Hit the Sand

Life’s a beach taking little ones to the shore with tips from local swimwear entrepreneur Melissa Litchfield.

Right Maddie is wearing the Oak and Cove “La Jolla” suit in pebble print. Left Collin is wearing the Oak and Cove “Coromandel” top in tan and the “Coromandel” bottoms in pebble print.

Everyone loves going to the beach – or at least the idea of going to the beach. In our imaginations, Mama lounges on colorful blankets, sipping an ice-cold beverage that is adorned with a tiny umbrella that matches a much larger umbrella covering her in a perfect circle of shade. Nearby, a happy toddler sits in the sand, angelically cooing at the waves. And Daddy plays frisbee in the surf with Brother and Sister. 

In reality, Mama and Daddy have hauled everything but the kitchen sink across lava-like sand — except for the cooler with all the drinks and snacks that’s still in the car. The umbrella has blown away, along with the spray-on sunscreen. Everyone has sand in every crevice, and there have already been two hissies and one all-out come-apart. Everybody is hot, tired and ready to go home, even though they just got there. 

Fortunately, Melissa Litchfield is here to help. This Mobile entrepreneur recently launched Oak & Cove, a line of children’s swimsuits that are ethically and sustainably produced. She was motivated to start her own line after experiencing the difficulty of wrestling a toddler in and out of a bathing suit and trying to find clothes for her daughter, Maddie, who is now six years old. “It was really important for me if I was going to create a custom clothing line or brand, that it be functional for moms,” she says. “Knowing my own experience, having a girl and having a one-piece suit on a baby, their clothing needs snaps, and it needs to be able to be taken off easily.” 

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That’s why there’s a handy zipper on the back of all of her swimsuits as well as snaps on all sizes up to 3T. They’re also UPF 50 to help keep the little ones safe in the Alabama rays. “The sun can more easily penetrate through cotton versus a tighter, more stretchy fabric like the recycled polyester we use, “she says. “And the more color or pigment in the fabric also helps block the rays even better versus white.” 

She should know. This designer also has a master’s degree in public health, and she spent one summer of her program teaching sun safety to Cape Cod beachgoers. But her interest didn’t start there. “It’s been a passion of mine for a while. I even did my eighth-grade project on skin cancer,” Melissa recalls. 

A native of La Jolla who has lived all over the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast with her husband, a Coast Guard helicopter rescue pilot, Melissa drew inspiration for Oak & Cove’s color palette from her home in California, a transformative trip to New Zealand and, of course, the landscape of the coastal South. Cool tans and blues mirror earth and water tones. “Large department and box stores usually offer crazy, extravagant prints or colors, which not every mom is super into these days. It’s a trend right now with Millennial Moms – more neutral tones, earth tones essentially.”

Another trend – staying organized so that the whole family, even Mom, can enjoy a day at the beach. “As busy moms, we’re trying to think of everything we could possibly bring to the beach via a list. And then once we get there, we’re like, ‘Oh shoot! We still forgot something. Now we have to scramble!’” Drawing on her own experience, as well as tips and tricks from friends and family, Melissa has come up with this list of tips to make your family’s day at the beach a successful and relaxing one.

Sun Squad Deluxe Beach Wagon from Target, $100. The Premium Beach Tent In Vintage Yellow Stripe from Business and Pleasure, $299. Battery-Operated Hanging Fan With Lanyard from Walmart, $4. Burt’s Bees Talc-Free Dusting Powder from Target, $9. Harding Lane Crab Hat from Tiny Town, $32.


Can I be real for a second? Taking your baby or toddler to the beach can be stressful and so much darn work. I scoured the internet and tapped into my real-life experiences to give you the best hacks so you can feel more prepared (and at ease) the next time you take your little(s) to the beach.

1. Freeze snacks
Freeze water bottles and snacks the night before the beach trip so that they stay cold.

Melissa Litchfiield. Photo by Chad Riley.

2. Use dusting powder
Bring (talc-free) baby powder to help remove sand from fingers, toes, hair, etc. The baby powder will help absorb any moisture making the sand stick to skin.

3. Pack quick-dry towels
Quick-drying microfiber towels are more absorbent than regular cotton towels, which tend to stay damp and sandy for days!

4. Bring a beach cart
Bring a wagon, stroller or a beach cart to transport all your beach essentials. Trust me, it beats trying to hold everything! 

5. Use sunscreen
I like putting it on first, before the swim suit. It makes the application process smoother and quicker.

6. Bring shade
Hats, umbrellas or beach tents are a must with little ones.

7. Set a timer
Program your phone to alert you every two hours. This will remind you to reapply sunscreen and to help the kids hydrate.

8. Try a fitted sheet
Bring a fitted sheet for an almost sand-free experience for baby. Just put something heavy at each corner with the bottom of the fitted sheet facing up.

9. Bring simple toys
No need for complicated beach toys. Sometimes a bucket and a shovel are all they need. Nature is very entertaining!

10. Turn on the mini fan
Bring a mini fan that’s battery powered or charged. You can clip this inside of your sun tent or umbrella for extra relief while baby naps and plays.

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