As we roll into the hot summer season, I bet a family trip to the beach is appearing pretty high on your agenda?
We all love a day out in the sun but young children have far more sensitive skin than us adults so we need to take extra steps to keep them safe for harmful UV rays that can be particularly penetrative at the beach.
You should, of course, take preventative measures of having your baby in an appropriate sunsuit, hat and apply sunscreen to their skin (from 6 months+), but how do you handle nap times and quite play away from the sun?
Baby tents for the beach have come a long way over the years, and what we used to think of as an unnecessary extra is now pretty much an essential for us. Whether it’s joining us on a beach camping trip or simply a long day in the sun, we know that investing a little time into researching the right kind of pop up tent is essentials for baby sun protection.
This post is part of our tried & tested travel product recommendations. Pop on over to see everything from our favourite collapsible strollers to reliable baby bassinets on the go.
What to look for in a baby beach tent
A baby beach tent gives your tots a relaxing place out of the direct sunlight to sleep and play. It will prevent them from getting sunburn and works as a perfect playpen where you can (somewhat!) conquer the effects of too much sand – in everything!!
More ideas on how you can conquer sand? Head over to our desert & beach camping guide!
Can I not just drape some towels around my baby? Well yes, there are plenty of small improvises we can make to give a little shade, but they won’t block all of the suns harmful rays.
If you think you’ll get a least a couple of uses out of the beach tent or UV shade, it’s well worth the investment for the peace of mind. And trust me, once you are used to using the tent you will use it well beyond just the baby years!
So with an overwhelming choice on the market all claiming to be perfect for your baby, what exactly should you be looking for?
- Material: Is the tent made of UV protective materials (look for SPF certification) or is it simply a sunshade?
- Ventilation: Does the baby sun tent have windows or ventilation flaps?
- Wind resistant: Does the tent have features that will prevent it from blowing away or collapsing in the wind? (eg sand pockets, or does it come with strong sand pegs?)
- Construction: How easily and quickly can you put the tent up, whilst holding the baby, the beach bag, wrangling your toddlers, applying the sunscreen – you get the picture!
- Portability: How easy is the tent to transport? We are always conscious of space in our car or more important if we need to fit everything into a suitcase.
- Size: How many children can realistically fit inside the tent comfortably? Will this be used just for one baby for one summer, or are you looking at twins or older siblings sharing the tent too?
We realise that when making this sort of investment in “extra baby gear” above the bare minimum baby travel essentials, you want something that will last, so although our focus is on sun protection for babies, we have also thrown in some larger tent ideas that will stand the test of time and may be a more robust long-term family investment.
Our favourite baby tents for the beach
You can see a summary of our favourite baby beach tents here, or read on for our detailed review of the pros and cons of each product:
|Aiernuo Large baby Beach Tent||14.4oz||41.3" x 25.6" x 19.7". Folded round bag 13.8"x 1.18"||Younger Infants in the sun all day|
|Monobeach Baby Beach Tent Pop Up Portable Shade||1.8lbs||47.5" x 31.5" x 27.5". Folded round bag 21"||Toddler play in the shade|
|Babymoov Anti-UV Tent||1.5lbs||39" x 35" x 33". Folded round unknown||Babies and toddlers|
|aigo Easy Set-up Beach Tent||2.1lbs||35" x 59" x 59". Folded round bag 25.6".||Smaller Children|
|SUNBA YOUTH Beach Tent||2.2lbs||65" x 59"x 43.5". Folded round 17.7"||2 - 3 smaller children play space|
|Shade Shack Beach Tent||4lbs||102" x 58" x 57". Folded round unknwon||Small families for short breaks form the sun|
|Archsell Premium Extra large Pop Up Beach tent||6.55lbs||51.2" x 94.5" x 51.2". Folded long 37" x 5.4" x 5.4"||Families|
|Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent||4.5lbs||87" x 47" x 49". Folded long 40" x 5" x 5".||Families|
Aeirnuo Large Baby Beach Tent
Ideal for younger infants, this is a quick and easy to construct baby beach tent with a double front zipper. It comes with two tent pegs to keep it secured to the ground.
Pros: This is one of the only ones we could find specifically for the baby age group. It’s super easy to use, ultra-light and provides complete protection from sun, bugs and sand.
Cons: Once your tot is up and walking they could outgrow it fast.
MonoBeach Baby Beach Tent Pop Up
Designed for children under three, the bottom of this three-sided tent can be dug into the sand to create a safe and secure water play area.
Pros: It is an ultra-light option that holds easily into a circular carry bag, a great way for baby to be involved with some water fun without needing to venture into the ocean.
Cons: It’s really for play, not rest, so if you need nap time it may not be the solution for you.
Babymoov Anti-UV tent
This instant unfolding soft domed tent is perfect for when you have a baby and toddler or slightly older baby moving into the sitting to standing phase. The domed roof is quite high, so you will get at least a few seasons of use out of it. It is large enough you could fit a baby and a toddler inside comfortably.
The tent comes with 4 pegs to secure it into the ground and is made from UPF 50+ to block both wind and sand.
