Baby Beach Essentials

As the Florida summer heat subsides, I am planning on making many more trips to the ocean and having fun in the sand. Alexis is the ultimate water baby, and so am I. So the beach is where we both belong. In the meantime I have found a few things that have made our beach outings bearable even in the summer heat. Some of them are absolute must haves for a baby, as far as I am concerned. I have put together these items hoping they would make being at the beach pleasurable even with a young baby and to my surprise they WORKED FABULOUSLY!

1. FAMILY BEACH CABANA UPF 50+


The most successful find this summer has been a family beach tent. When I saw one by One Step Ahead on Amazon, I immediately thought it was a good idea and the best way to keep our little one out of the sun at the beach, but I was concerned that it’d get too hot inside, we would never use it, or that it is too hard to put together or it falls apart with any gust of wind. After talking to Emily at One Step Ahead, I decided to try it out and see. We took it with us on our second beach outing with Alexis in the evening. Andrew and Scott  set it up while we watched. It was up in less than a minute and even though it was pretty windy that day, it stood just fine the whole time.

Andrew said it was pretty easy to set it up, but I was still a bit intimidated until I had to do it myself the next time. It was a breeze! It pops up as soon as you get it out of the bag and all you have to do is put stakes down and tie it up. The only thing I still don’t know how to do is fold it back up, because Andrew has always done it for me. The cabana has UPF 50+ protection, it has nice see through mesh windows, as well as front and back flaps that open and close with a zipper for some cross breeze. We would  position it so that the sun was facing one of the mesh sides and open both the flaps on the other side to get some air circulating. The mesh sides can have sun protection as well, if you’d like to roll the fabric down. So whenever Lexi and I weren’t swimming, we were hanging out at the cabana. Lexi was mesmerized by the fabric flapping in the wind. She wasn’t hot even for a second AND to my BIGGEST surprise, she fell asleep inside of it! My Lexi, the one who never falls asleep ANYWHERE but in our bed, fell asleep in the cabana ( while nursing of course). I was doing my happy dance. I was able to put her down, and relax a bit next to the tent, soaking up the ocean views. Seriously, just that fact made me SOOOOO glad we have it! The second time we went to the beach was during the day, so it was very hot. However, the cabana did stay cool inside ( especially with the breeze), which is where we spent most of the time. AND Lexi fell asleep AGAIN! I am sorry for all the caps, but, as you know, any time she falls asleep outside of home is amazing for me.

As of right now, neither Amazon nor One Step Ahead seem to have the particular Cabana in stock, so I am linking to a different one, as well as the Infant Cabana (smaller size than the family cabana we have). Buy here:  Family Cabana tent and Infant beach cabana. Scroll down for a giveaway of the Family Cabana Tent!

2. CHILD SAFE FAN

I’ve gone through 4 different types of clip-on fans before I found the one that works well. Some barely blew, others were not child safe, there were ones that couldn’t run on batteries and ones that had a huge brick for a battery. Finally through trial and error, I found these fans. Super cheap, both pricewise and qualitywise, BUT they work. The actually move air and clip onto most things and run on batteries. These are good for strollers ( though I wish the clip had a slightly better grip), car seats and especailly for that beach cabanaI mentioned. You clip on two of these puppies onto the flap, meant for cross breeze and you’ve got yourself some nice cool air.

3. BABY SAFE SUNBLOCK: Lavanila Baby Block

I am a huge fan of everything Lavanila. We use almost every single product of theirs. They are one of the safest companies I found with products that still work great. This sunblock has excellent sun protection (40 SPF), is chemical free, doesn’t leave your skin white and applies REALLY EASILY! It’s very hard to apply sunblock on a squirming baby, so a smooth application is a must. It has a rating of 2 (rather than 1) on Skin Deep, but only due to Lavanila adding vitamins to their products( tocopherol (Vitamin E), for some reason, has a bad rating in EWG database. It appears it’s most likely due to its effects if taken orally and I guess people suffering from eczema might have a reaction to vitamin E.)

