Beach Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers: Everything Parents Need to Know (2024)

The most important part of a family beach day is knowing beach safety tips for kids. It's not the glamorous part of a beach day, but it's crucial! Read over all of my tips below.

Taking your kids to the beach can be an amazing experience filled with sandcastle building, splashing in the waves, and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

But with a baby’s delicate skin and developing body, it’s crucial to prioritize their safety and comfort. As always, I’ve done all the research for you and created a guide packed with tips to ensure your family beach day is fun-filled and safe.

Key Takeways

  • Ensuring a safe beach day requires knowing safety tips about the sun, ocean, sand, temperature, hydration, and location. 
  • For sun: Protect your baby’s delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays. 
  • For ocean: Before heading into the water, equip your little one with a properly-fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket
  • For body Temperature: Keep your baby hydrated by offering plenty of fluids throughout the day and find shaded areas or use a beach umbrella to create a cool spot for them.

Table of Contents

beach safety tips for kids include covering up their skin and having them wear floats when going into the water.

⚠️ Heading to the beach for the first time? ⚠️
Check out these posts for everything you need to know:

Tips for Taking Baby to the Beach
Beach Gear Must Haves
Best Beach Hacks for Toddlers and Babies
Best Beach Wagons for the Sand

Sun Safety

The sun’s rays can be harsh for a baby’s sensitive skin. And because I get burnt easily, I ensure that my kids are completely covered up! And the little spots that to show are lathered with sunscreen. 

Here are ways you can protect your baby or toddler’s skin:

Clothing:

  • Invest in a rashguard, a shirt with built-in UV protection, for easy sun defense. 
  • Other clothing essentials are beach shoes, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed sunhat is essential to shade your baby’s face and neck.

Sunscreen:

  • Since babies under 6 months shouldn’t wear sunscreen, protective clothing is crucial. UV rays reflect off water and sand, so shade alone isn’t enough.
  • For babies over 6 months, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are generally gentler on babies’ skin. Avoid sprays and opt for lotions.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally to your baby’s exposed skin, including the face, ears, and feet, 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if your baby is sweating or swimming.


Shade:

  • An umbrella, canopy, or pop-up tent provides excellent sun protection. Look for options with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 50+ for maximum coverage.
  • Baby beach tents provide a cool, protected space for naps or quiet time.
  • Take advantage of shade from trees or beach structures whenever possible.

Choosing the Right Time

The midday sun can be harsh and dangerous for babies and toddlers. Between 11 am and 3 pm are typically the hottest hours, and when overheating is a risk. It’s best to avoid the middle of the day if you can.

For babies under 6 months old, minimize direct sunlight and visit the beach in the early morning or late afternoon.

And a full beach day isn’t ideal for a baby or toddler. Start off small and work your way up to longer beach days as they get older.

Hydration

Babies and toddlers are more at risk of dehydration than adults at the beach and their little bodies lose fluids more quickly. It’s so, SO important to prioritize hydration at the beach.

Hydration Strategies:

  • Pack insulated water bottles to keep it cool throughout the day.
  • Aim for frequent water or fruit breaks, like every 20 minutes.
  • In addition to water, eat fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables with high water content, like watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, or cucumber, are refreshing snacks.
  • Children between 1 and 3 need about 4 cups of fluids daily, while ages 4 to 8 need 5 cups. Increase these amounts on hot beach days.
  • Babies under 6 months get all their fluids from breastmilk or formula. On hot days, nurse more frequently or pack more formula. If your baby is over 6 months, also offer them small amounts of water throughout the day.

Keep Baby Cool

  • A mister filled with cool water is a refreshing way to cool down your baby or toddler.
  • Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your baby’s arms and legs.
  • Protect baby’s eyes and face from the sun’s strong rays with a wide brimmed sunhat.
  • A portable fan can provide a breeze and help circulate air under a tent or umbrella (these are perfect for nap time!)
  • Washcloths soaked in cool water are perfect for quick and easy temperature regulation.
  • After a day at the beach, a lukewarm water rinse can help remove sand and cool your baby down.

Location, location, location

  • When choosing a spot, consider not just where you’ll relax, but where you’ll be playing in the water too.
    • Avoid areas with piers, pilings, or jetties. These structures can create dangerous rip currents, so stay at least 100 feet away when swimming.
    • Always swim in areas with lifeguards on duty. A lifeguarded area will have a flag with red over yellow. 
  • Look for bays or coves where waves are less powerful. These sheltered areas are calmer and best for babies and toddlers.
  • Beaches can sometimes have hidden hazards like broken glass, bottle caps, or other debris. Do a quick scan of the area before letting your child play freely.

