Tips for taking your baby to the beach for the first time

Taking your baby to the beach

What should I take to the beach for a baby?

Getting prepared for even just one day out at the beach with your baby can feel like you’re packing for a small holiday. Here is your go-to-guide to the essentials you need to pack, and top tips for taking your baby to the beach (stress-free)!

If you are taking your baby to the beach for the first time, make sure you are fully prepared with this packing list of beach essentials.

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1. Pram, carrycot or stroller

Newborns should lie flat in a pram for at least the first three months, and until they can hold their heads up and sit up by themselves. This is important for infant spinal development and effective breathing.

If your baby is under three months old, you will need to take your pram, or a carrycot that clips onto your pushchair base.

If you have a lightweight foldable stroller that fully reclines, you can throw this in the boot of the car. This may be more practical for days out, instead of taking your ‘main’ pram or travel system, which may be bulkier and heavier.

You may find it difficult to push your pram along the sand at the beach. If so, try dragging it instead of pushing it.

2. Sun protection for your baby

Sun protection is vital for young babies and children. According to the NHS, babies under six months old must be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin does not contain enough melanin to provide adequate protection from the sun’s rays.

If your baby is older, you should keep them out of the sun when it is at its strongest, typically between 11am and 3pm.

Your pram should have a hood, sun parasol or sunshade to keep your baby out of the glare of the sun.

Use a sun cream formulated for babies and young children, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. This must protect against UVA and UVB rays. Don’t forget to apply it prior to sun exposure and keep reapplying it regularly.

Take a large sun umbrella for shade at the beach. You can buy a foldable, family-sized pop up beach tent with UV sun protection that provides protection from the sun and wind, as well as privacy for nappy changes. It is also a suitable place to lay your baby down for a nap instead of the pram.

3. Baby clothes for the beach

Depending on the temperature, your baby may be fine wearing only a short-sleeved bodysuit with poppers at the crotch.

This is more practical and makes nappy changes easy and straightforward. It is so much easier than faffing about with fiddly ‘day clothes’ when you’re having a day at the beach.

A wide-brimmed sun hat, or a sun hat with a long flap at the back is essential for protecting your baby’s neck and shoulders from the sun.

You may wish to invest in a one piece swimwear suit with UV sun protection that blocks UVA and UVB sun rays.

4. Baby changing bag

You will need to pack your usual baby changing bag items, including:

  • Nappies, nappy sacks, thin foldable changing mat, baby wipes, nappy rash cream
  • Muslin cloths, milk feeding bibs
  • Dummies, small toys, teething toys
  • Hand sanitiser, tissues, sunscreen
  • Colic relief drops, teething gel
  • Plastic bag or wet bag for wet and soiled clothing

You may wish to pack a swim nappy and baby swimsuit if you’re planning to take your baby for a dip in the sea (keep to shallow water) but don’t forget to keep your baby out of the sun when it is at its strongest. Don’t stay in the water for too long, as your baby can quickly get cold. For an older baby, you can pack a baby swimming ring, armbands or a float suit.

Remember to empty out your changing bag when you get home. Stumbling across a used nappy or soiled clothing a few days later isn’t very pleasant!

5. Formula milk and feeding equipment

If you are not breastfeeding, you will need equipment for making formula on the go, including:

  • Sterilised bottles and teats
  • Pre-measured formula milk powder in a milk powder dispenser
  • Vacuum flask filled with hot water
  • Cooled boiled water

You can also take bottles of chilled formula milk in an insulated bottle bag that you have previously made. Find out how to safely make formula in advance. Take a travel bottle warmer if your baby is not keen on taking formula milk cold.

A more expensive, but more convenient way to feed formula on-the-go is to use pre-made formula, which does not need to be kept chilled and is safe to drink straight out of the bottle or carton.

Don’t forget to take sterilised baby bottles and teats with you.

If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby does not need any extra water during hot weather. If you are formula feeding, you can give your baby some cooled boiled water in addition to their usual feeds.

When your baby has started on solid foods, pack some baby food and a small plastic spoon, and healthy finger food snacks.

6. Beach towel or blanket

You will obviously need something to sit on, such as a large beach towel or picnic blanket. If you’re not a fan of sand getting into everything, buy a large sand-free beach towel specially designed to repel sand.

A useful hack is to use a fitted sheet as a beach blanket. Put bags and food coolers in each corner of the sheet, and pull the elasticated corners up around them. Then lay your beach towel on the sheet and you won’t get as much sand over all your stuff!

7. Essential beach items to pack for you

When you are busy thinking about the things you need for your baby at the beach, it’s easy to forget the things you need for yourself. Such as:

  • Wind breaks, extra beach towels
  • Drinks, food and snack
  • Swimwear, sun hat, flip flops sunglasses
  • Bank card or spare change
  • Sun cream, insect repellent, bite and sting relief cream, antihistamines
  • Plasters and a small first aid kit
  • Spray bottle filled with cold water, small handheld fan
  • Nursing cover if you are breastfeeding
  • A good book or magazine to read, iPad, headphones, bluetooth speaker

You may want to use a cool bag for your own food and drink, that you can fit in the basket of your pushchair or hang over the handlebars.

Don’t forget to ensure your mobile phone is fully charged with plenty of storage space, with a portable charger in case you run out of battery. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take those precious beach day photos with your baby. 

Things you need for taking your baby to the beach

If you are taking your baby to the beach for the first time, make sure you are fully prepared with this packing list of beach essentials. To summarise, you need:

  • Pram, carrycot or stroller
  • Sun protection
  • Spare baby clothes
  • A fully packed baby changing bag
  • Milk feeding equipment for breast or bottle feeding
  • Beach towels, picnic blanket, windbreak, sunshade
  • Drinks, food and and snacks in a cool bag
  • Entertainment
  • A small first aid kit
  • Mobile phone and portable charger

Essential baby information you may need

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Top tips for taking your baby to the beach