Easter holidays are upon us and as the weather starts to warm up in Jersey we all hit the beach! So I invited two Norland Nannies, who together run a bespoke advisory service offering tailored support to parents, to give us some advice on taking children to the beach this summer.
Are you planning a trip to the seaside this summer with your little ones? Here at Charlotte and Louise we have been gathering together little tips and tricks that are designed to make a visit to the beach with children as stress free and as fun as possible. As we all know, a trip to the beach with the little ones in tow is drastically different to the day’s pre baby. This article aims to alleviate any stress and help you manage your family and packing effectively, so that it’s enjoyable for all.
Before you go to the beach it is always worth doing a little research into the facilities, are there toilets? Changing facilities? A cafe? It’s also important to establish if there is some form of shade to take little ones out of the hot sunshine between 11am and 3pm (when the sun is at its hottest). If this isn’t possible then try and encourage them to play under some shade during this time.
Preparation is key, so make sure you have everything you need before you go. We recommend taking bags, bags and more bags. Bags that can be used to put rubbish and nappies in. Bags to put wet and dry swimsuits in. Bags to carry sand toys in. Bags for spare towels and bags for used, wet towels. Bags with spare clothes in and a bag for creams (bite/sting relief, sun cream, nappy cream). Your everyday shopping carrier bags are ideal for all these purposes as they are waterproof and squash down nice and compact! However we do have some other suggestions later on that you may find work well too.
Babies under 6 months old find it difficult to regulate their body temperature so making sure they stay cool is vital. Loose, cotton clothing that covers their legs and arms are important or a UV sun suit works well too. You can purchase these easily online or in most high street children’s clothing stores.
As mentioned previously it is important to provide your child with some form of shade so that they have time out of the sun to cool down. UV pop up tents are a great way to provide shade for the little ones, especially for naps. Be careful however, if it’s a windy day, you may need to weigh it down with your bags so it doesn’t blow down the beach! These tents can also get quite hot inside so lining them with towels or by clipping on a simple battery operated fan whilst your little one sleeps are easy ways to keep the temperature down. Alternatively, a simple parasol in the buggy or a large parasol for everybody to cool down are also good ideas.
Don’t forget the all-important sun cream! It is a good idea to apply sun cream on your little ones before getting them dressed in the morning so you are sure not to miss any areas. Then, once at the beach make sure you re-apply at least every couple of hours and just after they have been in the water (even if the brand says it’s waterproof). A little handy tip is to store your sun cream in the cool bag so if it’s a particularly hot day the lotion is a nice cool temperature to soothe and cool the skin.
Clothing is also an important factor. Make sure you have appropriate clothing as well as spare items for your child. Wide brimmed hats, ideally legionnaire-style with a flap on the back to cover the neck or a UV hat that cover the child’s neck and face as much as possible are essential. Once out of the water your child can get cold very quickly and depending on the climate you are in it is advisable to take a few spare dry swim suits to change into. Take several long sleeve t-shirts, leggings or trousers, socks and cardigans, things that are easy to get on and off. Babies and toddlers can lose heat quickly after they have been in the sea, particularly in cooler climates and will need to be dressed warmly afterwards. Using zip lock bags is a compact, easy way to store dry and wet clothes separately. Sunglasses are also a key item to make sure you have packed too, to protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Your little ones shoes should also be considered. If you’re visiting a beach that is full of pebbles and stones then lightweight neoprene type shoes with rubber soles are great buys. They can be worn in the sea and protect little feet from sharp stones or even hot sand when walking about. Equally jelly shoes are just as good although you need to be careful as some children find the shoes can rub if their feet get too hot or the straps are too tight. Crocs work well too. They don’t stay on as well as the other type of shoes but they rinse off easily and are great if your child has a slightly wider foot.
Taking lots of towels is a good idea too. We found the poncho styles with hoods are great for wrapping little ones up after they get out of the water but leaving their arms and legs free to carry on playing whilst having an extra layer on to keep warm and help hair dry quickly. You will also need towels to sit on and picnic rugs are great for something your little one can crawl around on to prevent getting lots of sand in unwanted places.
Think logically where you are going to set up camp. Try and be near some shade whilst avoiding being too close to the water front, you don’t want to have to move after a couple of hours when the tide comes in. Also make sure the area is as clean as possible and no hazardous items have been left lying around or washed up.
Windbreakers are really good at encouraging little ones to stay nearby and not to go wandering off as a clear “base” is defined. They are also great for preventing air-borne sand getting in little ones faces and protecting you all from the wind.
