Two years ago, after a couple of trips to the beach with a then-little baby Landon, I wrote a post that has gone on to be one of the most popular posts I ever wrote. My Top 15 MUST-PACK Items for Taking a Baby to the Beach is a great resource if you plan to head to the beach with a kid under the age of 1.
2 years later, we are in the throws of Toddler-hood. It is time to update our beach packing list to reflect hitting the sand and waves with a 2 year old. There is definitely some overlap between the two lists, as some things have earned a permanent spot in our beach bag, no matter what age our kids are. Without further delay, I present 15 MUST-PACK Items for Taking a Toddler to the Beach!
1. Beach Tent Sun Shelter – For shelter, shade and just a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the beach, these little tents are incredibly convenient. A couple of things to look for: one that is extremely simple to set up and a bonus if it offers some sort of UV Guard Protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Landon actually used to nap for hours at a time in our beach tent. Both kids enjoy playing and lounging around in the tent when they want a break from the sun.
These tents fold down to practically nothing and usually come with some sort of storage pouch which makes them super easy to store and travel with.
2. Construction Vehicle Toys – Give a truck-loving toddler a dump truck and limitless sand, and you won’t believe how long he’ll stay occupied! We always fill up one of our big blue IKEA bags with some of Landon’s “diggers.” Both of the kids have a blast filling and dumping sand and water.
3. Hat/Cover Up/Rash Guard – (or all of the above) Hats keep sun out of your child’s eyes and off of his scalp. Kids’ skin is super sensitive. Sand is the archenemy of sensitive. It is scratchy, itchy and finds a way into EVERYTHING. Cover ups and rash guards help to protect a child from all things sun and sand.
4. Spray bottle with fresh water – Nothing fancy here, folks. Pick up a run-of-the-mill spray bottle (dollar store, travel section of Walmart or Target, etc). Fill it with clean tap water before you head to the beach.
These came in handy multiple times on the beach when, despite our best efforts, the kids insisted on grabbing, holding, scraping and eating sand. A quick spray of water on them (or on our hands first and then splashed onto them) and we were able to significantly cut down on the amount of sand that they ate for lunch.
6. Small Inflatable Baby Pool and Bath Toys – Years ago, my cousin suggested buying a tiny little baby pool for the beach. Time and time again, it proves to be the best boredom buster to keep the babies cool and entertained. Throw in some bath toys for an instant hit.
7. Jogging Stroller or Wagon (bonus if it has all-terrain/off-road wheels) – We picked up a jogging stroller with big ‘ol tires at the last consignment sale specifically for things like the beach. We loaded up baby Landon and our beach gear and pushed him pretty effortlessly across the sand. The dry sand was a little tough in spots, but the wet sand was a breeze. Landon was happy to sit and eat or lay down to nap in his stroller and I loved that it kept him out of the sand.
It was also convenient for those just-before-naptime moments when he was cranky. I simply took him for a walk down the beach and he was out for the count.
As he has grown up and no longer enjoys the stroller as much, we have transitioned to a collapsible wagon. This thing rocks! Takes up ZERO space in the car but gives us an instant option to toting Landon AND gear across the beach.
8. Water-Resistant Blanket – These things are all the rage! We have actually owned a couple for a few years. They have earned a permanent spot in each of our cars and have given us a nice dry spot to sit at many horse shows, beach trips, fireworks nights and more.
You can see my sister’s blanket in this pic that I took of Lily while she was hiding from the attack seagulls as she ate her lunch!
9. Baby Powder – Regular old baby powder comes in handy at the beach for sand removal. Just rub some powder on those sandy legs, feet, arms, you get the idea. The powder helps the sand come off without irritating the skin.
10. Sunscreen – Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget to throw the sunscreen into your beach bag. Make sure you lather up the kids before you leave for the beach and then reapply according to your product’s instructions.
11. Swim Diapers and Other Essentials – Maybe you’re not going to haul the entire diaper bag to the beach with you, but be sure to pack enough diapers (regular and swim) and wipes to get you through your day!
12. Snacks and water – Think about what meals and snack time(s) are going to occur as you sit on the beach. Pack plenty of bottled water as well as snacks and food for yourself AND your kids. Think about any bottles, formula or other feeding essentials that you might need and pack for them into your beach bag. We love our Pack-It Cool bags for beach days and road trips. The entire bag is essentially a big ice pack, keeping everything cool for hours.
13. Ziploc bags – I admit, I am pretty obsessed with Ziploc bags when we go on a trip. They help me to compartmentalize and organize all of our STUFF from snacks to toiletries. The beach is no exception. Since Ziplocs are sealed WATERproof bags, they are ideal for keeping items away from the water and sand. I like to pack food, diaper essentials and also spare outfits in Ziploc bags. Bonus – turn an empty Ziploc into a trash bag for any food wrappers, dirty diapers, etc.
14. Mesh Bags – Pick these bags up anywhere from Walmart to the dollar store. Sometimes they even come in sets of multiple bags. Tuck these bags into your beach bag and at the end of the day, throw anything super sandy inside. Clothes, toys, etc will shake some of their excess sand off as you walk to your car or hotel, cutting down on the amount of sand that is dragged into your living space.
15. Beach Chair – It never fails – we get our beach area all set up, turn around, and find one of the sandy, ocean-soaked kids living it up in OUR beach chairs! Solve that problem quickly but bringing kid-sized chairs. I especially love the chairs with sun shelter.
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