Monday, August 22, 2011

Safer Choices: "Must-haves" for the Beach

We just got back from a week at the Jersey shore. We had a wonderful time thanks to some of the awesome products we took with us! When you go to the beach, take some of these must-have products with you!

I reviewed the One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Family Beach Cabana Tent before but I have a few more things to add to my "why I love it" list. I saw some other "similar" tents on the beach and in comparing them, I found some great features I never thought of before. First, the One Step Ahead version has a vented top. This is great for ventilation and also helps prevent the tent from "lifting off" on windy days. Second, it comes with plastic stakes which help secure it in the sand. Another tent I saw had metal anchors which don't seem like such a great idea: metal + water = rust! The One Step Ahead version also has two sides that fully zip closed. We were so thankful for this when we had a passing rain shower. We all huddled in our tent, closed the window flaps and zipped both sides and we stayed nice and dry (even ate a snack) during the ten minute rain storm that passed by. We've had our tent for 3 years now and it's still as good as new!

Our "house" was about 8 blocks from the beach. Doesn't sound too bad, but add in 2 small children who don't like to walk, a boogie board, beach chairs, sand toys, a lunch cooler, beach towels, our beach tent,... it is a long haul! I remember liking our Wonder Wheeler Deluxe All Terrain Cart last year but this year it was a life- saver! I don't know how we would have gotten all of our "gear" plus the children to the beach without it! One tip we've found to be helpful is to pull it rather than push it in dry sand. I was able to pull the full cart plus carry a child - a necessity for us!

We got so many compliments and "where did you get those?" on the children's Sun Smarties Zip Suits. Another "must-have" since they have SPF 50+ protection built in - no need to use sunblock except for face and hands/feet. Perfect for squirmy kids who don't want to be slathered in lotion. And it is Oko-Tex Standard 100 certified so you know there aren't any nasty chemicals in it. And right now they are on sale for $14.95 (reg. $39.95) - great deal!

We thoroughly tested our sunblock options this trip since we had mostly sunny days to enjoy. We loved the Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen (my daughter thinks it smells like jelly beans) and the California Baby Fragrance Free Sunscreen. The Goddess Garden Baby Natural Sunscreen was great for first applications but with subsequent applications, it didn't seem to rub in and left a lot of white streaking which took some rubbing to get off in the shower. We preferred the Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen Spray which didn't seem to have the same problem. All provided great protection but be sure to read the directions for when to reapply as different manufacturers have different reapplication instructions.

We stayed at the beach the entire day, so packing lunch for the kids was necessary. I used our Fuel Lunch Totes for the kids and packed them with organic snacks that were easy to eat, even with sandy hands...Revolution Foods Organic Squeezable Fruit and Ella's Kitchen Organic Fruit Smoothies, Revolution Foods Grammy Sammy Organic Sandwich Bar and Apple & Eve Organic Juice Boxes.

And of course, we couldn't live without our sand toys! Our favorite are Green Toys Sand Play Set and American Plastic Toy Sand and Water Wheel. Both brands are BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free.

So if you have an upcoming beach trip, or just want some great fun-in-the-sun gear, make sure you check out these "must-have" products!

*I have not received any compensation for or samples of the One Step Ahead, California Baby, FUEL, Green Toys, or American Plastic Toys products mentioned above. As always, these are my honest opinions based on products we have used.

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