EC at the beach: how to be diaper free and potty your baby at the beach
(Please note that the below is a transcription and reads like I talk - please pardon anything that would make sense on the podcast but not here in text. ;) )
EC at the beach. Let's do this. I've done this a billion times you guys. I bring my kids to the beach a lot because we live in Asheville, North Carolina...and our new favorite beach is Tybee Island, Georgia, the North part of it. It's super chill and really easy. And there's this little tide pool that develops in the afternoon where they can play very, very safely, and I just love it so much.
I’ve been doing our recent beach adventures alone because my husband has had to work while we’re there. In the past, I've often gone to the beach alone with five children.
How do you do it and keep up EC, Andrea? That sounds impossible.
Well, let's go through 10 tips that I have for you to EC at the beach.
10 Tips for Doing Elimination Communication at the Beach
1. Be prepared
Number one, be prepared. What are the essential things you need to do EC at the beach? Well, you need a potty. I highly recommend the Potette Plus. You can get the rubber optional insert if you want to, but I would just bring it naked, no pun intended, without the insert.
So, you open it up, set it on the ground, and it's basically open to the sand below.
I would also bring a used yogurt cup with a lid or some kind of container that has a lid that you can slip inside the potty on the ground in case you're expecting a poop. And then, you can cover that thing up and it won't stink up your whole trip.
I would also definitely be prepared with an umbrella and the ones that have this little screw thing on the bottom so it can go into the sand nice and tight without you having to bring a hammer.
I would also highly recommend those Sunbrella-Sportbrella tent things. I'll link to the one I have - you basically pop it up as an umbrella and it leans kind of sideways, and it provides a really nice little shelter from the wind and the sun.
Underneath that, I always put a picnic blanket. I have one of those cloth waterproof picnic blankets that I put underneath the Sunbrella. And then, I can easily nap my baby there if I need to during our time at the beach.
I also highly recommend you use a cart, especially if you're bringing everybody alone. This is the cart that I have - the Wonder Wheeler with extra wide wheels for the beach. It's pretty hard to find, but it's got big wheels. Basically, you just throw everything into it, and it's super easy.
And then, all you have to do is wear your baby. (It's way easier than the way I used to do it.)
I would definitely bring a spare grocery bag or a trash bag to use for trash.
I've stopped using a cooler because it's been only me, and it's really hard to carry everything. So, I would just put an ice pack in another baggie, another bag with the snacks or lunch materials or whatever inside of that. So yes, we are using two plastic bags here, which is not very eco-friendly, but we are reusing them because we'd already received them from the store.
Definitely don’t forget the sun hat (if you can get your baby to wear it - ball caps usually work better for my slightly older toddlers and kiddos).
I always bring an extra umbrella besides the Sunbrella, like I mentioned, and then a baby carrier or stroller. We have a double stroller that we put the three and one-year-old in, and that will help you get to the beach. That stroller and the cart, you can pull it behind you, and if you've got other bigger kids, have them help. (I leave the stroller at the end of the boardwalk, leaned up against a sign, and drag the cart behind me onto the beach.)
These are the things that I would like for you to be prepared with. We will talk about backups and swimsuits in number three. But these are the equipment items that I would bring.
And if you have a newborn or a smaller baby who's still using the top hat potty, then don't use the Potette. You can use the top hat. With a newborn, you don't have very much pee or poop each time they go so you can just keep filling it up as you go. You could even probably put sand in it to soak it up. I've never tried that, but that's a good idea. So, either the Potette Plus or the top hat potty.
If your child will only go on the mini potty, like the one we have at Tiny Undies or whatever one you use, you might have to bring that because sometimes babies don't want to go in a new receptacle.
I typically don't squat with a baby over the beach and do all that thing because I feel like it attracts a little bit of attention. But you can do that too as an alternative and not bring a potty at all.
2. Time it around your baby’s poop schedule
Okay. Number two. Time it around your baby's poop schedule. If your baby consistently poops at a certain time every day, great. If your baby usually poops a little after she wakes up, maybe at eight o'clock or so, go to the beach right after. Have everything ready to go.
Or, while that baby's napping, get all your stuff ready. And then, right after that morning poop, go to the beach early. We love going to the beach at eight, nine o'clock. Oh, who are we kidding? We usually don't get there till 9:30 or 10. But we try to get there right after breakfast and then come back before lunch, and we don't get the worst of the sun.
