Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting Baby to Love the Water Part 5: At the Beach

We recently took our first family vacation, and on this two-week trip, our boy had his first experience at the beach. This is the fifth part of a series on getting your baby to love water! The first 4 parts? Baby baths, big baths, breastfeeding in the tub, and then swimming pools

Daddy and Nonnie introducing baby G to the ocean!

We were lucky to be able to have his first experience with the ocean be in Florida, where the water is much warmer. (We live on the West coast, and the sea is super cold year round!) That would be my first suggestion: if possible, introduce baby to the beach and ocean when the weather is warm (and try to introduce them to warmer water first).

Make sure your little one has adequate sun protection! This means a sun/swim shirt (the best are ones that have UPF), sun hat, and sunscreen. Check out my post on "safer" sunscreens. You could even add some cute little baby sunglasses if they'll let you! Keep them in the shade as much as possible, but remember that the sun reflects (and the UV radiation intensifies) off of sand and water.


Just let their toes wiggle in the wet sand, then inch them closer so the water just eases in over their feet. Oh, this may be obvious, but don't take your baby into the ocean when the waves are big and rough. It's loud and can be painful (getting bombarded by water from all angles and having your feet knocked out from under you...) As always, we're taking baby steps. (Pun intended). Be mindful of the tide and water conditions.

We just stood at the coast line for a few minutes, letting him absorb the experience. His feet sunk into the sand and he got splashed in the face a few times. I was super nervous about taking him farther out for some odd reason. I have no fear of the ocean, I'm a competent swimmer and had state swim-record-holding family members there with me (shout out, Aunt Ellen!). I was just used to our beach in California - you wade out a very short ways and then there's a huge drop off and suddenly the water is over your head and the waves pick you up and throw you down onto the beach... (lots of fun! lol). But this part of the coast had hundreds of yards of knee- to chest-deep water before getting deeper.

Wading out so he could be more fully in the water

My husband took baby boy out first, letting the water come up to his belly. He seemed to be very chill, which we were thankful for. He didn't get upset at all, though when the water level rose and touched a previously-dry portion of his body, he would gasp a little and tense up. But he got used to it and seemed to enjoy it. We were at the beach for a few days, and took him into the ocean a couple more times. Eventually he started kicking his feet and slapping his hands onto the surface and even smiling. :)

Keep baby's initial exposure to new water situations short and sweet. Don't push them too far or they may get cranky, overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overtired. Gradually build up time (and before you know it, they'll be riding that boogie board in on a wave!)

Do you have any other tips on taking a baby to the beach/into the ocean?
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