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Remember when all you had to take to the beach was just a towel and a book? Sadly, once you have kids, those days are gone for awhile. With two sets of grandparents who have homes at the Jersey Shore, my family has lots of experience with family beach days. I’ve compiled a list of my great-to-have items as well as some of my favorite bonus tips and hacks. If you’re a new parent and are slightly freaked out by this list, remember:
- Pretty much everything on this list, like everything you’re told that you “need” for your baby, is optional.
- Trips to the beach will get easier every year as the kids can walk by themselves, carry some of their own things, and get themselves to the bathroom. Hang in there.
What to Wear on a Beach Trip with Kids
Protection from the sun is vital. Choosing the right swimsuit, sunscreen, and footwear for yourself and your kids will ensure that everyone stays comfortable and protected from the sun.
Choose your sunscreen wisely
Sunscreen should be “broad spectrum”, providing protection from both UVA and UVB rays. My family prefers using physical sunscreens which contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are the white, chalky kinds of sunscreens that are a bit hard to rub in, but if you don’t want any extra chemicals, these are your choice. They get better every year.
Most experts recommend you choose an SPF between 30 and 50. Below 30, sunscreens don’t provide enough protection, above 50, the extra protection is negligible, and the sunscreens often get a lot more expensive.
Avoid sunscreens that are combined with insect repellent. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied at least every two hours (a lot more often than insect repellent does), and it needs to be liberally applied to the face, where you don’t want bug repellent. Finally, mixing the two together can make the sunscreen less effective and the bug repellent more toxic.
Whatever sunscreen (or insect repellent) you choose, purchase it in a small quantity at first, and be sure you test it before you leave home, especially on sensitive skin. Choosing sunscreen for babies in particular can sometimes require a bit of trial and error as even “natural” versions can cause rashes and eczema flare-ups. You don’t want to deal with an allergic reaction at the beach.