A beach holiday with a baby is an ideal vacation idea for the whole family. Tired parents who take a beach vacation with their baby will love the relaxing sounds of crashing waves and palm trees swaying in the wind. Your baby, on the other hand, will love playing in the sand and water at the beach or at the kiddie pool at your baby-friendly beach resort.
While the benefits of a beach holiday with a baby are great, there are a few safety and health concerns that new parents should prepare for. A family beach holiday often takes place in a tropical destination. The sun is very powerful in the tropics, so you’ll need to take extra steps to protect your baby’s skin and body from the effects of the powerful sun.
As usual when traveling with a baby, 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.
While sun safety is important when taking a beach holiday with a baby, there are a few other things to be aware of. If your beach vacation with a baby is in a tropical destination, there are additional tropical safety concerns to be aware of such as diarrhea, tropical diseases and insect bites.
Before your family vacation, we encourage you to read our safety tips for a beach holiday with a baby.
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Safety Tips for a Beach Holiday with a Baby
Beach Vacation with a Baby – Sun Safety Tips
The area between the Tropic of Cancer (in the northern hemisphere) and the Tropic of Capricorn (in the southern hemisphere) is known as “the tropics”. This area is at the most direct angle to the sun and therefore receives the most intense UV radiation on the planet. The tropics includes some of the world’s most popular beach destinations including Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and the South Pacific.
Read more on visiting Hawaii with a Toddler!
While the power of the tropical sun in a concern, there are effective ways to protect your baby from the sun. Here are eight safety tips for taking your baby on a beach holiday:
1. Use Approved Baby Sunscreen
When you packing for a family beach holiday, sunscreen is one of the first things that comes to mind. But what about your baby? Can a baby use sunscreen? It typically depends on the age of your baby during your beach holiday…
When Can a Baby Wear Sunscreen?
It is generally not recommended to use sunscreen on your baby if they are under 6 months old. But why shouldn’t you use sunscreen on a baby 0-6 months old? According to the FDA, an infant’s skin is at greater risk of side effects from the chemicals in the sunscreen, therefore increasing the risk of side effects, such as rash.
For babies who cannot use sunscreen, the FDA recommends avoiding direct sun exposure. This may sound like a challenge on a beach holiday with a baby, but our list of baby beach essentials has many recommendations which make avoiding sun exposure easier.
If direct sunlight simply cannot be avoided, consult your pediatrician to determine whether sunscreen is right for your baby.
Sunscreen for Babies over 6 Months Old
Your family beach holiday becomes a little easier when your baby turns 6 months old, as they can now typically wear sunscreen safely. Liberally apply an infant safe sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 (or higher) to all exposed skin areas. Apply sunscreen to your baby at least every two hours, or more frequently if they have been playing in the water or are sweating.
2. How to Avoid the Sun on a Beach Holiday with a Baby
The tropical 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 for your family to grab some lunch, check out the kids club at your beach resort or go back to your hotel room to 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 (which can be tough to do with palm trees), so we recommend you create your own shade with a baby beach tent.
The good news is that families taking a beach vacation with a baby have a built-in advantage. While the late-night partiers are sleeping in until noon, take advantage of your early morning by going to beach as early as possible. Tropical beaches are stunning in the morning, and they are usually nearly deserted, giving your family plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a day of fun at the beach.
We know many of you want to come back from your family beach holiday with an awesome tan. Given that babies with tans are not cool, a good strategy is to take turns with your spouse watching the baby during nap time, while the other hits the beach for a little fun in the sun.
3. How to Keep Baby Cool at the Beach
Keeping your baby cool at the beach is essential. Thankfully, there’s some useful baby travel gear to help:
Once rare, UV protected sun tents for babies are now standard for families taking baby to the beach. 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.
A portable mini-handheld stroller fan is also essential gear for keeping your baby cool at the beach. Stroller fans with tripod grips allow you to keep your baby cool anywhere you want; on the stroller or in the sun tent. Look for a USB rechargeable stroller fan to avoid having to pack extra batteries on your family trip.
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.
4. Sun Safe Baby Beach Clothing
Dressing your baby in specially designed baby beach clothing helps protect your baby’s sensitive skin from the sun – the more skin you can cover the better. We recommend the following baby beach clothing for your beach vacation:
Swimsuits for Babies
There is a wide selection of sun safe swimwear for babies. The best choice is a UPF 50+ one piece rash guard swimsuit with long sleeves, a tall collar and built-in UV protection. We’ve used sun protection swimwear on our kids for years and we are very happy with the level of sun protection.
Sun Hats for Babies
A baby swimsuit with good skin coverage is a good starting point, but you also need to protect your baby’s face from the sun. 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.
The final piece of recommended baby beach clothing is baby-friendly sunglasses with UV protection.
See all our recommended baby sunglasses and best sun hats for babies.
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 frequently offer them breast milk or formula to ensure they get the fluids they need to stay healthy on their first beach vacation.
Signs of dehydration in a baby include redness of the skin, fussiness, less frequent urination or excessive crying.
Beach Holiday with a Baby – Tropical Health Tips
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 destination specific 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 before your beach holiday with a baby:
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 of the popular tropical beach 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 insect repellent with less than 30% DEET on babies. 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 insect repellent to their hands, given fingers 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 beach holiday with baby? Learn more about these great baby-friendly beach destinations:
More Baby Beach Vacation Resources
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.