Because we had a baby in July, we haven’t been able to get to the beach this summer. Usually I spend at least a few long weekends at a nearby beach over the summer, so by the end of August I was feeling a bit stir crazy and craving a dip in the ocean. The idea of traveling with a newborn is daunting, but my husband and I decided that we would do our best and try our hand at traveling with a baby.
Well, it turns out that with some patience and a laid back attitude, infant travel is a breeze!
Be Prepared To Stop Frequently During Car Rides
We had a 3 hour car ride to get to our destination of Orange Beach, Alabama. We decided we would stop whenever the little man signaled he needed to eat or get out of the car seat. On our first stop, we found a grocery store at the exit so we could buy a healthy lunch and snacks to eat in the car while I breastfed. On the next fussy interlude, we went to an outlet mall and bought some super cute baby outfits at a Carter’s store. It was so much fun to peruse the baby styles!
Plan Ahead – Get a Room With a View In Case You’re Stuck In It
At our hotel, we had thought ahead and got a balcony room overlooking the beach. This turned out to be the best decision. With a newborn’s delicate skin, you can’t go out in the sun and crazy heat. But our covered balcony let me still have the beach experience with the view, sound of the ocean waves, and cool breeze flowing in. And our baby never slept so well as he did in the breezy salt air. It’s the most fresh air he has gotten his whole life so far!
Bring Your Favorite Baby Carriers and Bassinets
With my Boba wrap, I was able to take walks on the beach early in the day and in the evening. The pool area at our hotel, the Tides Hotel by Best Western Premier, also had a nice shady covered area with chairs, a couch, and a bar. So I sipped a virgin banana daiquiri with my toes in the water and my baby on my chest as my husband swam (and we took turns). Yay for baby wearing!
One gift I received for mamahood was a Moses Basket. At first, I wasn’t sure that we would get much use out of it. Boy was I wrong! This little baby receptacle has been a life saver. It came in especially handy at the beach. When our little guy fell asleep in my arms, I could easily place him in this portable lightweight bassinet anywhere that we were. And it was easy to pack in the car as well.
Research Where You’ll Eat Before You Get Hungry
Not every restaurant is baby-friendly. A newborn baby probably won’t enjoy a white tablecloth type of restaurant. Before your stomachs start to rumble, make sure your family has mapped out some restaurant ideas. In Orange Beach, we ate at a casual breakfast restaurant one day, ate most of our lunches and breakfasts in our hotel room, and then found a really cool outdoor family-friendly restaurant for our big night out.
We wound up at The Gulf, this ultra laid back and fun restaurant/bar/store/beachfront hangout, for dinner one night after Bobby did some research. The border of the restaurant (plus one special couple’s table) was made of shipping containers. It felt very hipster with succulents growing out of the steel containers. Once we crossed that striking entrance, we were greeted by a plethora of picnic tables, cozy sandy seating areas surrounding fire pits, and an order-at-the-counter restaurant. The decor was fun and we were right on the beach – two great ways to entertain a baby while you’re waiting for your food. I seriously loved this place, and I kept saying how fun it would be to go there with a group of friends, having dinner and then sitting at one of the beach nooks having some drinks after the sun sets. You could have fun adult time here while your kids play in the sand and enjoy the enclosed beach area!
Go With the Flow
Moms – If you choose to and are able to breastfeed, you won’t be able to get out much with a young baby unless you are okay with nursing in public (or in your car, etc.). During this trip, I was still new to my nursing cover and found it really frustrating to cover up. But in a restaurant, I knew it was polite to not expose myself to people eating. More power to you if you choose not to use a cover, though! As you can see, making sure Baby A was latching became a family affair. We laughed it off and took extra time and took up extra space at the breakfast diner we went to.
Remember, Any Body at the Beach is a Beach Body
This is another tip specifically for the mamas. I have to admit, I was a little self-conscious about being in a bathing suit at the pool during this trip. A body changes after childbirth, and it’s nearly impossible to bounce back quickly, especially not after less than three months. But your body is amazing and magical, so wear what you’re comfortable in and don’t worry about anyone looking at your body. Most likely everyone is enjoying their own beach trip too much to even notice you and your bathing suit. And if they do, who cares what they think?! You’re enjoying yourself!
If this is your first child, don’t expect this beach trip to be like ones of your past. You need to revolve around your baby’s schedule, whether that means stopping what you’re doing to nurse or sitting in your hotel room during prime sunning hours to let your angel have a nice nap. But hey! You’re at the beach, and you’re out of your house with your baby! You might not be able to soak in the rays or have cocktails all night, but you can smell that breeze, hear the ocean, and be thankful for your precious family.
Beach Love Happiness. Yep, I get that.