Lifeguards:

Lifeguards are a wealth of beach safety information. Ask them questions like:

  • Water temperature: The ideal water temperature for young children is between 82 and 86 degrees. Babies will prefer slightly warmer water. Cold water can lead to hypothermia, so it’s important to check the water temperature.
  • Beach conditions: Lifeguards can advise you of any dangerous currents or waves, helping you assess the water’s safety, and any potential hazards beneath the surface, such as reefs, rocks, drop-offs, or marine life.


Setting Up Your Spot:

  • Select an area that’s not too close to the water’s edge. 
  • Bring plenty of blankets and towels for your baby or toddler to relax on.
  • If your baby is mobile, try to create a safe play area with barriers to prevent them from wandering off.
  • If your baby or toddler is exploring, ensure an adult is always close by. Beaches can get crowded, and it’s easy to lose sight of a little one. 
  • Crowded beaches can be overwhelming for young children. Use brightly colored beach towels or umbrellas to easily locate your spot, and consider wristbands with your contact information written on them for older children.
  • Don’t bring glass to the beach. Broken glass can cause serious cuts and injuries, especially kids who may be running barefoot or playing in the sand. 

Ocean Safety

Water Safety Basics:

  • Never let your baby or toddler out of arm’s reach in or near the water without supervision.
  • Put a life jacket or swim vest on the kids if they will enter the water – even if they’re a good swimmer. 
  • Choose brightly colored swimwear that makes it easy to spot your kids in the water and shoreline.


Understanding Rip Currents:

Rip currents are powerful channels of water that flow away from the shore and are a serious threat to swimmers. 

  • At the beach, check the lifeguard beach flags. Yellow flag means that moderate currents are present, red means that there are rough conditions and to be cautious, and double red flags mean going into the water is not permitted. 
  • Look for dark, narrow gaps of still water moving rapidly out to sea between breaking waves. Rip currents may also appear milky, choppy, or sandy, with little to no wave activity.


Other Ocean Hazards:

  • Jellyfish stings hurt! A purple flag will let you know that there are dangerous marine life. 
  • Check the water temperature before letting your baby in and ease them in slowly.

Sand Safety

Yes, even sand has it’s own hazards. 

  • If your kid loves digging, don’t let their sandcastles and holes go deeper than knee-height. Deeper holes can collapse, burying your child completely. (Not so fun fact – sand collapse fatalities are more common than shark attacks!)
  • Sand can get hot! It can reach over 100 degrees when the air temperature is just 75! Cover those little feet up with beach or water shoes. 
  • If there’s a swimming advisory at the beach due to potential pollutants, avoid the sand as well. Sand can harbor germs longer than water.
  • Strong winds can whip sand into your child’s eyes, causing irritation. Consider bringing sunglasses and a hat for added protection.

FAQs: Keeping Baby Safe at the Beach

How can I protect my baby at the beach?

  • Use protective clothing, rashguards, hats, sunglasses, and broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30+) for babies over 6 months old. Seek shade throughout the day, especially during peak UV ray times (11 am to 3 pm).
  • Babies are prone to dehydration at the beach. Bring plenty of water and offer frequent breaks for fluids and hydrating snacks.
  • Dress your baby in lightweight, breathable clothing and use a mister or cool washcloths to regulate their temperature. Consider a portable fan for additional cooling.
  • Never let your baby out of arm’s reach in or near the water. Use a life jacket and avoid areas with strong currents or rip tides.
  • Choose a clean, safe spot with calmer waters, ideally near a lifeguard station.
 

Is it safe for babies to go to the beach?

Absolutely! The beach can be a fun and enriching environment for babies. However, it’s important to prioritize sun protection, hydration, and overall safety. Following the tips mentioned above can help ensure a safe and enjoyable beach trip for you and your baby.

 

How soon is too soon to take a baby to the beach?

Anything under 2 months is probably a little too soon, but talk to your pediatrician first. No matter the age, it’s important to prioritize sun protection, hydration, their body temperature, and overall safety. 

 

Wrapping Up: Keeping Baby Safe at the Beach

While the beach offers a fun environment, it’s important to prioritize your little one’s safety and comfort. 

By following these essential tips – from sun protection and hydration to proper clothing and ocean safety – you can ensure a worry-free and enjoyable beach adventure for the whole family. 

With a little planning and preparation, you and your precious beach bum can create memories that will last a lifetime! 

besa at beaches and babies

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

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FLIGHTS
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the lowest prices plus the flexible calendar tells you which days are the cheapest to fly.

LODGING
booking.com is easy to use and gives options for all types of lodging. When I know I want a big rental house, I use VRBO.

RENTAL CARS
rentalcars.com scans multiple agencies at your destination to give you the best price.

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Viator lets you search for a specific activity at your destination or scroll all available.

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