Whether you are getting ready to have your first Island Baby or you are planning your little one’s first trip to Hawai’i, these are the baby essentials that you need to have a great time with your babe!
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One of my favorite things to do on Kauai is hike. With lush tropical forests and stunning coastal views, Kauai is a hiker’s paradise. There are hikes available at almost every skill level and yes there are trails that are accessible for kids or mama’s hiking with baby!
I hiked all through my pregnancy with my son. So after he was born it seemed very natural to hike with him. I had a lot of joint laxity towards the end of my pregnancy and for about 3 months post partum, so I started off with beach walks and easy paths, like the Bike Path in Kapaa. I also really enjoyed walking through Limahuli Gardens on the Northshore and I highly recommend McBride Botanical Gardens. I gradually transitioned into more strenuous climbs and was doing 4 – 8 miles with Gunnar as we hit the 6 month mark. I recommend moving at a pace that works with you! Be sure to listen to your body! Hiking on Kauai can have many challenges, from rough or muddy terrain and steep cliffs, to weather challenges and heat!
For hiking my preferred carrier was the Ergo Baby Omni 360. I had their limited edition tropical print (did you know ErgoBaby is a Mauai Company, that was inspired by the founder’s love of hiking). I actually love the carrier so much that I also had it in navy. I have gifted both to friends over the last few months, as Gunnar has outgrown them.
The mesh panels give better breathability, which in my opinion is EVERYTHING, when it comes to baby wearing here on the island. The Lumbar support, chest strap and cushy straps make carrying babe a lot more comfortable, even on flat terrain. The carrier also has a pop out sunshade/rain hood to protect babe. The carrier allows for front or back carries or facing in or out. I pair with a waist pack or small backpack for water, snacks and Sunscreen. I personally find the little carry pouch that comes with the carrier useless. The Omni 360 was great because there is no infant insert needed. Which means you can start practicing wearing babe from the get go. Yes, practicing. You AND your baby need time to get used to using ANY carrier. You will save you both a ton of stress if you practice getting in and out and hanging out in a carrier.
I also highly recommend a sling carrier for baby, for me this was an absolute MUST. These are lightweight, breathable, comfortable and easy to pack. I found them to be so much cooler than a wrap style carrier, and even cooler than my Ergos. I used them for everyday activities, like going out to eat, shopping, beach walks, hiking and exploring. If you have never used a ring sling I highly recommend checking out some tutorials and getting some practice in BEFORE your vacation. (Yes, more practice). Wild Bird offers high quality, beautiful linens, durability and a TON of informational videos to get you started. I also used a mesh sling, by Beachfront Baby Wraps. I loved using this sling in the water because the sling doesn’t get waterlogged and it dries so fast (I also SHOWERED with mine, which was an absolute LIFE SAVER as a new mom). The sand also falls through the mesh which saves baby’s skin. Slings are amazing for the beach (or anywhere really), because they take little space in your beach bag. They dry quickly if they get wet. It is a cozy place for baby to nap and you can still be comfortable.
That being said hiking Kauai with a Toddler has been an entirely different experience. Now that Gunnar is 2 and so independent, he prefers to do much of the climbing himself. This can be a very slow and at times nerve wracking experience, as many of the most beautiful hikes on Kauai are along cliffsides. He has out grown his Ergo and I haven’t purchased another toddler carrier at this point. I do still bring a sling carrier along because it is small enough to easily tuck it in a pack. He can nap in it and it’s still pretty comfortable for me even at his size (3ft tall and about 30lbs).
Collapsible hiking poles are a must if you plan to hike a lot while you are here. These are a lifesaver in sometimes slippery, crumbley or steep terrain. I bring them on every hike, they get pretty small, so I can stash them in the pack if I am not carrying the babe. The extra stability can be really helpful if you need to scale up or down steep hills, especially when it is muddy or is there is loose dirt.
Light Weight Towel
I highly recommend getting a microfiber towel. These are great because the pack down super small, they dry fast, repel sand and can double as a blanket for your baby. They are so much more practical than your resort towels, which get waterlogged and FULL of sand. I love my Surfer Towels, which have beautiful and fun prints. These tend to cost a little more but are really great quality. I purchased mine at Sand People in Hanalei. Costco also has microfiber towels for about 8 bucks each, if you are looking for a more budget friendly version, but you will definitely be missing out on the quality. Eccosophy makes some great prints and the towels are good quality. I like these because they offer all the awesomeness of my Surfer Towel, but at about half the price.