Don’t forget the all-important beach essentials of a bucket and spade. Beach toys to dig, explore and play with are a great ways to entertain your child on the beach. We also recommend taking bath books to play with as they can get wet and sandy and won’t get ruined! Stacking cups are a great option as they are easier for little ones to hold rather than full sized buckets. Trucks and diggers can be fun to play with at the beach too, transporting piles of sand and water to different locations. Carrying all of your toys and inflatables can sometimes be a hassle, so we like to use the large blue IKEA style bags. They fit lots in, are hard wearing, waterproof and sand brushes off them very easily. Depending on the age of your child you may need to take arm bands, rubber rings or other floatation devices. You can now buy UV zip up jackets with floats in that your child can wear in the water to help aid their buoyancy.
If you want to take your little one swimming and they don’t have much (if any) experience of the sea it is worth bearing in mind that this can sometimes be quite daunting for them, even if they have been in a swimming pool before. Make sure to stay in the shallows where you can hold them securely and you both feel safe. Don’t wade in too far as some parts of the water can become very deep quickly and the current can change rapidly. If your child enjoys going under the water in the swimming pool this may not be the case in the sea. Sea water is very salty and will not taste very nice if they get a mouthful of it as well as possibly irritating their eyes. Try not to stay too long in the water as babies in particular get cold quickly so keep a close eye on when they may be starting to shiver or feel the cold. If you find your child is nervous of the water and reluctant to go in at all, paddling and splashing about at the water’s edge can help them slowly get use to the water. Building sand castles and digging about in the sand at the water’s edge can get them use to the rhythm of the water and temperature. Be patient as this may take time and the last thing you want to do is frighten a child and put them completely off going in at all. There is plenty of time for them to grow and learn to love the sea. Remember, children can still get burnt in the water so keep on those UV tops and hats! If the water is a bit chilly it can also help to have another layer on them.
Taking a first aid kit is also advisable for any bumps or grazes that may occur during your trip to the beach. Hand wipes and anti-bacterial gel are also useful at the beach especially if you are planning to eat there or for after using the loo. If you have older children taking some loo roll can be quite handy as some beach loos can be notoriously ill equipped. If going with younger ones we highly recommend the Potette Portable Potty. It comes with handy bags that absorb and tie up easily for no mess and no fuss and can be disposed of easily. If your little one is still in nappies then don’t forget to take swim nappies too in case of those little accidents (these will need to be changed after each time in the water, so take a stock).
Babies, toddlers and children get hungry in the fresh air so make sure you take plenty of food, snacks and water to keep everybody fed and hydrated. Store food and drink in an appropriate cool bag with ice blocks in so everything stays as fresh as possible. If you are still breast feeding using the wind breaker that was mentioned previously can help protect baby from wind and sand whilst they are feeding, or alternatively find a nearby suitable location in the shade. If your child is on formula we find it is easier for a day at the beach to take the readymade cartons of formula. You can pour these straight into the carton and store in the cool bag when not being used. If your child is on solid food one of the main challenges of eating at the beach is keeping sand out of your picnic! Accept that sand will get everywhere. So if there are no cafes around, picnic it is. Hand one item at a time rather than a whole lunch box or buffet display – otherwise its sandy hands on all the food or food upside down in the sand. It’s however fairly inevitable, so try not to get too stressed! Rinse your child’s hands off with water and dry before eating. Use some anti-bacterial hand gel and try and place them in the middle of the picnic rug so hands don’t accidently slip into any sand. Make sure also they are under some form of shade, an umbrella or the tent so they can really cool off and recharge their batteries out of the hot sun.
Finally we leave you with one golden tip….talcum powder! Always carry a pot of talcum powder with you for whenever you need to clean sandy bodies. Make sure you child is completely dry and then carefully sprinkle talcum powder on the sandy areas. The talcum powder causes the body hair to stand up and the sand has nothing to cling to. The sand will then easily brush away with your hands or a towel and it will even get the sand that is stuck in all the hidden creveces! Do be careful however if using on small children. Hold the bottle away from them so they do not breathe in the airborne particles as you shake the powder out. A few airborne particles probably won’t harm your baby but if they were to breathe in an awful lot it could block their delicate air sacs in their lungs. Keep the bottle well out of reach so baby doesn’t end up playing with it and it going everywhere!
We hope you found this advice helpful for your next trip to the beach with the family. Just remember if this is your first trip it will be a totally new and different experience to your trips to the beach pre-children. It can be exhausting yet highly rewarding. Your little one may hate the water and sand completely or they may do the opposite and never want to get out of the water and be shoveling fists full of sand into their mouth! You just don’t know what to expect but that’s half the fun! What we will say is you will be making lasting memories for the whole family. Just remember these little ones are experiencing something potentially for the first time and simply seeing their faces and reactions can be reward enough. And with this handy Charlotte and Louise checklist you will have this routine down to a fine art by the time you go back for round two, we guarantee it! Good luck and just remember, life’s a beach!
For more tips, advice and childcare troubleshooting head to www.charlotteandlouise.com