After our girl arrived, we spent many days talking about how we couldn't wait to take her out to the islands, to show her the sand and let her feel the foamy ocean as it lapped up to the beach. We laughed as we imagined what she'd think about the texture of the sand, how she'd like splashing in the water, looking for crabs and gathering shells. We planned and plotted and waited for the perfect day to make our first trek to the shore.
Since baby-sweetest was too tiny to have sunscreen her first summer, babymama and daddy opted to skip the sunny expanse until she was old enough bear a little SPF, and so, until a few weeks ago, that tiny girl hadn't had the chance to dip her toes in the Atlantic. One impromptu visit to our own South Beach sans bathing suits only convinced us that we needed to carve out more time for a 'real' trip.
And finally, two days ago, we managed to arrange a family day at the beach. Early Friday morning, we packed up the cooler, our beach bags and to-go coffees (and juice bottles) and loaded all of the gear and ourselves into the car. A short time later, we arrived to a nearly empty beach and found the perfect (read: super-close) parking spot. After pulling into our awesome parking space, we quickly discussed our options, pulled together a strategy, and began to implement it:
• First, get baby out of car. Set her on blanket on trunk and strip her. Put on swim diaper (yeah, Babymama knows what you're thinking - but the trip to the beach is a fairly good drive, and we knew we'd have to change her diaper as soon as we got there, and swim diapers are more expensive and less absorbent, blah, blah, blah).The day was a great success and baby-beachy had a wonderful time, though there was little digging in the sand and minimal splashing at the water's edge. Her main focus was the 'dirdies' and she happily chased them across the wide beach as long as her little legs could hold out. When the sandy girl had walked what we estimate to be the toddler equivalent of ten miles, she sort of slowed to a turtle's pace until Babydaddy picked her up and carried her back to the blanket for some juice and fish. After her snack, she played with mama while daddy went out in the water before we packed up our things and headed for the car.
• Cover baby in very high SPF sunblock - avoid eye area. Put tiny bathing suit on baby. Shove tiny feet into stretchy beach shoes. Dance around like crazy people before realizing that the stinging you've been feeling for the last 5 steps is coming from the inhabitants of the large ant bed you're standing in.
• Baby-mama takes baby girl and beach bag number 1. Baby-daddy takes cooler and beach pack number 2 with umbrella. Put sun-hat on baby. Parents and baby walk across dunes to beach. Commence to having fun.
As 16-month-old parents ourselves, we're still new at figuring out how to manage things with an ever-changing 16-month-old toddler, so Babymama is happy to report that most of the steps in our plan worked out perfectly. They were, however, just a tiny bit harder than we thought they'd be. For one thing, swim diapers are tight - by necessity surely, but nonetheless, they are not easy to put on or pull up. For another, swim shoes are also tight, and perhaps useless, as we-the-parents learned after removing them in the car to find multiple blisters on our tiny girl's feet. Also, the loose sand of the dunes is a difficult surface for tiny legs to master, making it necessary for at least one parent to have a free arm for carrying the baby. (Actually, a wagon would be a huge help in this process - fun for the girl, helpful for the parents. The baby-girl likes this one though mama wonders if she shouldn't have more of an ATV type to handle the sand . . .)
It must also be said that photos of our adventure are few, as mama was more than busy making sure that the baby-sweetest didn't chase her 'dirdie' into the ocean, but mama did snap the one below near the beginning of the day. It's very representative of the entire morning . . . baby-girl running, we-the-parents chasing.