Be sure to get a great diaper cream. This is a must for sandy little beach bums! We learned the hard way that all day in the water, humidity and sand makes for a sore little beach bum! I love Boudreaux’s Butt Paste over all the creams I have used so far. I put it on right before we head to the beach and it creates the perfect moisture barrier. We don’t usually diaper at the beach, but this is totally up to you! He loves his surf shorts, so he goes commando with those. We have only had one poop incident in two years. I love reusable swim diapers for the pool. We have had a great experience with Alva Baby Diapers, and we also used their pocket diaper system for day-to-day diapering (comment below if you want to hear more about our cloth diapering journey). Huggies Little Swimmers are disposable, contain messes and don’t get all soggy with pool time.
This is a must for long days at the beach. A hat and sunglasses are recommended (but I realize they can be very hard to keep on your kid) and a rashguard will really give your little one protection from the sand, salt and sun. I had a naked baby, mostly so we relied heavily on creating great shade. I am going to be honest, I just don’t think a beach umbrella gives enough shade for a day at the beach with littles. They also tend to fly out of the sand when the wind picks up. Costco has a couple of great pop-up shade tents that are reasonable in price and are easy to carry and use. I personally use a NESO tent, which I absolutely love. It’s super lightweight, reasonably quick to set up and they are a lot less dangerous in the wind. I usually go this route over our Coleman pop up tent, because of the weight. You want to really fill the sandbags well (like over fill) and pull them out tight to make sure your tent can handle the wind. If it falls down, it’s super-fast and easy to set back up.
No matter how much shade you have, DO NOT FORGET SUNSCREEN! I like to use a stick Sunscreen for me and babe because I do not need drippy Sunscreen or a slippery baby. My preferred Sunscreen? Locally made Hawaii Peeps. It smells amazing, is reef safe, sweat proof and will leave your skin feeling so soft. Pair it with their mosquito repellant Buggah Off. Pick it up at a local surf shop or order it online. I got mine at the Hanalei Surf Co. Sun Bum makes awesome vegan sunscreens that smell great and are reef friendly.
Do you need your stroller? I personally would say No. If you have a baby carrier, you really do not need a stroller. Many places here are rugged and may not treat a stroller well. If you are hiking a lot or beaching a lot a stroller is not practical. However, if you like to go out for a morning jog with baby in a stroller, bring it. Some people find traveling with a stroller makes things easier, a safe easy place to stash baby and gear is great! I personally did not find traveling with a baby and a stroller easy and I relied entirely on a baby carrier. Now that my son is getting into the toddler years, a stroller is becoming more useful in situations, but I can rarely get him to hang out in his. If you do bring a stroller, I recommend one that is light weight and compact enough to fit in the trunk of your rental car and sturdy enough to handle a little off-road terrain.
A CAR SEAT
This is going to be your preference entirely. Traveling with a car seat can be cumbersome (this is where your stroller may be helpful). Most car rental companies provide car seats for an additional charge. I personally always travel with a car seat. Up until recently I would just check his car seat with our luggage when we checked in (you may want to get a car seat cover, the seat can take dirty lickin’s when you check it). Now that he is a toddler, I just purchased the Safety 1st Grand 2 in 1 for flying. It is lightweight (11 pounds) and in is a great price point. I like having our own seat because it is familiar, comfortable and I know that it is in good shape. We will be making our first interisland flight with it this at the end of the month. I like that he will have a place that is comfortable for him to sit and will keep him contained. We can also just grab an uber when we make it to the Big Island, instead of having to rent a car and seat. If you are going to bring your seat on the plane, make sure that it is FAA approved for flight (not all of them are!) I also recommend going light, because you will probably need to carry it over head when you board the plane. Pair your car seat with a luggage strap and you can wheel it around on your luggage or strap it to your stroller with ease.
PACKING IT ALL
With my parents living in Washington State, Gunnar and I have done our fair share of traveling in his 2 years. We also have done plenty of short interisland trips. I totally understand how frustrating it can be to pack for a baby. With sleeping needs (like a white noise machine), diapers, bottles, toys and clothes, it feels like there is no room for your stuff! After my first trip to Washington (with just myself and Gunnar) and two fully loaded suitcases, I told myself NEVER AGAIN. Now I ship my items ahead or order what I want on Amazon and have it delivered to my destination, or stop an purchase it on the way to my parents or a hotel. I have done this with camping gear, hiking packs, our white noise machine, supplements (like protein powders), extra bottles, I even sent my breast pump over. I use USPS flat rate boxes, they are a fair price to and from Hawaii, they can be insured, and they about take 3 days to get there (you can check with your post office to see how long and how much it will cost).
If your property cannot receive packages check out our service page, we are happy to receive and hold packages for your arrival. We can drop packages at the front desk of your Hotel or place them in your condo or vacation rental as directed. Rather have us do the shopping? We can do that too! Let’s connect!
What are your Island Baby Essentials? Comment Below!