You’ve found a beach with calm waves, bought the best baby sunscreen, and loaded up the car with every sand toy under the sun. Are you prepared for what might happen when your baby or toddler finally gets to the sand? Keep your baby safe with these beach safety tips I’ve learned spending time at our beach with Baby J.

In The Waves: You’ll want to pick a protected beach that’s relatively flat without a steep drop-off if your baby or toddler will be playing in the ocean. Beaches with names like Baby Beach or Mothers Beach are the most suitable for small kids, but in general, if its in a bay or cove (look on Google Maps) it’s probably good. Always read the water warning signs posted on the lifeguard stand, and if possible, park your stuff right out in front of the stand. Lifeguards are usually friendly to families, and you can even introduce yourself! Remember to teach your toddler not to turn his back to the waves. BEACH FOR BABY’s BEST TIP: We dig a hole near the water’s edge but away from the waves so Baby J can play in the water that “magically” appears in the hole.

Sand Everywhere: Keep an eye out for things in the sand that baby might choke on, like small rocks, shells or pieces of charcoal. With a small baby that isn’t mobile yet, you’ll be able to keep her on a big blanket (we brought an old comforter). A crawler or walker won’t stay on the blanket and it’ll be covered with sand in seconds. Set food or bottles on top of an ice chest or stroller and sit on the sand like nature intended. Also, don’t worry about the sand-eating—the resulting diaper rash is only temporary. Yes, baby powder gets wet sand off skin, but most pediatricians don’t recommend it for babies and it’s just another thing to carry. Besides, toddlers love that beach foot shower. If you’re too worried, keep baby in the dry sand and just brush it off. BEACH FOR BABY’s BEST TIP: Should sand get in Baby J’s eye, I take the valve out of her sippy cup (a bottle works too) and pour water right into her eye. Effective AND good entertainment!

Stay Away, Sun: I don’t know about you, but I get pretty tired of reapplying sunscreen to my toddler’s skin every half an hour. When she was 1, she had a full-body “sunsuit”, Coolibar Baby Beach One Piece Swimsuit, that protected almost every inch of her from the sun. Now that’s she’s almost 2, (and likes to actually move around), she wears a short sleeve rash guard and a bikini bottom. Set a good example by wearing a hat and sunglasses, and baby will most likely imitate. Spring for a beach tent if you’ll be at the beach a lot or are going on vacation. BEACH FOR BABY’s BEST TIP: A great thing about the beach is that the weather is pretty consistent all day, so it can be warm at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. when the sun isn’t so scorching. Parking is sometimes free at off times too, and fewer crowds makes supervising your older kids easier.

Gone are the days when you could bake in the sun without a care in the world. Keep your baby safe and your sunscreen on!

Photo by rubatos