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8 Sun Safety Tips for Babies on a Beach Vacation

A beach vacation with a baby is perfect for the whole family. Tired parents will love the relaxing tropical scenery of the beach, while babies will love playing in the sand and water! But the sun is powerful in the tropics and there is rarely shade on the beach, so you’ll need to take extra steps to protect your baby from the sun.

Having the right gear is essential to keeping your baby safe in the tropical sun. To protect your baby from the sun, you’ll need the right baby beach clothing, approved baby sunblock and a sun shade for babies to keep your baby cool in the sun.

Sun safety for babies is a primary concern of new parents, but there are a few other things to be aware of. If your beach holiday with baby takes you to the tropics, there are additional tropical safety concerns to be aware of such as diarrhea, tropical diseases and insect bites.

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Sun Safety for Babies

The tropics includes some of the world’s most popular beach destinations: Hawaii, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. The area between the Tropic of Cancer (in the northern hemisphere) and the Tropic of Capricorn (in the southern hemisphere) is at the most direct angle to the sun and therefore receives the most intense UV radiation on the planet.

While this should concern you, there are effective ways to protect your baby from the sun. Here are eight safety tips for taking your baby on a tropical beach holiday:

1. Approved Baby Sunscreen

Sunscreen for babies under 6 months old: It is generally not recommended to put sunscreen on your baby if they are under 6 months old.

Why? Their younger skin increases their exposure to the chemicals in the sunscreen, therefore increasing the risk of side effects. If direct sunlight cannot be avoided, consult your pediatrician to determine whether sunscreen is right for your baby.  

Sunscreen for babies over 6 months old:  Your older baby can now safely wear sunblock. Liberally apply an infant safe sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 (or higher) to all exposed skin areas. Reapply at least every two hours, or more frequently if they have been in the water or are sweating.  

See all our baby beach essentials here.

2. Sun Protection for Babies

The sun is most powerful between 10AM – 2PM and it is advised that you keep your baby out of direct sunlight during this time. This is a perfect time to grab some lunch, check out the indoor play areas at your resort or put your baby down for a nap.

If you can’t be indoors during this time, try to find a shady spot under a tree or create your own shade with a baby beach tent.

Also take advantage of your ‘unusual’ schedule – while the late-night partiers are sleeping in until noon, go to the beach early in the morning when there is no one around. As a bonus, this is when the beach is at its most beautiful, nearly deserted with the sun hanging low in the sky. 

Not happy about missing the tanning opportunity? Take turns with your spouse watching the baby during nap time, while the other hits the beach for a little fun in the sun. 

Dreaming of Fiji? Here are tips for a Fiji family holiday with a baby and toddler.

3. Keeping Baby Cool at the Beach

Keeping your baby cool at the beach is essential. Thankfully, there’s some useful baby travel gear to help:

UV protected sun tents for babies are now a common sight on beaches around the world. Beach tents give your baby room to lie down for a nap or to crawl around and explore. The best baby beach tents are lightweight and optimized for easy travel.

If your baby naps well in a stroller, use a CoziGo stroller cover to keep the sun out. It is 100% breathable with a UVP 50+ rating.

A portable mini-handheld stroller fan is also very useful for keeping your baby cool at the beach. Models with tripod grips allow you to use it anywhere you want; on the stroller or in the sun tent. Look for a USB rechargeable one to avoid having to pack extra batteries on your trip.

4. Sun Safe Clothing for Babies

Use clothing strategically to protect your baby from the sun – the more skin you can cover the better. There are a few items you should be sure to bring with you to the beach:

There is a wide selection of sun safe swimwear for babies. The best choice is a UPF 50+ one piece sunsuit with built-in UV protection. We’ve used sun protection swimear on our kids for years and we are very happy with the level of sun protection.

 Sun hats for babies which stay on are is also essential to protect delicate faces, ears and necks away from the burning rays of the sun.

And finally, don’t forget baby-friendly sunglasses with UV protection.

See all our recommended baby sunglasses and best sun hats for babies.

Beach vacation with baby - sun safety

5. Keep Your Baby Hydrated

Babies are at risk of dehydration in the heat as they don’t sweat as effectively as grown-ups. Be sure to offer them breast milk or formula on a regular basis to ensure they get the fluids they need to stay safe.

Signs of dehydration include redness of the skin, fussiness, less frequent urination or excessive crying.

Tips for Keeping Your Baby Healthy in the Tropics

The most common health issues reported amongst children travelers are diarrhea, skin conditions (insect bites & sunburn), malaria and respiratory disorders.

It is strongly advised that you seek advice from a professional specializing in travel illnesses prior to booking your trip, but in the meantime here are a few things to think about:

6. Baby Diarrhea Prevention

Given diarrhea is often caused by food or water, breastfeeding is the best way to reduce the risk of diarrhea for your baby. If your baby is formula fed or on solid foods, ensure that all water given to your baby has been disinfected and that all food has been cooked to a safe temperature.

Peel all fruit immediately before eating and ensure that all dairy products have been pasteurized. Be very careful and thorough when cleaning items which will enter your baby’s mouth, such as pacifiers, bottles, etc. Again, ensure the water being used to clean is disinfected.

Babies with diarrhea become dehydrated more quickly than adults so make every effort to keep them hydrated. Seek medical attention if you see signs of dehydration, blood in the diarrhea, temperature greater than 101.5°F (38.6°C) or persistent vomiting.

7. Malaria and other Tropical Diseases

Thankfully, most major tropical tourist destinations are free of diseases, such as malaria and dengue. It is very important that you learn what the risks are for your destination, as babies are at a higher risk of complications than adults.

It is especially important to seek professional advice on prevention for the whole family prior to travelling to an area where risks are present.  

8. Insect Bites

Insect repellent is generally acceptable for use on babies older than 2 months. Read the label on your product very carefully for any stated usage limitations on babies.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using repellent with less than 30% DEET. Avoid applying repellent to open cuts, hands, eyes, ears, mouth, etc. as this will allow it to enter the body of your baby. Also avoid applying it to their hands, as they will always end up in your child’s mouth. Wash your baby thoroughly with soap once you have returned indoors.

Finally, be aware that the use of insect repellent on top of sunscreen reduces the effectiveness of the sunscreen by up to 33%. 

Baby Friendly Beach Vacations

Still planning your family beach holiday? Learn more about these great baby-friendly beach destinations:

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