Although my daughter was born in Toronto, Canada during what was historically recorded as Toronto’s coldest month to date (if you’re at all curious it was February 2015)…by 9 weeks old she became in every sense of the word a beach baby! As a newborn most of Isla’s time spent on the beach was during our beach walks together in the early mornings. As the months passed I quickly discovered creative ways to make my time out in the sun, heat, on the beach or in pools more enjoyable for both of us! Here are some of my best tips to help prepare you and your little one for paradise…while keeping safety & simplicity in mind.
Sun & Heat
The sun here in Mexico is undoubtedly STRONG. They don’t recommend babies under 6 months use sunscreen and despite all of our time out on beaches we abided by that because I followed a very basic rule…I just avoided mid day sun when it was the hottest & strongest! To me it really was always the most obvious solution to keep everyone comfortable. I myself am not really a sun worshiper. I LOVE heat but am not really into lying around in direct sun so it just made sense to me to keep my very young baby out of the hottest & brightest time of day or at the very least seek out a great piece of shade. Up until Isla was about 5 months old we lived right on the beach. We would usually go for our morning beach walk at sunrise which would often include some time to hang out at the end of the beach just to relax (and have a bottle). During the day is when we got some work done back inside our apartment, napped and made lunch all while having our window open getting that gorgeous view & fresh air from the ocean breeze. I wouldn’t take her outside again until about 3 or even 4pm when the sun was a little more forgiving but still perfectly warm.
Cancun in particular is a very hot & humid destination. There are seasons where we feel as if we sweat all day and all night. I did find that my daughter would tend to drink more in the heat so make sure you’re always prepared to help keep your little one hydrated whether it’s with breast milk, formula or for older babies water. Rather than trying to follow a strict feeding schedule I always just followed her cues and gave her more milk if she wanted it because chances are she needed it! Although I’m not a fan of air-conditioning I did believe taking a little time to cool down indoors or finding well-ventilated shady spots during the middle of the day was important so my daughter wouldn’t overheat.
Sometimes I needed to create my own shaded oasis for Isla. I used to absolutely love swimming laps as another natural way to keep in shape (to go along with those great walks in the sand) so I started playing with our schedule a bit. I was able to carve out some glorious time for myself to swim with a few tricks…because let’s face it swimming WITH a baby or toddler is fun & sweet but doesn’t really give you a workout. I would set up an amazing pop up style playpen tent we had next to the pool mid to late morning (before her next nap) and take her for a light swim. Once I felt she was getting tired I would place her in the playpen on a towel, often still in her little swim diaper, give her a bottle of milk & she’d pass out immediately after that. Since the playpen was portable, cushy, safe & perfectly shaded by the huge cover it was a lifesaver! For us the popup playpen was definitely an item we got a TON of use out of because our daughter could literally nap anywhere at anytime. She’s always been a true go with the flow, easy going beach baby!
With our little one she was wearing reusable absorbent swim diapers from the start and I was absolutely in love with them! She went through every size from 2 months old right up until being potty trained and not once did we ever have an accident in them. I always had at least two of each size and found that was enough. They were incredibly cute, comfy and had a really good fit. I never bothered fussing with bathing suits on her as a baby or younger toddler and she was comfortable just crawling or later walking around in only her swim diaper. Some of my favourite memories will forever be of Isla running around in her little ruffle bum swim diapers on the beach! They are fairly inexpensive when you consider just how many uses you get out of them. I was able to easily hand wash then dry them after each use. On several occasions I noticed that if she had been in her swim diaper but didn’t end up going in the water, I would still find pee inside the swim diaper but it never leaked out at all! As a beach mommy I swore by those adorable reusable diapers and it’s one of the first things I buy as a gift for my pregnant mom friends.
Beach Walks & Baby Carriers
I anxiously went for my first beach walk with a then tiny 9 week old infant Isla bright & early at sunrise the very next morning after we arrived back here in Mexico fresh with a baby (to be honest I hadn’t even unpacked yet). I was bursting at the seams with excitement because it was a moment I had been honestly dreaming about since I found out I was pregnant. I used to regularly walk the beach during my pregnancy so to finally get to go for a walk along one of my favourite stretches of gorgeous Cancun beach with my baby girl was such a surreal & amazing moment.
