Summer wouldn’t feel complete without a day at the beach or by a lake. Before kids it was easy: Just throw on a suit and some sunblock, grab a towel and a good book and go. But there’s a lot more to think about when you’ve got a baby in the picture. That goes double if you’ve got a long day planned and you’re hoping your baby will be able to catch a nap while you’re there. If that’s the case, we’ve got a few tips that may help.
1. Plan ahead
Let’s face it: Unless you have a newborn who’s still asleep more than they’re awake, prepare for the very strong possibility that your baby won’t actually take a nap while you’re at the beach. For most babies, there’s just way too much noise and excitement to sleep! So the best thing you can do is be prepared: The day before your beach outing, try to make sure your baby takes their nap(s) and gets to bed at their regular time. You’ve got a much better chance of a successful and pleasant day at the beach if your baby is well rested. (Ironically, they’re more likely to nap, too!) If possible, time your beach outing so that your baby can still take at least one nap at home in their crib, where they’ll get the best rest, or in the car. Plan to make it an early night and keep things low key the next day, too.
2. Set the stage
There are a few different ways to create a napping environment on the beach for your wee one: If you’ve got a super teeny-tiny, a pop-up bassinet works. Some people lug a Pack n’ Play to the beach, and if that’s what works for you in other remote napping settings, and you don’t mind the schlep, go for it. A car seat or a stroller that handles well on sand is also a good place for your baby to hang out and catch a snooze.
The simplest option, of course, is a blanket on the ground, a little bit removed from conversation and activity but still within sight, where your baby can sleep uninterrupted. Bring along some of the things your baby is accustomed to having during naptime at home—a favorite lovey or book—to help reinforce the idea that it’s naptime.
But whichever route you go, make sure that you….
3. Throw some shade!
You already know how important it is to protect your baby’s delicate skin from the sun. But it’s extra important on the beach, where the sun’s rays are intensified by reflections off the sand and water and there’s precious little shade to be found.
If your baby is younger than 6 months, you should keep their skin out of direct sunlight as much as possible, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sunblock isn’t recommended for infants this young unless there’s no way to avoid exposure to the sun, in which case you can use a small amount of SPF 15. For older babies and children, use sunblock of at least SPF 15, and reapply frequently.
But for naps, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing actual shade. A beach umbrella or canopy works, but a beach tent is even better, since it keeps bugs and sand away, too. Put a light-colored blanket across the bottom for a soft, cool surface and voila, the best beach nap digs a baby could hope for.
Have any beach napping tips to add to the mix? Let us know over on Instagram. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you and your beach baby a safe, fun, fabulous time out there!