But also, so let's see…Twyla poops every other day. So, we definitely wait for that poop before we go. Isadora poops in the evening, so we definitely do not go to the beach in the evening.
So, you’ve got to time it around the poop schedule as much as possible. Even better, if you just caught a poop, then go. If you know they're going to poop at a certain time, definitely bring that yogurt cup with the lid.
3. Backups and swimsuits
Number three, this tip is about backups and suits. I have never used a swim diaper, a disposable swim diaper. Now, I have used the reusable ones. They're really just there to catch poop if there's poop.
Babies are going to pee through their undergarments or they're not. It doesn't matter what you dress them in at the beach. Poop is a whole nother matter.
So, if you're going to a public pool, they will require a swim diaper. And I've always used the reusable cloth ones by iPlay, which is a company down here in Asheville.
Swimsuit-wise, you're wise, if you have a girl, to get a two-piece. Although we don't want to be flashy and have little bikini's on our little babies, it's way easier to potty them. So, you can also get a rash guard for the top that has UV protection and then get little bottoms to go with it. That would just be a swim diaper from iPlay or something like that.
Ruffled Bums, Ruffle Bottoms, Ruffle Bums? make really cute little swimsuits, two-piece swimsuits like tankinis for babies if you have a girl.
If you have a boy, just get some trunks, and I definitely recommend the rash guard (with SPF material) so you don't have to spray or rub sunscreen all over them.
(By the way, number one, definitely don't forget the sunscreen. Don't forget it!)
Okay. So, number three is backups and suits. Also, I have definitely used a disposable compostable diaper by Dyper at the beach - if you have a really young baby and you're using that as a backup. Great, fine, wonderful. Go for it.
HOWEVER, if you're not expecting a poop, or you've got poops in the bag (no pun intended), I would skip the disposable diaper altogether and just use one of those iPlay swim diaper backups on the bottom. Okay? That's really all you need.
If you want to go full-on and use diapers at the beach, great. Just remember that if that diaper gets into the ocean, nature is going to be in trouble. Those things do not biodegrade. Here is the sign I saw at the beach:
It says 450 years to biodegrade, but they were only invented in the sixties. So, we don't really know how long they will not biodegrade, but swim diapers that are disposable are also very bad. They have tons of gel in them. Naughty, naughty, don't use those.
4. Pee at the beach
Number four, pee. Some of your babies will signal at the beach or in the water to get out of the water, to come up to shore and go, because our instincts say, "don't go in the water." Some will go whenever, wherever.
To get a child to go pee in the ocean or to get yourself to go pee in the ocean if there's no public toilet around is kind of a challenge. You really have to force yourself to do it. (I do, anyway.) It's hard to do, and not advisable by the way. Let's just do that in the toilet.
But when you gotta go, you gotta go. And when you’ve got a kid who's gotta go, just know with pee, some of them will signal strongly. And then, if you get a signal at the beach, you know that they need to go to the bathroom. Potty them.
And some will just go wherever. Some of them, you can say, "It's okay to go in your bathing suit. Just let it run down your leg or just squat." And they'll do that, too. Especially if you know they don't need to poop, obviously. We're not talking about poop. We're talking about pee.
5. Don’t forget natural timing
Okay. Number five, don't forget your natural timing. Time can get away from us. We get into beach mode. Beach time is a lot slower than regular time, right?
Don't forget your timing - if you want to, wear a waterproof watch. I don't recommend checking your phone every five minutes to see what time it is. You'll get it messed up by sand and water, but also the habit you're showing your child of checking your phone every five minutes is not a good one. (And I'm speaking to myself here, too.) I always wear a watch from Quiksilver that is waterproof when I'm at the beach, and really all the time. I even sleep in it.
Just remember, if your child typically goes every 20 to 30 minutes, hey, around every 20, 30 minutes, just notice, just perk your ears up and see if there are any signals, or if you just want to potty them based on their timing, that's great.
6. Potty at transition times
That leads to number six, though. Definitely offer at transitions. If you're packing up to go, definitely offer before you put them back in that baby carrier or stroller, okay?
If you just got there, offer once first, right when you've gotten there, especially if it's been a long lug from the Airbnb into the car, to the parking spot, finding parking, and then getting all your stuff out of the car and down the boardwalk, etc.
When you get settled at the beach spot, you've put up your Sunbrella tent, you've laid out your picnic blanket. You set your potty underneath that Sunbrella tent (below is a picture of my setup) so it's sheltered from the wind and the sun, and then offer when you arrive. Very, very, very good idea. And also, around snacks and lunches, whatever you usually do at home.
