Five Smart Tips for Taking Toddlers to the Beach

Is there anything more peaceful than a trip to the beach, planting your toes in the sand and listening to the waves lapping against the shoreline? If you have young children, then you probably don’t remember the beach being anything like that. Sorry.

Taking your toddlers to the beach may not be a relaxing vacation, but you and your little ones can have a fabulous time. Of course, if you do more of the work on the front end with a thorough toddler packing list, you can have a fabulous beach trip. These five fantastic tips can help you prepare for taking your kids on a vacation for some fun in the sun.

Babygirl and babyboy sitting on the beach in straw hats

Babygirl and babyboy sitting on the beach in straw hats

1. Plan Ahead

A few weeks before your trip, start by making a baby packing list to include all the basics as well as the extra things you are going to need to keep your kids healthy and entertained.  Expect to take an outfit for each day of your trip, a few pairs of pajamas, and a couple of pairs of shoes for on and off the sand. Some other things you may want to include are:

  • At least two bathing suits to rotate as they get wet
  • An extra outfit or two for accidents
  • A jacket for rainy days and cool air conditioning indoors
  • Plenty of sunscreen for young, delicate skin
  • Sun hats, swim diapers, and other protective clothing
  • Beach toys or an assortment of cups and utensil for playing in the sand
  • An oversized umbrella, pop-up tent, or other portable shelter

Your toddler packing list is your friend. Keep it with you and add to it as you think of them so you are super prepared before you go. Start your packing a few days before your departure in case you need to run out to pick up any last minute items.

Adorable boy at tropical beach applying sunblock cream on a father's back.

Adorable boy at tropical beach applying sunblock cream on a father's back.

2. Make the Drive Fly By

If you are flying to your coastal destination, good luck! Most of us are more likely to head to the beach by car, and if that sounds more like your speed, you should load your car with your beach gear as well as items you need on the road. Take snacks that can keep your little one content; some parents even take along special road trip treats that may be different than every day nibbles. A small cooler for fruit, cheese sticks, and drinks may also come in handy on the beach. Child-friendly music and DVDs can keep the younger set entertained if car napping isn’t a thing in your world. You may even want to stash a few small toy surprises, but don’t forget old familiar favorites as well.

3. Hitting the Beach

Making it on the sand takes a whole other baby packing list. You should plan how much you want to tote and how you are going to get it all on the beach. A mesh bag can be a great way to shake some of the extra sand off your belongings. A waterproof bag for phones and keys that you keep away from little hands is also a lifesaver. Other things you may want to carry along are:

  • Adult and pint-size beach chairs
  • Beach towels and a blanket or sheet
  • A wet-dry bag for damp shirts and swimsuits
  • A Coast Guard-approved flotation device
  • Extra sunscreen
  • Baby powder to get sand off little fingers and toes

We’ve even seen some moms and dads take a small inflatable kiddie pool. You can place toys and your kids in it for a break from sand, or fill it with ocean water for a personal tide pool.

Babies eating watermelon on a beach during family vacation

Babies eating watermelon on a beach during family vacation

4. Taking a Break

Let’s get back to that idea about relaxing at the beach. One of the undeniable joys of a beach trip is having a break from all the stress and worry of regular life. Less is more, especially when you take young ones to the shore. Don’t try to fit too much into every day. A few hours on the beach can be followed by a meal and a nap before you splash around in the pool for the afternoon.

Don’t expect to spend all day working on your tan and reading. Let your child’s sleep and meal routine rule your beach time.  That may translate to early morning walks to look for shells as well as an early bedtime at night, and that’s okay. Trust us; it will make your return to home a bit easier if you maintain some of your regular schedule while on vacation.

5. Tidbits and Odds-n-Ends

Truth be told, it’s pretty tough to narrow down our tips to just five, so here’s a few extra:

  • Play with your kids. Make a beach treasure hunt. Sit in the sand and dig with your hands. Splash around safely near the water. Have fun.
  • Try a little quiet time for everyone before dinner. Read some books together, listen to music, and just have a moment of calm and peace.
  • Be flexible. Rain happens, so do a little research into indoor activities in the area in case you need a back-up plan.
  • Sunscreen is best applied inside before you ever step out into the sunlight. It needs time to soak into skin to work properly. Use lotion for your first application because it tends to offer better protection.  Spray-on sunscreen is best left for reapplication or touch-ups after playing in the water.
  • The sun’s rays are stronger near the coast, and you should try to avoid exposure during the peak hours in the middle of the day. Be sure everyone has a hat, sunglasses, and other protective wear to prevent sun burn. You may want to bring along aloe or another soothing lotion to use after bath time.
  • Don’t forget the importance of self-care. You and your partner can take turns having an hour or two of time alone to do your own thing for a chance to recharge.

When you plan ahead and make a thorough baby packing list, you can have everything you need for a great family beach vacation. It’s worth the time and effort to prepare before you leave so you can enjoy yourself when you get away. For more helpful beach tips or to share some of your own, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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