Summer is here and we have been spending most of our time outdoors with the boys. Splashing till sunset at a local spray park, exploring local trails, family pool parties in the backyard, picnics in the park and we are excitedly awaiting all the summer festivals coming up in and around Edmonton.
This year, the mosquitoes are ferocious (and giant) so needless to say using bug protection along with sun protection is important to us. Staying cool and hydrated in the hot summer heat is also a must especially with young and energetic kids who love to play outside all day.
I remember my first few summers as a new parent. I had no clue what kind of summer items I really needed for my son, what was safe and what was going to be worth the splurge. Two boys later and five summer seasons in, I have several go-to essentials that can be found locally or online. Using safe, protective, natural and durable products are important to us even if will cost a bit more.
Here are twelve summer essentials we can’t live without:
Thinksport Sunscreen – top rated in EWG with a “1” rating since 2010. Thinksport sunscreen lotion applies and absorbs easily. It also comes in a convenient pocket sized sunscreen stick – my favorite especially for applying a quick swipe of protection across faces of kids who have a hard time sitting still. Formulated free of harmful chemicals and parabens, it holds the highest level of water resistance (80-90 minutes) and highest level of UVB and UVA protection (FDA standards since 2012). Find both versions at your local West Coast Kids.
All Things Jill ‘Outdoor Joose’ – this is a great non aerosol, natural spray when venturing outdoors. You can spray it directly on your clothing or exposed skin and it won’t leave your skin feeling sticky and greasy with the safe and chemical free ingredients . We have used it during camping, park dates and backyards parties and has worked fantastic for us. We are also a fan of Purple Frog Outdoor Patches which you adhere a patch onto your clothing or stroller to ward off those pesky mosquitos. Both of these products can be found at Bosom Babies on 124 Street and West Coast Kids.
Shadez Sunglasses – come in fun stylish patterns and colors. Shadez sunglasses are designed to be safe from harmful UV rays and durable (tried and true). Choose classic colors or custom designs from three different age ranges. This worked great for my boys who are very particular about what they want to wear. One chose his favorite color and the other chose his Shadez based upon his favorite truck. Can be purchased at West Coast Kids and Bosom Babies on 124 Street (styles may vary).
UV Rated Pop Up Shelter – we love these simple pop up shelters for the extra sun protection to utilize at parks where there is barely any shade. It’s easy to set up but usually takes a bit of practice put away properly. We will peg ours down if we are on a grassy spot especially if it is windy but if we are stationed somewhere that has no spots to peg down, we just place heavy items in each corner of the shelter to hold it down. We debated back and forth the past few summers and regretted not purchasing one every time we would venture to the park with minimal shade for an all day trip. So trust me, it is worth the splurge to look for one that is UV rated and easy to set up and take down. We found ours on Amazon and there is a wide variety to choose from.
UV Protected Swimwear and Hats – by far our favorite line of sun protective swimwear and hats is UV Skinz with the fun and colorful designs on each piece. UV Skinz undergoes rigorous testing to ensure they provide the highest standards for a UPF rating of 50+ on all of their UV protective clothing. In other words, it blocks out 98% of the sun’s damaging rays. We also love that it is less restrictive than other rash guards we have tried which in turn makes it easier to get on a squirmy toddler. The bucket hats are great to keep little heads and neck protected from the sun. We ordered ours online but we have also loved the one piece UV rated rashguards from MEC with a more subtle pattern.
Itzy Ritzy Wet Bag – these are great for stashing wet swimwear or dirty clothes into during an outing at the spray park or pool. Sure, it’s easier to throw wet and dirty clothes into a plastic bag but a more sustainable option that we are currently obsessing with, is the Itzy Ritzy Donut printed wet bag, it is machine washable, has a zipper closure and a wrist strap that opens up to attach to a bag or stroller. Find these at West Coast Kids.
Round Beach Towel – gigantic round towels are a thing right now and we are loving it. With so many fun prints out there, it is hard to choose just one. We are currently loving our BigMouth Gigantic Pink Donut Beach Towel. This one has more of a microfiber feel but if you are looking for a thicker high quality round towel, our next favorite line is from the Canadian designed Tofino Towel Co. This “All Around Towel” is definitely worth the splurge for it’s versatility to use outdoors and indoors. Find the Donut Towel on Amazon and the Tofino Towel at Jilly’s Boutique in Terwilleger.
Picnic Blanket – We have had our current favorite compact picnic blanket for about four years now. Purchased from our local Costco and still in great shape even after a few gos in the washer. Folds up quickly and has an adjustable strap for easy transportation. We love using it to expand the bottom layout on our pop up shelter. You can purchase one at your local Costco during the spring/summer season or purchase a similar version from Chew-Z Baby on Facebook for a similar price.
Baby Carrier – There are so many baby carriers out there to choose from. It is a must have when you have a newborn, a child who isn’t in the walking stage yet or a toddler who can’t manage far treks especially when hiking up and downhill. It’s great for a compact form of transportation instead of bringing a bulky stroller on a trek. It’s also great for those years you still have to chase a child around the playground and you want to keep your infant close. Baby carriers keep your hands free, it’s compact which replaces a bulky stroller and you also have no strollers to carry up and down any stairs. Our babywearing days are few and far between now but my UppyMama wrap was great to use during our Drumhellar hike last summer. Our youngest fell asleep on my back and we got to hike for another hour without any fuss. Made for a great workout too. You can find a variety of carriers at Two Mothers in Edmonton or checkout a local babywearing for sale or trade facebook page.
Splash Suit – Whether it’s a two piece or a one piece splash suit, investing in one for my boys was a must. The Tuffo Muddy Buddy suit is great because it is a completely waterproof suit including the seams. The wrists and ankles are elasticized and I love that it is quite roomy and breathable which allows for extra clothing to fit underneath without getting too hot. We also own two piece splash suits which are also great but layering clothing underneath is bit more confining for my boys compared to the one piece suit. The Tuffo Muddy Buddy has definitely come in handy for us during camping trips. You can find these at All Natural Babies in Sherwood Park, West Coast Kids and Bosom Babies on 124 Street.
Rainboots – these are a must have especially for those kids who like to splash around in giant mud puddles. They complement the splash suits well for those muddy puddle jumping days. Our favorite line of rain boots are Bogs because of the easy pull on handles, fun prints and durability. I personally own a pair and absolutely love them so it was only natural for me to look into purchasing a pair for my boys once the time came. They cost a bit more compared to purchasing a pair from Walmart but what I have done in the past is purchase the winter version of the Bogs boot to use in the winter and spring/summer – the winter version is slightly thicker, weather rated and still 100% waterproof. You can find Bogs at the Canadian and family owned Brown Shoes (three locations in Edmonton).
Native Shoes – after going through dozens of summer footwear for the boys, Native Shoes is a line we have fallen in love with for many reasons – they are incredibly lightweight, durable, waterproof, washable and odor resistant. My boys love them because they get to choose from fun colors or designs, they can wear them with or without socks and splash around at the splash park with them on and not feel like a ten pound weight is attached to their foot. They dry quickly and are easy to take on and off. Styles vary by location but you can find them at Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Refinery Clothing in Terwilleger, and West Coast Kids. For a more structured summer shoe, we are fans of Keen Sandals, they are waterproof as well but provide more support when we are trekking on a warm day.
What are some of your summer must-have items with the kids?
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