Crawling Beach Baby? Make Your First Trip Successful!


crawling baby at the beachBringing that crawling beach baby for his first days on the sand can be exciting but crazy difficult.

Neither one of my boys were walking those first summers when they were ready to be at the beach, but they were mobile enough to know they wanted a piece of the action. Keeping the sand out of his mouth and seaweed out of their diaper was (and still is) a major task, but hopefully this will help make those first trips with baby successful.

While it may not be true “beach weather” yet, living so close to the ocean sure has its perks! We can run down for an hour before naps, plan a rock ‘climb’ at Odiorne for my preschooler, fly kites, pack a picnic dinner, walk with an ice cream —  I certainly feel SO lucky that these things are right in our backyard.

But what happens when that beach baby is dealing with the assault of summer stimuli? The sand, the water, the grass, the breeze — its all new to that soft, sensitive skin. Its hard for all of us when they’re ‘stuck’ on the ground. Sometimes it takes a few visits to ‘practice’ the beach experience for everybody involved to feel good about it.

As an occupational therapist that helps families have successful experiences in new environments, I want to remind you of a few points when making plans.

Their little sensory systems are taking in so much and figuring things out so its important to let them safely explore and relish in the natural environment. Carve out a safe space for baby to investigate things but keep him close in case he needs mama for some respite. Come prepared with a soft blanket to escape the sand, a tent or cover to shield the sun and wind, and a towel to dry those cold wet feet!

Here are some tips to make it a successful trip for all of us…

    • Bring a carrier. Getting exercise while having that babe tucked in close can let them take in the sights and sounds while being hands free. Point out the seagulls call, the rush of the waves, the giggles of the kids running by you.  Hey, maybe your beach baby will snooze for a few!
    • Dig a big hole. Keeping a crawler contained close by could (potentially) let you sit back and have a sip of that coffee. Remember that the deeper you dig, the more water will fill the bottom — perfect mud pie material!
    • Tote minimal toys. Two small cups or a pail and shovel is really all they need! Scooping and pouring, adding sand, rocks, seashells and more gives their bodies information of weight and texture, etc. There is SO MUCH great motor and sensory work that happens when they manipulate sand. I keep my toys in a mesh laundry bag to make for easy cleanup.
    • Consider a baby tub.  This can let you sit the baby in the water without the sand component (which makes such a crunchy snack). There are now inflatable versions on the market that come with a sun shade!

Keep the snacks and water handy, and remember baby powder or cornstarch to get the sand off their feet. Changing into clean clothes can make them nap-ready in case your baby dozes on the ride home. Keeping the visit short and ending on a positive note will make it easier to come back soon!