7. Napping at the beach
Number seven, regarding napping at the beach. Really great if you brought a folding chair with you. Set it up close to the shore when baby gets really fussy and cranky, and just hold them. I have found that I haven't even had to nurse Twyla to sleep right at the shore from play, play, playing, and then eating and everything else. She's so exhausted at the beach, she'll fall asleep right in my arms.
If you usually use a pacifier, bring one. And just hold them right by the shore, and then lay them underneath that Sunbrella right on the picnic blanket covered in a little towel. Perfect. And they'll usually sleep for a long time because it's really loud at the beach.
8. How to dispose of baby pee at the beach
Number eight. Okay. Pee. If you've got pee in the potty, how do you dispose of it? What do you do? Well, again, I use the Potette Plus with the hole in it, just goes straight into the sand. And then, it evaporates just like if I were bringing my dog to the beach, and that would evaporate, so I treat it the same. I see it as just as hygienic as doing that, and the potty itself, if you feel like rinsing it out, if you've brought a mini potty that has a bottom or a Top Hat potty, and you just only got pee in it, feel free to dump that into the sand, bury it up, and then bring it to the ocean and rinse it out. That's totally fine.
9. Baby poop at the beach
Number nine. My advice about poop. What do you do with it after, huh? What do you do when they need to poop? Oh my goodness. What do we do?
Well, thank goodness we have a mini potty or a Potette with us, but we really need to bring that yogurt cup with a lid or to bring the rubber reusable insert for the potette and bring a plastic bag that you can take that insert out and wrap that in a plastic bag. And then just wait until you get back up to shore and throw out the... Oh gosh, it's such a mess, sometimes, to do that. But the Potette Plus also comes with disposable liners. You could use one of those. It's up to you. A lot of people are against them because they're more trash, but having poop on the beach is a little bit worse than that, I think. It's all a judgment call, right?
And then, after they poop, throw the lid on the yogurt cup with the lid, or if they poop straight through the Potette Plus onto the sand, scoop that up into your coffee cup and put the lid on or grab a bag, like a bio bag, a doggy bag, and put it in there and tie it up like you would if your dog pooped on the dog beach.
What would you do if your dog pooped on the beach? You would bring a bag and you would scoop it up, right? So, you can totally do that. That's viable.
10. Tips for packing up to leave at the end of a beach day
And then, number 10 - my 10th tip is about packing up to leave. We talked about being prepared and what to bring. (Oh, by the way, on number three, please add a wet/dry bag. I sell them on tinyundies.com for cloth diaper backups and extra undies and stuff. You can also put your bathing suits in those and it keeps it off of everything else until you get home. Super good tip.)
All right. Number 10. Tips for packing up to leave.
If you've got somebody there to watch your kids while they play, do the kids last, don't try to get them all clean and then pack everything up because they're just going to get dirty again. And it's going to frustrate you. So, pack everything up as much as you can.
I always leave the one solo umbrella up for last, and the beach toys I'll leave one or two shovels and buckets out for last. I would add that to my preparation list. Always bring beach toys because you never know if there are going to be any laying on the beach, but probably, you'll have to bring your own.
But yeah, when you're ready to pack up to leave, get all the stuff into that big cart or whatever you've brought - pack it all up.
And then, at the very end, have everybody rinse off their feet and put on their shoes at the shore. Or have the kids rinse off their bodies, walk all the way up to the boardwalk or wherever you entered the parking lot, and dust off their feet there after it's dried a little bit, and put their shoes on there. So, there are two different options that we've explored.
If you guys have any more advice for me on ECing at the beach, anything you've tried and you want to share with everybody else, please leave a comment below:
What are your beach tips for EC?
I've definitely ECed all ages at the beach so, if you have any questions, I can let you know more. Newborn to toddler, we have literally done it all. So, ask questions and add comments below if you want to!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)
I have four little kids so I try to minimize all of the kid stuff that I pack and have to haul out onto the beach. I minimize packing space by bringing muslin swaddle blankets instead of towels. They fold up or roll up so small so that I can fit one in my bag for each child, they dry fast, and they fit inside my wet bag easily once they are all sandy and wet from the beach. I also leave a second set in my car in case they rinse off at the showers or need extra drying off at the car. Muslin swaddle blankets also make great pool towels.
That’s a great idea Jess! I never would have thought of using muslin blankets. Thanks for sharing! xx Andrea