baby on beach

Thinking of taking your baby on a refreshing dip in the ocean? Your baby may be too young for this fun adventure, depending on their age.

“Babies can take an ocean dip at age one and beyond,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”

Why not younger babies?
Dr. Lewis explains, “A baby’s fragile immune system my not be able to fight off the bacteria present in the ocean, so it’s best to wait until age one.

“The water temperature should be warm enough so the baby is comfortable. As a general rule, if you enter the ocean and feel comfortable, then it’s not too cold for the baby.

“If the baby starts to shiver, exit the ocean and wrap him in a towel.

“Toddlers in any type of water should always have on a life jacket. Holding a toddler in the ocean is not sufficient, as it’s easy for the little one to slip out of the holder’s arms.

“The waves should be minimal and the ocean calm. Strong waves can cause water to get into the air passages.

“Babies and toddlers don’t have the natural ability to hold their breath to keep from breathing in water.”

If you don’t feel at ease at the idea of taking your baby into the ocean, then trust your inner voice and just don’t do it. Build sandcastles instead.

After all, the ocean will always be there, and meanwhile, you can do fun beach things with your baby.

Something else to consider on the beach…
“As always, ensure your toddler is slathered in sunscreen to prevent sunburn,” says Dr. Lewis. There is no excuse for a sunburned baby.

In fact, a baby shouldn’t even have a tan. A good quality sunscreen will prevent this, along with appropriate attire such as a broad-brimmed hat.

Additional Guidelines

  • Always stay very close to the shore.
  • Go only in broad daylight in designated swim areas.
  • Make sure the waves are calm.
  • Ideally it should be a location where a lifeguard is present.

When it’s time to introduce your baby to the ocean waves, make sure that they have on a water-proof sunscreen. 

Having 20+ years’ experience, Dr. Lewis completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital. For two years afterward she was assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.