Summer is here and there is no reason you and baby cannot still enjoy the summer fun. Here are some safety tips for keeping you and your baby happy and safe at the beach. Something as mildly irritating as sunburn or sand in your eyes can be a serious danger for a little baby.
If your baby is younger than 6 months it is not recommended you use sunscreen. So just keep them in the shade while at the beach. Use a sun tent so that the shade is complete – even reflected sunlight from the water or sand can burn. Make sure it does not get too hot in the tent, having a beach umbrella set up over the tent will keep it cool. Under six months babies don’t produce enough melanin to protect them from the sun, so keep the days total sun exposure to under 10 minutes (it adds up quickly, two minutes to and from the car, the walk down to the water and a few photos ‘swimming’…)
When you take them into the water, keep it short and keep it shady if you can. We took our 3 month bub into the water and I used the shadow of my massive hat to keep her in the shade, with a few quick moments in the sun for photos
Have help, don’t go alone or it may all be to much to handle. Make sure the people who are with you are responsible and you trust them with bub, that they won’t second guess you or do something you don’t want. Choose an easily visible landmark as a meeting point if someone gets lost. On crowded beaches it can be hard to find your
towel and umbrella, so as soon as you arrive point out the spot to gather if they get lost. Start this habit early, showing even the youngest children so they gro
w up knowing there is always a designated meeting point.
Wash your baby in freshwater after the swim so they don’t get itchy, get dry skin from the salt, or suck the salt water off their hands and limbs. If you are not sure that the beach
you are going to has freshwater showers then take a large 2L bottle of tap water. Strip bub down and have a helper pour the water over while you hold bub. Have a clean, dry towel just for bub.
Choose a time and beach that is not too hot or crowded. We found a beach with mangroves and set up in the shade right by the water, there was even a shaded spot to swim in. Don’t go at peak traffic or heat times. Morning or late afternoon are great times
when there will be more parking and less people as well as less heat.
If bub is old enough to walk have sand shoes or something to protect their feet from searing s
and. Sand/rock shoes are great as they can keep them on in and out of the water. Have your children wear bright, eye-catching swimwear so you and the life savers can see them.
Keep an eye on shell collectors, as shells can be a choking hazard if they put them in their mouth. If it is a windy day and the sand is flying about, reconsider your trip. Stinging sand is an annoyance to us, but baby cannot tell you if they get it in their eyes or mouth. This is where a sun tent is better than an umbrella for protection from windblown sand and shade.
There are some great programs run by Surf Lifesaving across the country, usually for toddlers and children, to teach them beach and surf safety and awareness. Taking bub to a swim school at a swimming pool is great, but teaching them “increased awareness, confidence and safety at the beach” is altogether different.
Here is a summary for your reference:
- Find a shady spot
- Use a sun tent
- Make sure its cool in the tent
- Your big hat will keep baby in the shade in the water
- Under 6 months = no sunscreen and less than 10 mins total sun exposure
- Have trusted helpers
- Wash baby in freshwater after their swim
- Avoid the hottest, busy times
- Have a meeting point
- Protect little feet with appropriate shoes
- Put children in bright coloured clothing
- Shells can be a choking hazard
- Windblown sand can get into little eyes
- Consider a surf education program