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California Beaches in the Eyes of a Child


When the first warm day of spring arrives in California and the family packs up and heads for the beach, the parents almost forget how magical the beach is for a toddler or kid. Of course it makes sense. Kids love the unpredictable waves with the rush against their skin. They like the cold sensation of the water temperature, and they like the feel of running barefoot in the smooth sand.


May is a great time to take a trip to the Pacific Ocean. The further south you visit, the warmer the water. And there's an Alaskan current that does a number on the beaches north of Point Conception near Santa Barbara. Those beaches and waters can be nearly 10 degrees cooler because the amazing current travels the distance, holding onto its cold water as it travels south. By the time it arrives in Los Angeles, there's not much left of it and you begin to feel a difference in the climate with the ocean being warmer, and more pleasant for ocean splashing and play.


While less is written about babies' exposure to the ocean, Dr. Jay Hoecker from Mayo Clinic offers guidelines for babies and swimming, and babies in pools with diapers. Here is what he has to say:


Is it OK for your diaper-clad toddler to splash in the local pool?  Answer: Some  types of diapers are designed for underwater use. They're water-repellent and fit snugly around a child's thighs and waist. But they're not waterproof. If your child has a bowel movement in the water, fecal material may escape the diaper. A dirty diaper may contain diarrhea-causing germs, including the parasite cryptosporidium — which can contaminate pool water or other swimming areas. In otherwise healthy people, a cryptosporidium infection causes upset stomach and diarrhea. The consequences can be more severe for people who have weak immune systems. Urine in the water is less risky than feces, but it's difficult to separate the two when children wear diapers. I generally discourage parents from allowing children in diapers to enter pools or other swimming areas.


What's the best age to begin swimming lessons? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to enroll children in swimming lessons until after age 4, since younger children may not be developmentally ready to learn to swim. If you want to put your infant or toddler in a swimming program, choose one that doesn't require placing his or her head underwater. This will limit the amount of water your child may swallow.


This advice is not what all swim instructors and parents will agree with. Many actually scoff and declare the information is just wrong. So as a parent, you are the boss and you alone must choose what is right. But sometimes the baby will let you know if they are ready.


Here are some Mothers / Baby Beaches in California with gentle waters: