Yes, I’ve become That Mom, the uncool one sacking out under the big beach umbrella while everyone else on the beach bears the heat for that lovely glowing tan. What can I say–I’m a delicate flower. And I definitely want my kids to have some respite from the sun at the first sign of pink shoulders.

Here are just a few beach umbrellas and tents worth checking out when shade is as essential as a swimsuit that stays on when a big wave hits.

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Sport-brella family beach umbrella | Cool Mom Picks

The Sport-Brella
One of the big issues with big umbrellas is keeping them down in the face of big wind gusts. The well-lauded Sport-Brella solves this problem with an 8-foot wide stretch of UPF 50 polyester that leans back onto the sand, nearly like an open tent. I like the 4 colors, and the fact it turns into a convenient 9-lb. roll for easy carrying. If it’s windy, just pop open those windows! ($56 and up, Amazon)


Rio Sunshade beach umbrella | Cool Mom Picks

Rio Sunshade Beach Umbrella
For a very basic, no-frills, but very cute beach umbrella, this 6-footer is a great deal. And the great color helps guarantee the kids can spot you on the way back from the snack bar. You may want to also invest in this top-rated sand anchor package for under $10 (less if you buy them together through Amazon), which claims to keep it sturdy in winds up to 40 MPH. And I totally want the umbrella hook, which mounts on the pole to help keep towels or cameras off the ground. ($19.63 at Amazon)


Nautica beach umbrella | Cool Mom Picks

Nautica Beach Umbrella 50+
This top-rated umbrella is tough to track down! It’s 7-feet wide, so it’s big but not unwieldy. It offers two tilt positions, and the vented canopy helps manage wind gusts. The red flags design (which I’m not crazy about) is on Amazon, but I much prefer the blue stripes, which you can find through various eBay sellers.($49, Amazon)


SkinCom Solartent | Cool Mom Picks

SkinCom Solartent for Two
Not enough room for a whole family, but a good option if it’s more for the adults–or even for you and your newborn baby. It’s also got enough coverage to keep coolers, lunches and other accessories out of the sun while you’re frolicking about. It does only have about a 20MPH limit on wind resistance though, so if you’re ocean-bound, this might not be your best bet. But on breezy days by the bay or lake? You should be in great shape. ($35.67+ at Amazon)


Cadis aluminum rapid shelter | Cool Mom Picks

Cadis Aluminum Rapid Shelter
If you are serious about your beach time–as in, your posse arrives at the crack of dawn and stays until the lifeguards kick you out–a full beach canopy might be your ideal umbrella alternative. This is a serious bit of equipment that takes you way beyond the beach. It sets up in about a minute, with a waterproof nylon canopy, and adjustable heights. It is heavy at 37 pounds, so it’s definitely not for quick jaunts to the beach. Spend the day, or get double use out of it for picnics or camping. Great investment. ($239 at REI)
UPDATE there’s now an 8×8 Shelter available; the 10×10 is not.


Suntiva heavy duty beach umbrella | Cool Mom Picks

Suntiva 100+UPF Heavy Duty Beach Umbrella with Tilt-Fiberglass Ribs
This umbrella sounds like it was made more for war than sand castle building, but if it’s as good as the reviews, it’s a smart option to consider. The pole extends to 85″ high (though that’s not always best for wind avoidance) and I like that the skirted valance can offer a little more protection in sudden sand-gusts or rainstorms. At only 5.5 pounds in the carrying bag, this could be perfect for daily treks to the sea. ($78.98, Amazon)


Guava Family GoCrib baby sunshade | Cool Mom Picks

Guava Family GoCrib Sunshade
If it’s just your little one who needs that sun protection, we’re big fans of Guava Family’s GoCrib travel crib which is inflatable (!!) and great for all kinds of travel. If you have one, or are investing in one, then it definitely makes sense to add on the sunshade that stretches over the top, keeping that sensitive skin protected with a lightweight nylon/mesh fabric. (Go Crib $249.99 at their site; Sunshade accessory $40 at REI)