Top 6 Tips for Babys First Trip to the Beach
Some of my favorite firsts have to do with water. I remember their first baths (he wanted to sleep instead, she was fascinated), I remember their first trip to the pool, and I remember their first trip to the beach.
Right around their first birthday, we were visiting friends and family in Milwaukee with our twins. We met to play at the playground at Atwater Park (one of my favorite spots in Milwaukee). I don't think we had any intention of taking them down to the beach, nevermind going in the water, but we did.
I don't think it is any secret that I love the beach. It is truly my happy place.
Lake Michigan isn't the ocean, but it is immense and beautiful. It is also very, very cold. It was a warm day, but we weren't sure how our kids would react to the cold water, the sand, or the waves.
Similar to introducing them to water in tubs and pools, here are some simple tips for having a happy first trip to the beach.
1. Take your time.
Most kids do not like to be rushed into things and if they are going to rush they want it to be their idea. You know your child. Follow their cues as to how comfortable they feel and move at their pace.
2. Dress in appropriate beach clothes.
We obviously completely broke this rule, but kids will be happier if they are in swim suits, swim diapers (we loved the Charlie Banana cloth ones) that won't get bogged down with the moisture, and sun hats to keep the sun out of their eyes. Don't forget sunscreen!
3. Keep it short and simple.
Despite the spur of the momentness of our trip, it was pretty perfect in length. We went down, watched the waves a bit, went in the water a little, played in the sand a little, and then dried off and went out to lunch. Your first time can be a day at the beach, but if you can do a shorter intro first that might overwhelm them less.
4. Be excited and confident.
Young children take their cues from you. If you think this is a great idea and it is going to be a lot of fun, they are more likely to believe it. This is true when you drop your kid off at school for the first time, when you try to learn to ride a bike, and when you go to the beach for the first time.
If you aren't a beach person a) seriously?!? b) you don't HAVE to introduce your baby to the beach, especially if they won't be spending much time there and c) you may consider having someone who is super excited about the beach come along when you do go.
Enthusiasm is contagious, but so is fear, worry, and doubt.
5. Accept their response and don't push them.
This goes with #1, but some kids are going to love it and others may need more time to warm up to the concept. For my son, this was about 3 years. He loved the sand and tolerated the waves until he was almost 4 and then all of a sudden he became a wave surfing dude. As much as I wanted him to love the water as much as I do, we didn't push him. He built sand castles and would swim with us once or twice a trip and we let him be.
6. Regulate temperature.
The younger the child the more you need to be concerned with their body temperature. Avoid extremely hot days and extremely cold water until your child is older. (Even then avoid the major extremes!)
Pick a warm, sunny day and make sure you are ready with warm towels and hugs to warm up a little cold body. Make sure you have water and a shade plan for the sun. Overall, limit their time in the water and the sun.
On their first trip, our little lady thought she owned the beach. She waded armpit deep into the waves with her daddy and our friend and wanted to go back in again and again. I'm pretty sure she thought she could swim.
This little dude wanted to be held when he was in the water. He was a little nervous about the waves. He loved the sand and was covered in it from head to toe by the time we left.
Both responses were perfect. Both of our kids were happy to be there, explored the beach, and weren't ready to leave. This just means we'll have to go back again soon!
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