My favourite place to be is the beach. Pre-babies I would have visions of what it would be like visiting the beach with my children. They’d play happily in rockpools, jumping waves and building sand castles. At 13 months, this glowing vision is gradually beginning to emerge from the at times hilarious, at times very stressful reality of taking babies to the beach!!
The Summer after my babies were born was really hot. So hot that it quickly became impractical to carry both babies together in my beloved Weego Twin carrier; the combination of our 3 bodies’ heat was, I believed, too hot; and so sadly our adventures had to be made in places suitable for a pram, or when I had someone else with me. On the weekends we made the most of having my husband around, and switched to individual carriers (BabyBjorn) which enabled us to go off-piste without overheating.
Our idea of a trip to a beach is a quiet, remote beach where we can relax away from the crowds. This inevitably means at least a short hike over uneven terrain not suitable for prams. The carriers enabled us to visit our favourite beaches with the babies.
Because of the hot weather, we worried about the babies overheating a lot; to the point of paranoia! We invested in a beach tent with UV protection and dressed the babies in light clothing, and found that the breeze usually made the coast the best place to be to stay cool.
With babies in the front carriers, we could each wear a backpack stuffed with nappies, wipes, change of clothing, hats, suncream, towels and food & drink for us. More often than not, lulled by the sound of the waves and the breeze, the babies would fall asleep in the tent leaving us to take it in turns to go for a swim.
As with most things, as the babies got older trips to the beach got messier! They discovered the joy of eating sand, crawling into rockpools, using wet sand as a dip for their carrot sticks, and mixing sand into their suncream. My car is covered in a perma layer of sand, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Once our babies outgrew their front carriers we bought backpack carriers from Macpac which they LOVE and have the added bonus of lots of storage so only one item to carry.
Our trips to the beach aren’t restricted to Summer; we visit all year round. Winter brings its own challenges; trying to keep the babies warm and away from the dogs which are only banned between April & October on our local beach. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard ‘oh he’s very friendly’ when a stranger’s dog has bounded up to my babies; I really don’t care if he’s friendly or not; his jaws could kill them in one little nip so keep them under control or on a lead please!!!
Here are some things I always consider when visiting the beach:
- Tide times: annoying to make a car trip then hike to a beach only to find the tide is in and there’s no sand to pitch the tent on.
- What to take in Summer: suncream (I love Jasons – no nasties), sun hats, sunglasses (if they’ll keep them on), plenty of water for all, plenty of non-spoiling food for all, a beach tent, towels, several spare changes of clothes, nappies and wipes.
- What to take in Winter: warm hats, gloves, booties that don’t fall off (we struggled with this a lot); weather protection cream for the face; a puddle / splash suit; we love love love the girls hooded puddle suits from Tog 24.
- Consider access: if the beach is accessible by pram, i.e. If it has a slipway directly onto sand then fantastic!! If not a carrier is great but watch your step and wear sturdy footwear to get onto the sand – falling over with a baby on the rocks is not good.