A day at the beach: Keeping your child safe

Sun protection is not the only thing you need to think about when venturing to the beach. Health & fitness expert, Katherine McMackin, shares her beach bag cheat sheet.


It’s getting warmer, making it a time when many of us begin to load up the car and trek to the nearest body of water to camp out for the day to play in the sand, to swim, and to relax.  Packing for a day at the beach becomes much more of a task than it used to be when you’re taking your tot along for the trip. Being safe in the sun requires a bit of preparation so you can enjoy your family time without the worry.

Sun Safety

The first priority is protecting yourself and your little ones from sun exposure.  It’s true that sun is good for us. It’s a mood booster and gives us necessary doses of Vitamin D.  But too much could spell trouble, especially for kids who have much more sensitive skin than we do.  It’s important to have sunscreen with you and to reapply every 60-80 minutes especially after being in the water. Some products stay on the skin better than others so be sure to read the directions and adhere to the product’s specific recommendations. The type of sunscreen you put on is more important than you think.  Mainstream sunscreens contain chemicals that could encourage the production of cancer causing free radicals, contain hormone disrupting phthalates and end up doing more harm to you and your family than good.

Look for sunscreens that use “physical” sunscreen ingredients such as non-nano zinc oxide with an SPF of 30. These sit on top of the skin rather than penetrate it to the cellular level.  Zinc oxide provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.

However, do not just rely on your sunscreens to protect you from the sun’s rays.  Also consider bringing hats, sun protective clothing and umbrellas to reduce the amount of direct sun you are exposed to.  During the hours of 10am to 2pm is when the sun is at its strongest.  The best strategy is to stick close to the shade to get the most out of your beach day without the harm of extended sun exposure.

Beach Bag Cheat Sheet

A day at the beach can also pose other challenges but if you bring the right supplies you’ll be smooth sailing.  Sun exposure is not the only thing to prepare for.  Long hot days in the sun can cause dehydration and bug bites.  Here’s a cheat sheet of what should be in your bag:

  • Hydration: Bring plenty of water to keep everyone cool. One of my favorite tricks is to slice up cucumbers into ¼ inch chunks and freeze the day before.  Plop a few of these in your water to keep it cold.  Cucumbers also aide in hydration and reduce bloating. We love the Eco Vessel to our tot’s drinks cool. It comes with a NUK silicone spout that has a nice snug fit, so no messy leaking.
  • Sunscreen: Choose a brand that uses non-nano zinc oxide and isn’t packed with chemical additives and ingredients like this Kids Sun Safe Thinksport SPF 50. Thinksport uses safe ingredients and has great protection and feels good on skin.
  • Bug repellant: Depending on your destination, bugs could be a problem. If you need to use bug repellent, choose a DEET free product that enlists the help of essential oils to repel pests.  Be sure to apply bug repellent on top of your sunscreen or choose a dual product that has both sunscreen and bug repelling ability.
  • Swim diapers: If you are doing your part to reduce the landfill epidemic by using cloth diapers, what do you do when you hit the pool or beach? Luckily there are reusable swim diaper options that are comfortable and convenient like Green Sprouts Snap Reusable Absorbent Swimsuit Diaper.
  • Wet bag: Don’t even think of leaving the house if you don’t have a wet bag. Logan & Lenora do a very stylish one that fits up to five wet diapers or a mix of wet clothes, swimsuits, or workout clothes.
  • Sun protection: Swim clothing with SPF can help reduce sun exposure and you’ll use less sunscreen. Wide brimmed hats are a great way to keep the damaging sun rays off baby’s face and out of her eyes.  This Green Sprouts Reversible Bucket Hat will do the trick. It’s light weight and can be stuffed in your beach bag.
  • Toys! But don’t forget the fun! Sand play is not only fun and provides hours of entertainment but it’s fantastic creative play that will help develop their sense of wonder and individuality. Try some safe toys that are made from non-toxic materials that can be recycled later when you’re done with them! One of my absolute favorite brands, Green Toys, makes a fun little beach kit that will keep your tot busy all afternoon making epic sand castles.

A little pre-planning and sun safety knowledge will ensure that your day at the pool or the beach is a fun, relaxing time with friends and family. Be safe and have fun!