Sunrises, Shade, and Swim Diapers: Beachin’ with Baby

Tap, tap.

Is this thing on?

Y’all, I have to admit something.

I thought once Luke grew out of his newborn stage that I would be ALL UP IN THE BLOG. I suddenly would have way more free (well, hands-free) time, so many thoughts to share, and, as the Dixie Chicks sang, Wiiide Opppeeen Spaaaccceeessss!

Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case.

As our sweet baby boy has grown, he wakes up as the Energizer Bunny a little bit more every day. Listen. I’m so grateful he is so healthy.  Once we passed that “fourth trimester,” the time, it really does fly. He’s seven months this week, and while that does hurt this mama’s heart a wee bit, I am just so thankful he’s growing and, by all accounts, thriving. I love watching him explore and discover something new every day. He is the definition of precious, curious, active, unintentionally funny, and WIGGLE WORM. He has brought my husband and me endless joy.

Just not said hands-free time, my thoughts are a little scatter-brained, and not a wide open space to be found.

(Except our living room floor which has been sans coffee table due to the tiny human who I think is part-monkey.)

(Just watch out for the board books, squeaky toys, singing train, stuffed animals, and puppets).

(He still hasn’t learned to clean up after himself after seven months).

While he’s napping in his crib (which, for the record, I still feel like I deserve a SHINY RIBBON every time this successfully happens), I thought I’d revisit this little memory-keeping space.

Oh, I could do something more productive.

Clean the bathrooms.
Sweep the floors.
Watch last week’s Nashville. (#TeamDeacon).

But I’ve chosen to invest in the blog, and I know my husband will be ever so appreciative.

So, I thought I’d share some baby beach tips we learned on our recent trip. As the date was getting closer, I was seeing RED FLAGS. However, we really had a wonderful trip, and was even more surprised how well he did in the car. We only stopped twice on the way down, and just once on the way back (winning!).

For the days and weeks leading up to our Great Voyage to the Gulf, I googled and pinterest…ed until I think I read every blog offering advice for traveling with an infant to the beach. Some were helpful (a baby pool!), and some we realized weren’t for us in a manner of 3.05 seconds (a baby tent).

In no particular order, here’s what worked for us both in the car and on the sand:

1. A Baby Fan

While Luke is generally a happy baby, he considers the car seat his arch-nemesis.  That’s not too big of a deal on a fifteen-minute drive to church, but on an eight hour drive spanning three states? HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Other than the whole restraint thing, we think one reason he wasn’t a fan was because he gets so hot in it. So we bought this baby fan and I think it chilled him out a little (pun totally intended).

2. Sit in the Back

This was the one I was dreading the most because I haaate riding in the backseat on a long trip (I know, #firstworldproblems). But, I think our trip would’ve felt much longer if I didn’t. I could play with him, pat him to calm him down, distract him with a squeaky toy, and he just knew I was there.

3. iPad in the Car (YEP).

Don’t go calling the American Academy of Pediatrics on me. We will only do this for long trips, but it was a lifesaver. During a meltdown one day on the ride home from church, while being stuck in traffic, Brett and I were feeling pretty desperate. So, I pull out my iPhone and pulled up an Elmo video from YouTube. And all of the sudden, the demons left my child, and he went back to being sweet angel baby. Well, what do you think we did before our trip? We bought the “Best of Elmo” for $10 on iTunes, downloaded it on the iPad, Brett “McGuyver’d” it with binder clips and twine, and we were set for our trip. He only watched it probably about an hour total or so each way, but DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG AN HOUR IS WITH A HAPPY BABY? A lot faster than one with a baby that hates the world (even if I know the words to every song Elmo has ever sang).

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4. Ground Floor Unit

Brett knows I have one requirement for our stay on the beach. Our room must be beachfront. If I have to drive or walk across the street to get to the Gulf, I’d rather just stay home. I know, that is totally snobby, but it’s just how it is. I now have a new one: a ground floor (at least while he’s little). I cannot even tell you how much easier it was to just walk out to the beach from our patio. We could leave gear on the patio without hauling up and down stairs, easily go to the room for a quick diaper change or break, and it just saved so much headache. Do it if you can! I promise your view will still be better than fantastic.

5. Rent a Crib

This one may just be tailored for our sensitive sleeper, but we knew our Pack N’ Play wasn’t going to cut it for our baby boy to sleep in every night. Great to play in, but not so comfy to sleep in. We never have “co-sleeped” during the night, so that was out. So we rented a crib for a small fee and it was worth every dollar. I’d write a check for a few good nights of sleep every time. I was able to enjoy gorgeous sunrises a lot more with a few hours of consecutive sleep (key words being CONSECUTIVE).

6. Inflatable Baby Pool

One of Brett’s coworkers was kind enough to loan us their shade tent for Luke to sit in on the beach. Well, after one attempt at that, we knew it wasn’t for him (though for many babies, it would be). He couldn’t see us, and though it was shaded, it was hot since the breeze was blocked. So our plan B was using the $4 inflatable baby pool we bought at WalMart on clearance, and he was so much happier. He could see everything, and feel the sea breeze his Mama loves. Put a few toys in there, and he was a happy crab (if there was ever such a thing) for a little while at a time.

7. Sun Protection

It was just our luck that when we got to the beach, we discovered that all of Luke’s sweet, floppy beach hats were just a tick too small (thanks to my genes for the big noggin’…). Thankfully, we had a pretty adorable crab cap that fit perfect and he generally kept on. So, hats of course, swim shirts, and baby sunscreen. You know what’s not fun? Putting on baby sunscreen on a baby’s face. It’s similar to herding cats, except more hissing is involved. (Also, I had read that swim diapers only hold, ahem, dirty diapers and not wet. So, he was in regular diapers on the beach.) (I learned this was true when walking back to our room holding Luke, and feeling a warm stream down my swim cover and legs. This gives me great comfort to know that the pool is completely clear of any bodily fluids, I’m sure).

8. Find a Routine

Our first day was the rude awakening that HEY, YOUR BEACH DAYS HAVE DRASTICALLY CHANGED. Part of this has to do with him hating the baby tent that I mentioned, and that made him pretty grumpy. So after I had been down there ten minutes, we went back to the room, and then Brett gave me beach time that afternoon by myself (which, I have to admit, was guilt-free and LOVELY). The next day though, we switched gears with the baby pool and learned that once he played in there for a few, a beach walk and the sound of the waves led to a nap under the beach umbrella. It was different than years past, but no less enjoyable (in fact, a lot more sweeter).

9. Pack Essentials

My husband laughs (and slightly grimaces… or maybe that’s the other way around) at my packing when we go on a trip. I pack anything I can that we might need. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, trash bags, ziplocks, all the bath products, even a couple rolls of TOILET PAPER (There are certain things that you just need to have your brand, you understand). He likes to remind me that we’re not visiting a remote island, rather just near the Florida/Alabama line where a Publix is a mile away. So, basically I’m saying don’t be like me, pack less. (I did just pack a few diapers and bought a pack down there). (But I totally used a coupon). (#SorryNotSorry)

10. Set Up a Tip Jar

If you have a cute baby, your beach set-up will be a destination on just about everyone’s beach walks. We should have had a sign that said, “Stop and See: $1, Picture $2.”

But really, could you blame them?

We could have made a fortune!

We are thankful God blessed us with that little crab a little more every day.

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