4. CHEMICAL-FREE SWIMWEAR WITH SUN PROTECTION

I honestly can’t believe I found this! Let me explain. For months prior to Alexis turning half a year old and being ready to be out into the sun and ocean water, I had been searching for an alternative to the traditional swimsuits with sun protection.  See, it’s awesome that they protect from the sun, BUT in order to accomplish that, they are HEAVILY sprayed with chemicals, laundered in chemicals or whatever else they do to them. At one point I had resigned to simply using the conventional rashguards with chemical UPF protection, because, you know what, exposure to the chemicals seems somehow better than a sunburn at this age (Why? One Step Ahead has a great article about importance of sun safety here). And then I found it! Tuga Swimwear is a line of rashguards and swimwear with sun protection that is completely chemical free. They are not cheap, nor would I expect them to be. However, their other brands , that are also chemicals free, can be bought for much less on Amazon. I ordered this set with a hat, a reusable swim diaper and then another set from MaxOut for when she’s a bit older, and another one (shirt and pants), because it was on sale. Another brand of theirs is Sunbusters that carries chemical free swimwear, as well.

5. BEACH BLANKET

I’ve gone through a few beach blankets until I found one that is made really well, is attractive, waterproof and with sufficient padding. I ordered this one from Zulily, but you can also find it on Amazon. It’s really high quality, folds into a convenient bag, very attractive and soft.

6. COOLER

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. We use a cooler c/o California Innovations who rock at making good quality nice looking coolers.

7. NON-TOXIC SAND TOYS

Green Toys makes great toys that challenge gender biases (like a pink dump truck). Their Sand Play set comes in many colors and is made of recycled milk cartons, doesn’t contain BPA, PVC, phthalates or external coatings. Basically it’s as safe as it gets and it looks cool!

 

Sun Smarties Cabana Giveaway from One Step Ahead

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I was not compensated for this post. One Step Ahead  provided me with a cabana sample to review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Bridget
    September 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    All great suggestions, thanks. Glad to see you used a beach cabana. I used the Coleman Road Trip Beach Shade for my 3 month old this past August on the Jersey shore and I think a few people thought I was nuts. But I couldn’t put any sunscreen on him so young. It was pretty easy to put up and offered us a ton of shade and the ability to stay on the beach for the whole day. I am very fair myself and it worked like a charm.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Why would people think you’re nuts? Sun protection is very important, especially for infants!!! By getting just one sunburn in infancy you double your chances of developing skin cancer. That’s aside from teh dangers of dehydration, overheating and so on.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    September 26, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    I love Green Toys! They are my go-to gift for baby showers and birthdays. Now I’ve added them to my baby registry! 😉

  • Reply
    Corinne
    September 26, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Do you ever receive products to review and not care for them? And if so, why don’t you do a review of them for your readers? Isn’t the company providing you with the product with the impression you’ll do a review, good or bad? (although I’m sure they’re hoping good).

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 27, 2012 at 7:22 AM

      There’s only been one case where I didn’t like the product, and it was very subjective (meaning it functioned well but wasn’t for Lexi, like many products I buy on my own and have to return or donate)

      That is because I select them VERY carefully and only review the ones I would have bought myself and have a strong inclination that it will be awesome.

      I don’t see the point in writing a negative review of ANY product regardless of whether it was bought or received. If it didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean it would not work for someone else. Plus I’d hate that kind of negativity on the blog. I’m not the person to sit there and complain about something. Oh and if you knew how many products I buy on monthly basis on my own in search of one that works, if I reviewed them all, I’d never have time for anything. Who wants to read about a toy that Lexi didn’t play with, rather than one she won’t let go of? Or if I found a perfect bath soap why would I write about others I tried that weren’t as good. I’ll just write about the one we love.
      But I DO believe in pointing out the negative aspects of the product in a review even if it’s s positive review. Because for someone that negative aspect might mean the difference between buying or not.

