Do you remember those long lazy summer days on the beach, a Mojito in one hand and a ridiculously romantic novel in the other? Yeah, me neither. A summer vacation with a baby (or more) is a totally different experience.
In fact, “a vacation with kids” is by far the meaningless phrase I have ever heard of. There are so many people asking me: “Are you excited to be going on vacation to the seaside this summer?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I can’t wait to spend N hours in the car trying to entertain the baby that just won’t go to sleep, then unpack the thousand unnecessary things I packed in the first place and hit the hotel room shower only to find out that I completely forgot to take care of my body hair that apparently found a way to grow even on my toes. Oh, and there is not even a trace of a razor in the luggage. But hey, at least I have prudently packed 17 rubber ducks of different color and scale!”
Never happened to you? So you must be a novice who’s never been at the seaside. WITH KIDS. OK, I feel genuinely pity for you. Let me give you the essence (you can thank me later).
What you’ll need for a summer vacation at the seaside. WITH KIDS:
- A baby beach tent (read our ultimate buying guide below).
- Sunscreen. Lots of it. Just buy the extra extra largest bottle you find on the sunscreen shelf and be ready to buy more before even half of your vacation is over.
- Towels (the more, the merrier). No matter how many of them you bring with you, they will all eventually not-so-magically turn into a damp and sandy sorry sight of non-descript color. How kids manage to destroy them so easily is still beyond me.
- A cool bag. Babies at the beach = tiny constantly hungry and thirsty monsters. Besides, where else would you put the [insert any alcoholic beverage that will keep you sane during a whole day at the beach WITH KIDS]?
- First-aid kid. Why are you going to need it? Turn to “What will (inevitably) happen” at the end to find out.
- Toys. Tons of toys. Hint: the more toys you bring with you to the beach, the less interest your toddler will show in any of them.
- Your reading material. HAHAHA! Did you really think you would have time for reading? Hold on, mamma, you can put the book away for the next decade or so. My safest bet: you won’t need it till your baby moves out and gets into college.
Let’s go back to one of the most essential baby beach accessories. Here are 5 reasons you NEED to have a baby beach tent if your beach experience involves an infant:
1. The scorching sun
Did you know that babies’ skin produces less melanin than adults’ skin? This means that even slight to moderate sun exposure can cause your baby unwelcome burns and painful skin conditions. A beach shade tent will keep them comfortably and securely sheltered in the shade while you are trying to figure out the best way to keep your toes inside the shade of the beach umbrella. Hint: it’s impossible.
2. The crazy wind
Let’s face it. The beach is one of the windiest places on earth. You may find it refreshing but your baby is not a fan of the wind because his skin is delicate and prone to irritation and dryness. The baby beach tent is your only way out. Well, your baby’s way in, to be exact.
3. The clinging sand
Every parent will agree with me when I say that sand majorly sucks. If you don’t agree with me, then you’ve never tried to apply sunscreen to a baby who has sand all over his body (not to mention his hair, his ears, and inside his diaper, of course).
4. The annoying insects
Do you know what I hate the most about the beach (and nature in general, for that matter)? It’s full of insects. All kinds of them. From annoying flies to stinging bees and wasps, to biting mosquitoes, to creepy hairy spiders – all of them chilling out at the beach right next (or around) your heir apparent a.k.a. “the baby”. It’s a freaking insect feast at the beach!
5. The nap(s)
A drowsy baby at the beach can be either a blessing or a curse. The presence (or absence) of a place for the baby to take his nap makes all the difference. If you have a baby tent, just put the baby to sleep there and enjoy an hour of silence. If you don’t, may all gods be with you, my friend, ‘cause you’re in serious trouble.
The best 3 baby beach tents on the market
Best top of the line baby beach tent
KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed
Why parents love it:
- It’s easy to carry – even though this particular baby beach tent is not the most compact one, it is so easy to carry! It folds neatly inside its cute round carry bag. Besides, it’s so lightweight toddlers and bigger children just love carrying it around, “helping” you out. And you know what that means – one less tantrum to endure!
- It features a super lightweight mesh which is great for air flow and also acts as an insect screen. Bye-bye BUGgers!
- It is one of the few models that feature a pre-assembled and ready to use sleeping pad, guaranteeing your little one the most comfortable nap experience they can get in a baby tent. What’s more, the sleeping pad is removable which makes it super easy to clean.
- All mesh and fabric elements of KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed are UV coated and fire retardant.
