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A Day at the Beach

Okay, so a "day" at the beach with a baby probably means a couple of hours. (If she sleeps, you might stretch it out.) But if you come prepared, even a short time away can be relaxing and fun.

Rule 1: If possible, don't go alone. If Dad can't make it, enlist a friend to help lug your baby and all of her bare necessities from the car to the beach.

Rule 2: Put on everything, from sunscreen to swimsuits, before you leave home.

Rule 3: Avoid the peak sun hours of 11 AM to 3 PM.

Finally, remember that when your baby's had enough fun in the sun, so have you. Take what you can get, and call it a day.

DIG IT

In addition to eating the sand, your baby may want to play with it. Toys, such as a pail and shovel or a sand wheel, will also entertain older kids.

FUN SCREEN

A baby over 6 months of age should be slathered from head to toe with sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. For a squirmy baby, try a sunscreen spray for quick coverage. Sunscreen sticks provide great spot protection for face, nose, and ears.

UNDER COVER

If your baby's too young to wear sunscreen, cotton cover-ups are a must. (Always pack at least two. You will lose one.) But T-shirts don't block all the rays, so keep your baby in the shade.

COOL FEET

Not only are water sandals made to get wet, they protect tender feet from the hot sand.

BOTTOMS UP

Forget the waterlogged diaper-as-swimsuit; here, better options: Little Swimmers, disposable swim pants from Huggies, which won't absorb the entire bay ($7 for a package of nine).

TOP HATS

Whether your baby's as smooth as a cue ball or as fuzzy as a lamb, she needs a hat to shield her scalp, face, and neck

OTHER ESSENTIALS

  • Insulated bottle with ice water

  • Big, flat sheet (it's lighter to carry than a beach towel or blanket)

  • Zipper-lock bags to hold wet paper towels for cleanup as well as garbage, soiled clothing, or dirty diapers

  • Minicooler for food and ice

  • Stroller that reclines, for naptime

  • Beach umbrella

  • Oversize gym bag or backpack

  • Low folding chair

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