      • Reply
        Melissa
        September 27, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Actually, I like to read negative reviews too, they’re often just as helpful (if not more so) than positive ones. I like knowing if a product doesn’t work/function as advertised, is overpriced, doesn’t live up to the hype, etc. I think it would be great if you did a “products that didn’t work for Lexi” post with a (short) blurb about each one and why. This may stop someone else from wasting money on something that isn’t very good. Make sense?

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          September 27, 2012 at 4:10 PM

          If something didn’t function as advertise, I would definitely mention it. But that’s the thing. Because of how CAREFULLY I pick out the items that I want to review ( because I don’t want to be in the situation of hating a product, it wouldn’t be fair to my readers not to say something and it wouldn’t be fair to the company that provided me with the product to blast them), there haven’t been ANY items that didn’t work out fabulously. There have been items that I liked and saw the need for or benefit in, there have been items that I ABSOLUTELY ADORED! And I think you can sort of judge it from the tone of my post. Some things I can’t stop gushing over!

          There have been a body wash that I didn’t think much about. It was a fine body wash, but we love our Lavanila better. It doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it our personal preference. So instead of listing ALL the body washes we’ve ever tried whether bought or reviewed, and didn’t care for, I’d rather list the one I LOVE so that people could buy it and love it too.

          I did write about a few items that didn’t work for us in the Lexi awards post, but even there I noted how incredibly subjective our opinion is and the item might work just fine for someone else. I’d hate to totally turn someone off a product that could possibly help them JUST BECAUSE I didn’t like it. (except when it’s a known issue with toxins or something). Same thing with the millions of things I personally buy on amazon. Some stuff works for us, other- doesn’t, but I don’t presume that it means it won’t work for anyone.

          That being said, in the reviews, I try to BOTH give my subjective opinion, as well as try and step out of the whole “I love this” or “it works for me” and see what faults it might have and what things could be fixed and ALWAYS mention them. And if the item were to really suck so much that i didn’t think anyone should buy it, I’d return it and mention that. But usually, items suck because of low quality which isn’t the type of products I review. Anyone can buy a 50 dollar item to see if it works for them or not, but when it comes to pricier items, we are all left to rely on reviews you read online and pictures and feature description to make up our mind.

  • Reply
    Donna
    September 27, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    I do not get you. You are do careful on what your daughter wears etc…. On the other hand seeing pictures of alexis with her headbands in her mouth and wearing the elastic headbands. These things are all made in chins have NO cspia cert to go with them. I would never put these on my baby.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 27, 2012 at 7:15 AM

      The headbands she wears aren’t made in china. They are handmade by US people and bought on Etsy lol

      • Reply
        Donna
        September 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        Oh no they are not made in the US I can link you to several China sites and show you the shabby flowers Alexis is wearing are Not from the US. Why would someone make them when they cost .05 cents to purchase from China. I buy from the same place the girl you purchased them from on Etsy did. Email her and ask her she will tell you she did not make them. Believe me they all come from China even the elastic headband is from China it is called FOE.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          September 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM

          Ok, I will. Thanks for the heads up

        • Reply
          Corinne
          September 27, 2012 at 12:16 PM

          How do you know she gets them from the same girl you’re thinking of? I’m sure there are lots of headbands for sale on etsy and while some may be purchased from china and resold, some may be handmade.

      • Reply
        Donna
        September 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Here you go just type in shabby flowers in you search to see more. All made in China http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/630106073/New_Headband_Chiffon_Shabby_Flowers_Wholesale.html

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          September 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

          Honestly, they don’t look anything close to the quality of the ones we have. There are many ways to make a flower, one can make the same flower in China and the same in US. I will be very surprised if the girl I get her flowers and bands from gets them from china.

    • Reply
      Adge
      September 27, 2012 at 7:31 AM

      Headbands!? Oh the HORROR! What kind of mother lets her kid wear a headband!?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 27, 2012 at 7:54 AM

      Btw, where are you seeing her chewing on her headband? She tries to but I generally don’t let her.

