Since Leyton and I just got back from a 2 week long stint at the beach between Tampa (thankfully Eric could come with us on that trip!) and then down to the Panama City Beach and 30A area, everything beach with a toddler is FRESH on my mind.
As you probably know by now, Eric and I believe the value of traveling with your baby/toddler is incredible! Not only do you get them accustomed to it early on, but when you start when they are very young, you have a lot more freedom to do what you want. When Leyton was a bitty baby we’d often let him sleep at restaurants in his car seat and wheel him in the stroller through things we wanted to do and see that would now be boring to a toddler. Because he’s grown up used to traveling and eating out, we feel that we are investing in our future family excursions and dinner outings.
Did Leyton have some impatient times out at restaurants? YES, of course! Did I have crayons and other toys packed in my bag to distract him with? YES. I have taken Leyton to white table restaurants (sitting outside of course) and been out past bedtime more often than I can count. Dinner can be a bit stressful at times, but we have firm talkings to and remove ourselves from the situation to deal with it if needed and then come back. I also try to give a little extra grace knowing that the reason he’s fussy is because my dinner plans kept him out late. It’s a fine balance.
I have gotten many questions over the years about traveling with Leyton as a baby and now a toddler so make sure you check out these previous posts for even more information!
- Signs to Watch for with an Overheating Baby
- Pool Safety Tips for Your Toddler
- Tips for Flying with a Baby
Travel with Kids Q&A:
What do you recommend to take to the beach with a toddler or baby?
We try to really keep it simple. At this age (2), our must haves are:
- Sunscreen obviously! I used to fall into the camp of thinking that spray sunscreen was wasting money and that you don’t end up actually using most of it as it sprays out wider than your arm and so on and so forth. Then I had a toddler who hates being bothered with sunscreen and wriggles and fusses the whole time I’m applying it to him. Now, I think of it as a game changer. We are using the Neutrogena beach defense oil-free kind here and I’m a stickler for face SPF specifically when I can be so that I don’t break out.
- Puddle jumper: This has been a game changer for us. Leyton loves it because he knows it means going into the water and it gives us a little more peace of mind knowing he’s in it. We, of course, still keep a VERY close eye on him at all times in it.
- Baby Float: Before Leyton could wear the puddle jumper, our ride or die was the baby float with a shade over it. We used it EVERY time we went to the pool or beach. It’s great because it protects them for the sun and also lets your arms have a break from constantly holding the baby in the heat.
- Snacks: Is this not on every list ever that has to do with babies and toddlers? They will inevitably be cranky when you’re drying off or having to get out of the pool or ocean so this is a good distraction and helps them replenish after all those calories burned. Don’t forget to have WATER in your snack arsenal too to keep them hydrated!
- Beach Umbrella or Tent: We are never on the beach long enough these days to need it because Leyton is so NOT into the sand but when he was a baby we had a tent or umbrella up to keep him in the shade.
- Hat or Sunglasses: Leyton has JUST NOW gotten to the age where he’ll tolerate and in fact wants sunglasses to shade his eyes. Before he refused to wear them. If your baby will allow it, definitely plop on a hat and/or sunnies.
- Swimzip swimsuit: Honestly we LOVE Swimzip swimsuits so much because it simplifies our life when we are at the beach or pool. When Leyton is wearing this swimsuit that covers his whole body like a little rashguard with built-in SPF, all I have to do is spray his face, hands and feet and that my friends, is a life saver at this fussy toddler phase! (Shop the boy and girl versions on Amazon!)
- Massive Beach Bag: To hold ALL THE THINGS! If you are staying on the beach, you may want to even just bring a wagon.
How did Leyton do with the sand? And how did you help him with getting used to it?
Per usual y’all were so helpful with this scenario! I shared that last time we were at the beach (last year) that Leyton would have NOTHING to do with the sand and would in fact, scream and cry. We didn’t let that deter us from walking the beach while holding him, walking in the water with him on our hip and listening to wails that slowly turned to occasional whimpers.
This year, upon some of your suggestions, we let him wear his water shoes on the beach and this made him at least willing to walk a few steps in the sand…a big win in our book!
We brought down his “fishies” water toys to the ocean to let them swim and coaxed him to walk on the sand while holding our hands to get sea shells or things he saw he wanted to investigate. One day we were straight up “mean” parents and made him walk from the sand all the way up through the sandy path to the steps by himself. It took 10 minutes of melt downs, crying and finally going out to hold his hand and forcing one step at a time but we got there. Now we’ve noticed that each time we go to the beach, he’s a little less scared.
Our feeding therapist said that it may be helpful to help him feel pressure with us behind him with our legs up against his back so he feels more regulated or letting him walk on our feet etc. We also try to get him to now play with sand when not at the beach to keep de-sensitizing him to it. We know it’s a common issue toddlers face, so we’re trying not to let ourselves get too bent out of shape about it. We know one day he’ll love it!
How does your day to day look different when traveling and at home with Leyton’s schedule?
As you can probably tell from my Instagram stories, our parenting style is fairly relaxed. The biggest tip I have is to be flexible. Eric and I try to plan for the worst and are happily surprised when he does GREAT on long car rides, air planes or goes for many more hours than we would expect without sleep doing fairly well. We try to be relaxed because we know he’ll pick up on our attitudes and act the same way himself.
Our days don’t look that different except we all sleep in (Leyton is always in the darkest room/spot in the house to help with this) and typically he ends up going to bed later because of waits at restaurants and such.
What makes travel with Leyton hard or easy?
One of the best things we’ve done is travel with Leyton from the time he was only 4 months old. We went to Tampa for Christmas and have some of the cutest Santa baby pics on the beach. 😉 Because he has been treated like a child who fits into Eric and I’s life vs the other way around since the time he was born, he knows no differently. I know that our parenting techniques don’t work for everyone, you have to do what’s right for you and your child but we really function well by showing Leyton that our marriage comes first and that he is a welcome and very fun addition to our family unit.
We always search out the darkest space in the place we are staying for Leyton to sleep in his pack and play in. This allows him to get better sleep and because he’s used to going in his pack and play when mom and date have date nights or game nights with friends, he doesn’t think a thing of sleeping in it.
One thing that is hard is dealing with his picky eating and “dirty” aversions like the sand. Most restaurants only have fruit, fries, crackers or cookies that he would eat on their menu. Nothing on the kids menu will do.
Do you recommend travel with kids even if you’re without your spouse, why or why not?
As you can probably tell by now, the answer is YES! Not only does it open up their worldview to other things, but it’s WONDERFUL quality time together where you aren’t bogged down as much in emails, laundry, carpool lines and more.
Traveling with Leyton without Eric is obviously harder and many times I need a vacation after vacation to recover – especially being pregnant! But, I’d rather travel with him than not at all and I love that we are building our relationship and having fun together in a new and different way!
I hope this helped answer some of your questions about traveling with babies and kids and how we do it! If you want me to answer any other travel with kids questions, please leave a comment below and I am happy to answer!
If you need sunscreen for an upcoming trip or just because you’re a toddler mom and constantly out with your kids, you can score a deal on Neutrogena and Aveeno SPF at Rite Aid right now. Not only are their products only $9.99 this week but you can scoop up a coupon booklet with additional savings inside:
Shop Traveling with Kids Must Haves
I’m linking up with a few other moms to talk about traveling with kids. You can read their posts here!