- It’s easy to put up and take down and you know how much stress this can save you while you are on vacation. I mean, who needs an hour of sweating over the damn thing, trying to figure out what goes where while the baby is both hungry and drowsy?
- It has a long life – unlike most baby tents, this one is designed for use with children one to five years old so you don’t have to buy a new (bigger) one every few years.
Best portable baby beach tent
Summery Instant Portable baby beach play tent
Why parents love it:
- It features several zippers which help you regulate the amount of air and sun the baby gets. This is very convenient if you are spending the whole day at the beach as you know how abruptly the climate changes there.
- You can practically go through a chilly morning, followed by an afternoon under the scorching sun and then leave at dusk as the wind has become so strong you don’t feel comfortable at the beach anymore.
- The design of Summery Instant Portable baby beach play tent and travel bed provides plenty of room for your baby thanks to its flat top.
- The breathable mesh and waterproof nylon guarantee you a steady air flow and a reliable solution to an unpleasant rain-at-the-beach vacation situation. Besides, it keeps not only the harsh sunlight but also the unwelcome bugs away.
- It has a super compact size – only 14 inches (35 cm) when folded, and an enviably light weight – it weighs only about 300g (less than a pound). This makes it so easy to bring with you wherever you want to go with your baby.
- It’s easy (and quick) to set it up and clean it up. Besides, it comes with a helpful folding illustration right on the carry bag!
- There are 2 pegs plus anchoring straps in the package that make it so easy to just pop it open and never again worry about your tent getting blown away by the wind.
- There are toy hooks on top of the tent that you can use to hang lightweight toys on and entertain your baby if he’s still too young to entertain himself.
Best value for money baby beach tent
PLCEO green Baby tent
Why parents love it:
- It has a very nice design and looks equally pretty when folded and when put to use. Its bright green color is a plus as it is so easy to find it at the beach among the rest of the baby tents scattered around bigger children and other family members playing around.
- The 2 tent pegs it comes with will help you securely fix it on the sand so it doesn’t get blown away, causing you extra stress.
- It is so compact in size (opened – 109 x 68 x 50 cm / 43 x 27 x 20 inch; folded – 35 cm / 14 inch diameter).
- There is a two-way zipper which is so convenient – it enables easy (and quick) access to the baby getting inside and outside the tent (which will happen A LOT).
A few notes on safety
- When your baby is using the baby beach tent for napping, use only the sleeping pad that comes with the tent (if any). NEVER add a pillow, comforter, or another mattress for padding.
- To reduce the risk of SIDS, always put your baby to sleep on his back in the first year of his life.
- DO NOT use any sleeping pads that don’t come together with your baby beach tent as original accessories!
- Be extra careful when getting the baby beach tent out of its carry bag. Once you remove the safety strap, it can unfold rapidly, catching you off guard.
- A baby beach tent is not a toy. Don’t leave your child play with it as he may damage the construction, making it unsafe to use.
- NEVER leave your child unattended when he is zippered inside the baby beach tent (regardless of whether he is napping or just playing inside).
- No baby beach tent will provide 100% sun protection. Always apply sunscreen to your baby prior to heading to the beach. Then reapply when necessary (every time your child has been in the water and on even intervals depending on the sunscreen’s guidelines).
Do you think that bringing a baby beach tent with you is going to solve ALL your baby beach problems? Poor you. Here’s what will (inevitably) happen regardless of whether you have a baby beach tent or not:
- The baby will hurt himself on the most harmless object while you stare in total disbelief. You will have predicted any dangerous object within a mile and yet he will manage to make you reach for that aid-band in the first 60 minutes you set foot at the beach. Wanna bet?
- You will run out of spare clothes. For the baby. Yours will be on as you haven’t had time to shave anyway.
- The baby will hate the water. He will scream and ask his daddy to come out of the sea in the whiniest voice possible.
- Then the baby will love the water. To the extent that you will have to agree to bring with you his toy bucket full of precious sea water. You will (of course) carry it all the way from the beach to the hotel only to find out that your toddler has completely forgotten about it and now wants you to put it back where you got it from. Because toddlers.
Still, having a baby beach tent can save you TONS of trouble while spending a day (or more) at the beach with your family and its youngest family members (babies and toddlers). So, next time you plan a family vacation at the seaside, don’t forget the baby beach tent and be ready to enjoy your time as much as you can. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your favorite [alcoholic] drink.