place where families can store their valuables – out of site from passersby.

One of our favorite hacks that we mentioned above: dig a hole for tent to find cooler sand below. You can read our review for the best baby beach tent here.

No. 3 Beach Baby Hat

If your family is all about style then you can get a combination of protection + style. This “I Play” baby beach hat protects the face, head, and neck and comes in a variety of colors for boys and girls.

It’s made of lightweight polyester and has an optional tie to use under the chin. With beach hats and clothes, remember that darker colors actually do a better job with UV protection – this many seem counterintuitive since darker colors absorb heat and can get hot. This hat provides 50+ UPF.

No. 4 Baby Swim Trunks

Baby swim trunks earn additional style points at the beach. Even though your newborn won’t be frolicking in the sand and water, he/she can still look good in the shade.

If all that is needed is a diaper cover for swimming then Nageuret Reusable Swim Diaper is a well-reviewed beach item for babies.

If your baby has surfing in his/her future get them started with a fun rash guard for the beach. We like UV Skinz Baby Swim Suit.

No. 5 Baby Sunglasses

The best baby sunglasses come from Tuga Baby They have adjustable straps and a hard carrying case. These are not a gimmick and actually work well for the family that spends a lot of time outdoors.

Whether at the beach, on a hike, or lounging by the pool, these glasses have great reviews from almost 600 satisfied customers. They must be doing something right!

No. 6 Infant Beach Chair

This item also happens to be the coolest baby beach gear on our list. I’m already imagining an infant in this chair with sunglass and a swimsuit – it’s fun and funny at the same time.

The best infant beach chair comes from the Summer Infant brand. They have green and pink chairs that easily fold up for storage.

It also has a handy tray for snack time. If you want a fun baby accessory for the beach, this might be a good idea. In addition to the beach, park, and backyard, it can fit on a chair indoors.

It won’t help with your newborn’s posture, but it’s great for being outside. 1000’s of customers like it and recommend it!

Can I Take My Newborn in the Water

Another question we’ve heard is “Can I take my newborn in the water”. Once again our first recommendation is to speak to a medical professional, however a little bit of saltwater on your newborn’s skin shouldn’t be a problem.

You won’t want to swim, but standing in the beach while the tide ebbs and flows is likely the perfect place to be.

Be aware of the water temperature and waves. Also, keep a close eye out for rocks, seaweed, and evidence of jellyfish on the beach. A jellyfish sting will injure a baby much more than it would an adult. Finally, know that your baby might be afraid of the ocean initially.

A safer option is to fill up a few buckets of water and create a play area higher on the beach for your baby.  This will keep them close by and away from harm from waves and other kids.

Related: Beach Essentials for Women

Conclusion

Taking a newborn to the beach isn’t easy, but it’s possible with the right newborn beach gear. You’ll want to consult your doctor for specific concerns but the main obstacle is protecting your baby from the sun and high temperatures.

Depending on your newborn’s age, sunscreen might be out of the question. If so, this makes skin protection much more important. Remember, it’s not just the sun shining down that can hurt your baby, it’s also the reflection off the sand and water (a hat won’t be enough).

Additional considerations should be given to walking from your car to the beach, the sand, wildlife, and children playing in the sand. We’ve provided a few helpful items that will help protect your baby, but there are likely other things to plan for that we missed.

Thanks for reading Beach Life Expert. We hope this article on newborn beach gear and tips helps you and your family as you plan a trip to the beach.