My definition of a perfect summer vacation, when travelling with toddlers, is hitting the beach with my two kids and husband – now that I know exactly what things to take to the beach with toddlers and avoid some of our earlier family beach vacation mishaps.
Since my childhood, the ocean has drawn me more than hills, flamboyant cities and amusement parks. With any luck, my ocean-loving genes have been passed on to my kiddos as well.
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My twins are 5 right now and we have been doing beach outings for the last 3 years. Let me confess something, our first few outings suffered a lot because of the lack of planning. Being a new mother who used to be a low-key vagabond, I had no idea about what to bring to the beach with toddlers.
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Needless to say, I learnt from my mistakes with every family beach vacation that went slightly haywire due to my lack of proper planning. For the last two consecutive years, I went on a beach vacation with toddlers to Cape Cod fully prepared and guess what? Everything went exactly according to our plan and we had some of the best family beach holidays with our toddlers.
Through this list of beach necessities for toddlers, I want to help all you new parents who are just as clueless as I was 3 years ago. Let me help you prepare a fail-safe beach vacation packing list for toddlers to make your next beach outing fuss-free, fun and relaxing.
Packing List for Toddler Beach Vacation
What to bring to the beach for a day with toddlers? Here are items that should be on your beach vacation checklist:
- Sunscreen – This is the most obvious, but also one of the most important things to pack for a beach vacation. Being out in the sun all day without sunscreen is dangerous for your toddler’s sensitive skin. According to American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines, always go for a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 to shield the skin against UVA and UVB rays.
I personally prefer using a spray instead of a cream-based sunscreen for the former is easier to apply and doesn’t cake on to the skin.
- Hats with Velcro Ties – In addition to sunscreen, sun hats with velcro ties are a beach must have with toddlers. The best sun hats for toddlers are made from breathable mesh fabric with a wide brim, to protect their head, face and neck from exposure to the scorching heat.
- Hooded Beach Towels for Toddlers – The first time we went to the beach, I made a rookie mistake of not bringing beach towels as we hadn’t planned to swim. I had to learn the hard way that beach towels have more than just one use. Even if your kids don’t intend to swim, these towels can be used as shade and even as a picnic blanket.
Now that I am teaching them how to swim, I make them wear hooded towels on top of their bathing suits. It’s great how these towels don’t slip off when they are running.
- Collapsible Beach Wagon – I switched from a double travel stroller to a collapsible wagon for beach days a year ago. Why? I just realized how my kids are growing up super fast and soon they will outgrow the stroller seats. The wagon I own now has wider seats and is comfortable for my twins.
Another reason why bringing a wagon is a must is because you can throw in all your toddler beach gear such as coolers, snacks, beach toys and backpacks. Trust me, it does make life a lot easier.
- Beach Toys for Toddlers – Beach and sand toys must be included in any list of beach essentials for toddlers. My kids would start bawling if they didn’t find their shovels, buckets and sand castles molds in their beach backpack. Save yourself the trouble and include these simple and lightweight beach toys on your beach checklist for toddlers. Playing in the water and sand with their toys are the best beach activities for toddlers!
- Swim Arm Bands or Swim Vest – Most toddlers will love being in the water and even if they don’t, safety is the first priority! We all know how fast a toddler can move when we look away for a second. As their mother, I also love watching them enjoying their time trying to swim and chill in the water. To keep them safe while enjoying playing in the water, I never forget to toss in the swim arm bands.
- Snacks and Water – Some toddlers can do without the toys but not without snacks. Even if you are heading to the beach post lunch-hour, bring along some healthy and delicious snacks in a cooler. Don’t forget to throw plenty of water in too. This will help you and your kids stay active and hydrated throughout the day.
- Baby Powder – Just one time I forgot to pack the baby powder in my beach bag and my kids were not pleased. Actually, I can’t blame them. Anyone would be cranky when they have to wear shoes on sand-coated, wet feet. Baby powder is super useful for removing sand off your toddlers feet and drying them off quickly. Now I never forget to include it in my things to take to the beach with toddlers.
- Wet Dry Bags – Kids will be kids. Unexpected things like them spilling juice on their clothes happen all the time, so I got myself a large wet-dry bag in which I keep the (unused) swim diapers, snacks, toys and extra dry clothes.
Once my kids are out of water, the wet bathing suits go in the bag and fresh, dry clothes come out. Life made so simple!
- Portable Fan – For kids that are very sensitive to heat, a small fan is a beach must have for toddlers. A small portable fan or even a spray bottle with cold water from the cooler, can help them cool off after they are tired from playing and running all over the beach. I take it out when they stop for a snack time to provide them utmost comfort.
P.S: I also enjoy this fan as much as my kids do.
Better safe than sorry is my go-to mantra whenever I pack my beach bag for a day at the beach with toddlers. After a lot of trial and error, I have finally formed this beach checklist for toddlers that guarantees a wholesome, enjoyable beach day, without overloading my bag.
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Other Beach Essentials for Toddlers
Here are a few other beach accessories for toddlers to consider for your family beach vacation:
- Beach Umbrella or Pop Up Beach Tent for Toddlers – If you plan to be at the beach for the entire day or the beach doesn’t offer much shade, a beach umbrella or pop up tent for toddlers will give your toddler some time out of the sun. Find even more options for the best toddler beach tents here.
- Beach or Water Shoes – The sand can get incredibly hot so protect your toddlers sensitive feet by adding some toddler beach shoes to the “things to bring the the beach” packing list. If you are planning a family beach vacation in Europe, then water shoes will be a key beach accessory for your toddler on those rocky beaches.
- Rash Guard or Full Swimsuit – Get added skin protection for your toddler with a swimsuit that covers arms and legs or a rash guard.
- Beach Blanket – Get a beach blanket with room for everyone but that won’t take up a lot of extra room. With sand anchor pockets and stakes, you’ll get a ton of use out of an outdoor blanket. Especially an outdoor blanket that is sand and water-resistant.
Enjoy your time on the beach! A beach vacation makes for one of the most toddler friendly holidays!
Thank you to Alvina Emmy of Parent Loves for writing this guest post for us.
Alvina loves to give helpful and practical advice to parents, including recommendations for top baby products.
Click here to shop this entire list of Toddler Beach Essentials on Amazon!