      And who on earth buys headbands made in china anymore when there’s awesome etsy makers?

      • Reply
        Donna
        September 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM

        They are purchasing the flower and the fold over elastic in china them assembling it here. Still again all item are coming from China where they have no regulations on what they can use to make items. The ladies make these headbands for .50 ea or less and sell them for $6 to $12 ea on etsy. They are so cheap to make yourself these ladies on etsy are makings killing on these.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          September 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM

          I don’t mind them making money. They are not there to give things away, Etsy is for making money. I don’t have the skill or time to make these and I’ll pay whatever they are charging to get them made. I think it’s only fair. There’s nothing wrong with a person making money off of things they put their time in.

          That being said, I did talk to my Etsy girl and she assured me (with links to shops) of where she gets her materials and flowers, so I feel good about that.

          Thanks for the warning though!

  • Reply
    Katherine H.
    September 27, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Hey Elena, I wanted to let you know on fab.com I saw the cutest Halloween organic onesies by the company called Spunky Stork. I thought you might want to check it out for Lexi. The one that made me think of you all was the one that said “Future Foodie.”

  • Reply
    Betsy's momma
    September 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    How does a fan work on the beach? If it’s strong enough to garner a noticeable breeze doesn’t it blow sand everywhere? When you are at the beach with Lexi, do you supplement her with water to keep her hydrated? On our beach vacation I was so paranoid about my little one becoming dehydrated in the heat that I kept giving her water (in between feedings). I was wondering if you found a good beach cup that didn’t get all sandy inside. Inevitably ours had sand all over them, in them, etc. It’s funny, we brought tons of little toys for her to play with but she was much more interested in trying to eat sand than playing with toys. Which just grossed me out. I’ll be much more at ease to go next year with a toddler that doesn’t eat sand. I was way too worried about my little girl to enjoy myself.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      Actually, believe it or not, the one I listed here does work. I now clip two of them on both sides of the cabana and it blows into the cabana. That along with the natural breeze is good enough. It’s not SO strong though that it kicks up sand- just a little breeze.

      I haven’t NEEDED to supplement with water as of yet since she tends to be attached to my boob. Though the last time we went, she actually had some solids there and I offered her a Klean Kanteen sippy cup I bought for her and she drank less than a sip (she’s not used to drinking water still).

      As far as getting sand inside of the sippy cup, up until now she wasn’t mobile, so she drink with my help and i put the cup away, she doesn’t drag it with her. But from my own experience, all Klean kanteen don’t get any sand inside regardless of what you do with them. You can buy a few tops for it and the one that doesn’t have a spout is perfect for what you’re talking about (though even the sport cap isn’t bad).

      Lexi is obsessed with sand too, and it’s really hard to stop her. I don’t want her to choke or swallow sand and shells. But if she has a toy in her hand, she does chew on the toy instead.

      And yeah, forget about enjoying yourself…. I am just busy enjoying it with her since she needs constant supervision. The only time I was able to kick back was when she fell asleep in the cabana each time, which is why I am crazy about that thing!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    September 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Oh man, I wish I would’ve seen your style cabana when I was shopping…looks so much easier than mine (which is the type you linked to). Ha HA! Oh gosh, I’m seriously cracking up looking at the difference between the product image on amazon or one step ahead and the one on my blog. Wow, Josh and I need to practice that a bit more…;)
    I almost got the green toys beach set for Lillian but went with a German company instead…brighter colors and more toys in the set but still no toxins. 🙂 BUT…Josh and I had more fun playing with them than Lillian did. For now, anyway. 😉 I know she’ll adore them soon. (Well actually to be fair she LOVES them at home…but was too distracted at the beach to play much yet). 🙂

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 28, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      I think I know the German company you’re talking about. I looked at them too but then sort of forgot and ordered the Green Toys

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