Pros: The tent can be fully enclosed with bug netting covering the front so you are protected from the UV rays above and bugs, whilst allowing a good floe through of air.
Cons: Not many, it’s a great little investment for the price.
Shade Shack Beach Tent
This 3-sided dome tent is ideal for your growing family. There are windows on the side and back that can open up for ventilation or be closed for privacy. It is made of SPF 30+ material and is weighted down by sand in built-in pockets.
There is no floor mat to this one, it a simpler design for sun and wind protection only whilst allowing you to freely come and go during the day. It comes in a large or extra-large size.
Pros: The lack of a floor mat can actually be a blessing when it comes to pack up time, there’s no need to sweep out before you pack up.
Cons: The compromise on being ultra-light is that it’s weighted only with sand not pegs. This will work better on firmer sand on a still day, it won’t withstand strong wind.
It wouldn’t be ideal for baby sleeping as there’s no floor mat, but you could always keep baby in their normal bassinet under the shade, or look at adding a small paddle pool underneath the shaded areas for playtime.
aigo Easy Set-up Beach Tent
This is a super simple pop up option for a small family. Ultra light-weight and super easy to set up with SPF 50+ sun protection and ventilation. It is made of durable waterproof polyester fabric whilst the ventilation is designed with dense insect netting.
It is not a fully enclosed design so it’s easy to get in and out, but therefore so is the sand. You get 5 steel metal stakes and a small carry bag.
Pros: a super easy sun solution for a small family that like to come and go.
Cons: It’s not a fully enclosed design so better for toddlers and small children than babies.
This is not an all-day tent but somewhere you can duck away from the sun. Some users have also reported the metal wiring, designed for easy collapse can become deformed after multiple uses.
SUNBA YOUTH Beach Tent
With a UPF of 50+, this easy pop-up tent is made from breathable polyester and will fit 2 to 3 smaller children. The roll-out floor mat extends beyond the end of the tent for play outside as well as inside the tent and there are several handy storage pockets.
For strength against the wind, it has a heavy-duty frame and you have the choice of using both sand weights on either side of the tent or it is supplied with 8 strong metal pegs.
Pros: This is one of our favourites for sturdiness v weight. We also like that the curtains can be shut over for added privacy, perfect for when baby needs nap time or tied bag easily with toggles
Cons: not many, its ideal for younger children, not so easy for mom and dad to fit too but the perfect play and sleep solution.
Archshell Premium Extra Large Pop Up Beach Tent
We are creeping into the larger family tent solutions now. With the ability to be fully enclosed on all four walls, or roll the front wall down to use as a play space, this one will make a great longer term family investment. It has a sturdier frame, constructed more like a traditional tent with flexible poles and 6 heavy-duty 12″ stakes.
The material is 190T Polyester for maximum UV Protection UPF of 50+, and three extra-large mesh windows provide ventilation. The dome extends beyond the front of the tent for a little extra shade. There are inbuilt storage bags in each of the corners for your valuables
Pros: plenty of shade and ventilation for all the family and a sturdy beach tent solution at a pretty reasonable price for what you get. It can fit adults sitting up in camp chairs.
Cons: You will need to make space for this one in your packing as it’s more like bringing a full size tent with you, but a small price to pay for family-sized shade. You will also need to bring an additional play space for baby as the sand can still be easily traipsed inside the tent (and yes you’ll need to sweep it out before folding).
Pacific Breeze Easy Up
This is the ultimate family-sized solution beach tent solution for supreme protection. It only takes minutes to set up and has loads of extra features like pockets for sunscreen and valuables off the ground.
Pros: There are no tent pools to battle with on this one, relying on a pull string from the center. You’ll find yourself using this one for all sorts of outdoor events, not just the beach.
Cons: It is a little more expensive, but given its size and quality, this is the one you want for a longer-term investment to see you through the summers.
The fact it folds directly out on to the sand it’s certainly not the best for keeping sand off the tent floor so really you’re creeping well into the family bracket, not baby protection.
Extra Things to consider when buying a beach tent for babies
- No matter whether the tent is supplied with tent pegs or not, if you are setting up camp on very soft sand, you will want stronger purpose-made sand pegs to avoid any risk of the tent blowing away.
- Sand inevitably gets EVERYWHERE! If you are going for a larger tent where foot traffic is likely, then a small blow-up paddle pool for baby can be a great way to keep at least one area of your tent sand-free.
- Even with ventilation flaps, it can get very hot inside a nylon tent all day for a little one. If there’s no breeze you may additionally want a small fan to circulate the air for smaller children.
Other baby travel gear you will need
- Our complete guide to what to pack for the beach specifically is coming soon!
We have a really comprehensive list of what you should pack for your first family trip with a baby here, and for those who have graduated to the toddler years, these are our favourite toddler essentials.
You may also like:
- Do I need a travelling high chair?
- Best portable baby bathtubs on the go
- Tried and tested travel toys for your 1-year-old
- How to breastfeed & express milk away from home
Before you go, don’t forget to check out our Baby Travel home page packed full of all our advice for making travelling with your new family easier.
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