That first walk I basically just placed a then 2-month-old baby Isla in my Baby K’tan carrier and off we went. I actually didn’t overthink it too much because I genuinely was too excited to be nervous. There was a bit of a learning curve using some carriers and at that point I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with it yet. When you give birth to a baby during winter in a cold climate regular baby wearing takes awhile to kick in often until there’s warmer weather outside. During our first few walks I wore her in the kangaroo position in the Baby K’tan wrap and laugh now looking back at the photos because I likely wasn’t wearing her “correctly”. The carrier I had was made of a great mesh material so it was breathable & I could throw it in the wash to clean off sand, sweat and saltwater. Sure I bent the rules a little covering up her tiny head but with the strong sun here in Mexico I felt it was necessary as long as I kept a close eye on her.
My first walk I carried a small bag with a handle for me to throw in a few essentials. I brought 2 bottles of pre-pumped breast milk, a bottle of water for me, an extra diaper and cell phone. I have done that 90-minute walk to the end of the beach & back so many times it was second nature to me so the only worry was figuring out the logistics now with a tiny infant.
By day 3 of our beach walk I found a better system to carry my stuff using a great little cooler bag by Skip Hop. This simple little bottle bag that I never knew I needed was given to me by my sister and turned out to be one of my single most used baby items! I put the same items into the cooler bag (2 bottles of breast milk, a bottle of water for me, an extra diaper & my cell phone along with a gel ice pack). I would clip the bag to my beach sarong and now I was completely hands-free to enjoy our walks!
Being on the beach is one of the most natural places for me to use a carrier with her. We started out with a wrap style carrier when she was a newborn (Baby K’tan), moved into a forward facing carrier after that (Baby Bjorn) to eventually now as a toddler using a carrier that I can wear her on my back (Tula). She has always been extremely comfortable & content being worn so I’ve taken advantage of that. She has slept on me in all of styles of carriers on many occasions.
Beach & Pool Toys
I truly didn’t find Isla needed any actual beach toys until toddler days hit. Baby play time on the beach still often involved trying to remind her not to eat the sand since everything still goes in a little ones mouth at that age. Usually I would throw down our Mexican blanket or popup playpen style tent on the beach to create a little sand free zone for her to play with her favourite every day toys at the time.
However pool toys were great & used a lot in our house! We would use the same types of toys you’d have for a baby in the bathtub…small floating squeak animals, watering cups with little holes in the bottoms that sprinkled out water, little squirting toys and so on. Once she could sit up on her own it also became easier to sit with her in a shallow kiddie pool and just play with a variety of toys that fascinated her. Often I’d let a bunch of the little animal toys float around the pool and I’d just hold her through the water to try and catch them all or just splash around.
We had the popular fabric & mesh inflatable spring open style baby floater that comes with a canopy for Isla. It’s nice to have a safe place to put your little one to float around & provide a little shade. It wasn’t always as convenient as I had wanted only because it also needs to be lightly inflated but overall fairly compact when deflated & much sturdier and comfortable than a full plastic inflatable style float. I liked the mesh in between the inflated fabric areas because it would give her a chance to get her hands wet & splash around a bit. I’ll be honest that more times than not I’d find myself taking her out of the flotatie and just holding her in my arms. Isla spent a ton of time in pools & the ocean long before she could even sit on her own so I think I just became used to holding her & gently moving her through the water with me.
Once Isla turned 6 months old I would apply a light layer of sunscreen to her face & body if we found ourselves outside on the beach for long periods of time during that strong mid day sun. I bought a fairly pricey gentle ingredient sunscreen that was water resistant and offered great UVA/UVB protection. Isla naturally has a beautiful tanned skin complexion (very unlike my own skin) so in our case I never felt the need to force her into long sleeve UV protectant clothing or hats that covered her neck. Again I really spent little time with her outdoors on the beach when the sun was at its strongest point because that’s just what made the most sense to me so I had a pretty casual relaxed approach with sun protection. As a baby I would put on a little sunscreen if we were out during peek sun hours but early morning & late afternoon we weren’t too worried.
I believe the key to enjoying time with an infant on the beach or poolside is about having a few tricks up your sleeves. If you’re prepared with everything you’ll need from milk, snacks, toys and a safe shaded spot for them to play, rest & nap…it does make things easier & more comfortable for everyone.
The following products were mentioned as items we personally used with our daughter. We are in no way affiliated with any of the manufacturers…