For his very first trip to the seaside, we took Ethan to Palm Beach where they film Home and Away. Tabs (Somerset Webb) was with us and she was very excited to be at 'Summer Bay' – Ethan less so! I think the crashing of the waves and the cold water frightened him a bit at first but, several beach trips later, we've picked up lots of tips and tricks for surviving a day at the seaside.
It can only take a few minutes for baby's delicate skin to burn – even on an overcast day – so sun protection is vital and in Australia every kid grows up with the motto Slip, Slop, Slap.
Slip on a shirt (cover up with clothing): It can take more than sunscreen to shield your child's delicate skin against the sun so it's important to layer them up with some extra protection. These days you can get those fantastic 'rashie' vests and swimsuits instead. They provide great coverage and they're lightweight and quick-drying so there's no sitting around shivering in a wet cotton t-shirt post-swim.
Slop on sun cream: You can buy special ones designed for use on babies and young children. Look for sunscreens that are water resistant and make sure you keep reapplying throughout the day.
Slap on a hat: A wide brim is great for sun protection, and they have baby caps that have a piece of fabric at the back that protects their neck.
Sunglasses (you can get kids ones with an elasticated band that help keep them on) and a big beach umbrella complete your shoreline cover-up ensemble.
Ethan was a bit scared of the water the first time we had him in the sea but he took things really slowly and steadily and really just dabbled at the very edge of the water at first. He gradually got used to the sound of the waves and the foam. I am told the most important thing is to remember is not to take your eyes off your children for a second – a child can drown in just two inches of water!
There's always so much paraphernalia to carry when you're taking kids to the beach. Buckets and spades, dry sets of clothes in case they get wet or messy, and towels. You can buy really cool mesh beach bags online that let the water evaporate. Then you just give them a shake to get the sand off the beach toys.
Zip lock bags are another must – they're great for keeping sand off snacks, nappies, wipes, nappy rash cream and anything else you don't want to get gritty.
I think the best thing about a family trip to the beach is that everyone mentally unwinds. Even if your child is too young to swim in the sea, the sound of the ocean, the birdlife and the salt air can't fail to get them relaxed and ready for a good night's sleep. Your challenge is to stay awake long enough to get them into bed!