Ah, summer in Florida. While you may be picturing pristine white sand beaches and azure blue waters, as a native, let me tell you that it is also usually unbearably hot and crowded. Or raining and disgustingly muggy. Take your pick. Nevertheless, we braved going to the beach this week with baby in tow. We had relatives in town from Pennsylvania who don't get to go to the beach very often, so it was a perfect opportunity to go. We were able to go on a Monday and it rained in the morning, so a lot of the crowds I was expecting weren't there. Yay!
If you live near the Tampa Bay area or are ever visiting, Fort De Soto beach is a lovely area to go to. It's not super touristy, but also still has a lot of nice areas to go in the water. It's got a gift shop, concession stand, and sheltered picnic area. It also has lots of shells for those of you that love exploring the shoreline.
This is actually Violet's second trip to the beach, but the first time she went was at only a few months old, so she had to be carried around the whole time and couldn't really experience it the same way she can now.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.
4 tips for bringing baby to the beach:
1. Bring some kind of shade. This made the day so much more enjoyable, because that strong Florida sun can really get you. My mother in law has an awesome pop up tent to use at the beach that we put our belongings under and stick a couple of chairs under too. It's weighted down with sand you put in pockets on the side, so there aren't poles and ties and whozits and whatzits to mess with. Most of our group ended up with varying forms of sunburn (despite repeated applications of sunscreen), but without that tent, we would have all been hurting a lot worse. We tried to keep Violet under it a lot and she even took a nap part of the day under it too.
2. Bring something for them to float on in the water. We have a blow up float that Violet can sit in and has a sun shade over the top that was perfect for the ocean. She loved gently bobbing up and down in the waves; it was really cool being able to see her experience the ocean for the first time. We stayed very close to shore and always kept a hand on the float to make sure she didn't drift away and were able to lift her up really quick if a bigger wave came up. She loved being a part of all the action in the water and watching everyone swim and play.
3. Bring your special beach supplies. In addition to all the normal things you would pack in your baby bag for a day out and about, make sure to bring baby sunscreen, a hat, a towel, swimsuit, and swim diapers for the baby. Now, I say this with the full disclosure that we forgot to bring a hat for Violet! Even though we have 10 million at home! Luckily she has enough hair that her scalp didn't burn, but for those of you with bald babies, slather on that sunscreen or bring a hat. We bought reusable swim diapers for her that turned out fantastic. They are adjustable for size so that they grow with the baby, and since a 2 pack cost about the same as 1 pack of disposables, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. And luckily she did not poop while in them, yay! Just make sure to change your baby into swim diapers right before you go into the water, because they are not absorbent like regular diapers and if they pee it will probably leak through. Your baby will also need extra fluids to replace any lost through sweat, so bring some extra formula/water/food pouches.
4. Accept that something will go wrong. More than likely, your baby will eat sand. It won't be the end of the world, I promise. Violet ate sand almost as soon as we got there. I don't really know why I thought she wouldn't, but from then on I decided I wasn't going to have unrealistic expectations about the day. She got splashed in the face by a wave. She got ice cream all over her bathing suit. It took much longer than usual to get her down for a nap. But it was still a fantastic day filled with so much fun and so many new experiences for Violet. Some things will go wrong; just because you are at the beach doesn't mean that it's going to be magically different from any other day. So accept the inevitability of it so that you can get on with your day and have fun! Take a deep breath of that fresh sea air, look out at the beautiful water, and feel fortunate that you get to spend such a lovely day with your baby. Happy swimming!