Beach Safety For Toddlers and Babies

A day at the beach is a classic family adventure, but it's crucial to prioritize safety, especially when bringing along little ones. Babies and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the beach's hazards. With a little preparation and awareness, you can ensure everyone enjoys a fun, worry-free day in the sun and sand.

Dress for Success and Safety

Start with the basics – keeping your baby or toddler safe from the sun. 

  • Swimwear: Choose brightly colored swimsuits that are easy to spot in the water and know what your child is wearing. Look for UV-protective fabrics to shield kids’ skin from the sun's rays.
  • Sun Protection: Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ to children over six months old. Reapply frequently, especially after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen is not recommended for children under 6 months of age and babies of that age also should not be in direct sunlight. 
  • Wide-Brimmed Hats: A wide-brimmed hat will protect your little one's face, ears, and neck from the sun. It’s the best way to keep your baby cool under 6 months of age. Remember, babies under 6 months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Plan your day accordingly so that you can give your baby breaks from hot weather every 15-30 minutes, or as often as they need.
  • Sunglasses: Baby-safe sunglasses can shield their eyes from harmful UV rays. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends sunglasses certified to block 99% of UVA/UVB rays are necessary for children and should be worn properly covering both eyes for adequate protection at 6-months of age.
  • Rashguards: A rash guard provides an extra layer of sun protection and can help prevent chafing from sand.

Always consult with your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions about beach safety for kids or keeping your baby cool and protected during the summer.

Hydration, Nourishment, and Staying Occupied

Going to the beach with a baby or toddler means you’ll be on the go because there’s so much to explore. It also means that you’ll need to be prepared to keep them happy, nourished, and occupied. Plan ahead so that you’re not caught without water, snacks, or activities.

  • Bring Plenty of Water: Dehydration is a risk at the beach, so pack plenty of water and offer it frequently to your child. Consider electrolyte drinks for older toddlers. Remember, babies under 6-months old are not recommended to drink water.
  • Snacks: Pack healthy snacks to keep energy levels up. Fruits, vegetables, crackers, and cheese are good options.
  • Bring Toys: Your child may need to take breaks from the beach, so make sure to pack toys, like your Happy Little People™ Toddler and Baby Activity Cards, which can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Just slide the age-appropriate deck into your beach bag and use them to play, connect, learn, and grow with your little one anywhere – even at the beach. 

Selecting a Safe Spot

Setting up for the day? Choose the right and safe spot for you and your child.

  • Lifeguard on Duty: Always choose a beach with lifeguards present. They can alert you to potential hazards and provide assistance if needed. However, stay with your child at all times around bodies of water, even if a lifeguard is there.
  • Bay Areas: If possible, choose to spend your day at the bay, where the water is calmer and less likely to have waves and strong currents.
  • Water Temperature: Ask the lifeguard about the current water temperature. For babies and toddlers, it should ideally be between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (28-30 degrees Celsius).
  • Shade: Bring a beach umbrella or canopy to provide shade throughout the day. It’s ideal to choose a beach that has shade, like cabanas or trees. 
  • Time of Day: Avoid the hottest part of the day (usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) to keep you and your kiddos cool. Consider structuring your day so you’re indoors for meals and naps during that time. Visiting the beach earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon has its benefits too. Usually it’s less crowded, though you should make sure to know when lifeguards are on duty.

Choose the Right Water Safety Gear

If you want to raise a child who loves the beach, start water safety education and practices early.

  • Life Jackets: A properly fitted life jacket that is rated for an individual’s size and weight is essential for any child who will be in or around the water, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets save lives. Check the label for the U.S. Coast Guard approval number.
  • Water Shoes: Protect little feet from sharp shells, rocks, or hot sand with water shoes or sandals.
  • Flotation Devices: You should only buy and use flotation devices that are rated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Any other device cannot assure safety for your child. Check the package or label of the device to make sure it is Coast Guard-approved.

Be Safe on Land and Sand

What is it about babies and sand? They love it! It’s tactile and often a new sensation for them, so it’s important to be aware of the risks that sand poses.

  • Hot Sand: Test the sand's temperature with your hand before letting your child walk or crawl on it. Use a beach mat or blanket for them to sit and play on.
  • Hygiene: Remind children not to put sand in their mouths, as it can contain harmful bacteria or parasites, and even trash from other visitors. Teach your children to always clean up after themselves, put their trash in the trash can, or pack it out.
  • Sand Hole Collapse: Adults and kids love to dig holes on the beach, but the risk isn’t worth it. Don't allow children to dig deep holes, and always fill them in before leaving the beach. Adults also should not dig deep holes on the beach. A “deep” hole is shallower than you think – do not dig holes deeper than the knee of the shortest person digging it.

Teach Water Safety

It’s possible to teach your child to love being around water in summertime – at the pool, waterpark, lake, or ocean – while teaching water safety practices too. It’s never too early to help your child understand what they can and can’t do to keep themselves and others safe.

  • Rules: Establish clear rules about water safety. Children should always ask permission before entering the water and never swim without adult supervision. It’s important to teach these boundaries early so your child grows up with water safety in mind. It’s never too early.
  • Swimming Lessons: Enroll your toddler in swimming lessons to build their confidence and water safety skills. Many community pools offer swimming lessons for children and parents to establish good water safety practices together. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons as early as 1 year old as protection against drowning.

Constant Supervision

It’s true, a day at the beach is not a day of relaxation when you have little ones. Why? Because babies and toddlers need your eyes on them to ensure their safety.

  • Keep Close: Never leave your child unattended, even for a moment. Babies and toddlers can quickly get into trouble in or near the water and the consequences can be deadly.
  • Buddy System: Better yet, take another trusted and responsible adult with you. Establish a "buddy system" to ensure someone is always watching the children.

Keep a First-Aid Kit Handy

Accidents happen! Make sure you have the right supplies on hand to take care of bumps and scrapes.

  • Be Prepared: Pack a basic first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any medications your child may need.
  • Lifeguard Station: Remember that the lifeguard station will also have a first-aid kit in case you need it.
  • Bathrooms: Know where the nearest bathroom is or source of clean, fresh water in case you need to flush a scrape or cut.

By following these safety tips, you can make your beach visit a fun, memorable, and most importantly, safe experience for you and your children.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published