Summer is finally here! It’s time to spend our family days at the pool or beach to enjoy some fun in the sun! But boy is it frustrating when you get to the beach and realize you forgot something at home. I should know, I’ve had three beach trips with my 2 year old, where I saw another family with something and thought, “Why didn’t I bring that!”
No worries, I have listed all the beach must haves for a day of fun in the sun with your toddler.
The first thing you want to make sure you pack in your toddler’s beach bag is sunscreen to protect your child’s precious skin from the sun. Here is an article from VeryWell.com that helped me to choose the right sunscreen for our son.
This is what we look for in a sunscreen:
- Mineral sunscreen (instead of chemical sunscreens) – Lists zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as an active ingredient. These are physical barriers, and less likely to be absorbed into skin than ingredients in chemical sunscreens. Parents.com goes into more detail on why you shouldn’t apply chemical sunscreen to your child’s skin.
- Broad spectrum – blocks UVA and UBA rays
- SPF 30 or 50 – protects against 97% to 98% of UVB rays
Below are sunscreens that meet the requirements and are free of fragrances, dyes, parabens, Phthalates, Propyl-paraben & Butyl-paraben, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
Hi, I’m a first time mom, guilty of forgetting to bring towels to the pool. Luckily, it only happened once, at the pool nearby, instead of at the beach, far away. It’s just one of the essentials that can easily be forgotten.
2 Extra Outfits
Of course after a day of fun in the sun, you don’t want your toddler jumping into your car with a wet, sandy swim suit. Bring one or two outfits for your little one to change in to after they’re done playing in the water.
If your toddler will wear them, I’d also suggest a hat and sun glasses. My 2 year old will wear them long enough for a picture and then throw them off lol so I don’t even pack them anymore.
Swim Diapers & Wipes
These are a must if your little toddler isn’t potty trained.
The first time I took my son to the pool, I was a total newb. I had no idea that swim diapers even existed. And after an hour or so of fun in the pool, we got out and I discovered an obonoxiously swollen diaper. When I opened the diaper, I found these squishy beads on my son’s skin. It really creeped me out.
Then my friend told me that my son needed a swim diaper. *face palm* duh! Swim diapers were created with a special material to absorb and not swell in water. We get ours at Target, but they’re also available on Amazon and local grocery stores.
Wipes are great even if your child is potty trained to clean hands and surfaces.
These little floatation puddle jumpers are a total GAME CHANGER! I went to the pool with my friend and her 2.5 year old when my son was about 1 year old. Her son put this puddle jumper on and went on his merry way lol. He loved kicking around in the pool with his new found independence and freedom. I knew I had to get one!
The Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Life Jackets have been tested and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. They’re designed for children 30-50 lbs. I love that the safety buckle snaps in the back so children can’t remove vests on their own. And they have tons of design options.
Please note, you must always have eyes on your children when they’re in or around water.
You don’t want your little one getting their tennis filled with sand or water. Having water shoes that are light-weight, easy to clean, and meant for the water is a great addition to your beach or pool bag.
Whether the sand is hot or your taking your toddler on a potty break, you’ll be happy you brought shoes for he or she to wear.
We love the Native Jefferson shoes. They’re great, breathable shoes that can even be worn in the water. Super easy to clean, just rinse them off! Worth every penny.
Cooler with Ice, Fruit, & Water
Pack a cooler filled with ice, water, and fruit to enjoy some nice refreshments in the sun. Our favorites are watermelon and pineapple.
*If you bring fruit, don’t forget to pack utensils and paper plates.*
Our family has the tradition of picking up kolaches on the way to the beach and picking up take out on the way home. And we all know it’s going to be a bad time if our toddler gets hangry so we bring more snacks than we think we’ll need. We like to bring dry snacks such as pretzels, cereal bars, almonds, and graham crackers. It gives variety so if my son doesn’t want something, we have options. We also pack pineapples and watermelon in the cooler.
Water in Spill Proof Toddler Travel Cups
While toddlers are able to drink from a cup, I prefer to use spill proof cups for when we’re out and about, especially if my little one is going to want a drink in the car. These are my favorite toddler cups.
I personally am not a fan of cups with straws because I always lose the little spooly that you’re supposed to use to clean the straws. They’re just to small for me to keep track of, which is why I’m a big fan of these cups.
Believe it or not, not all kids run straight from the car, into the water and spend all day in the ocean.
I had no idea.
The first time my son went to the beach, he was about 18 months and had a great time playing in the water. The second time we took him to the beach, he was 2 and really wasn’t interested in getting in the water at all for the first hour. And we were totally unprepared for his apprehension to play in the ocean. We were just sitting around trying to figure out ways to get him into the water.
The next weekend, we returned to the beach with beach toys and our son had a ball! He played in the sand and after a while was happy to play in the water.
Beach toys are a fun and inexpensive way for children to enjoy extra time at the beach. Sand is such an awesome sensory activity especially since the texture changes so much from wet to dry. This is especially helpful if you have more than one child with you, since one is usually ready to go before the other.
In a beach toy set, I look for it to include a pal, a couple of shovels, and a few shapes to build in the sand. We bought this one while shopping in Target, but I’ve also listed some great alternatives as well.
I sent hubby to the store to pick up a beach chair for our son, and he returned with this one. I was a tad bit annoyed because I thought that the piece intended for back support had too large of a gap for our 2 year old. I was expecting him to return with something like this.
Honestly, our two year old loved the beach chair and wouldn’t let anyone else sit in it. I found that this is a great chair for an independent two year old that wants to get into their chair on their own.
Water-Proof Beach Blanket
This never occurred to me until we spent the day at the beach with my in-laws. They’re NOTORIOUS for having everything you’ll ever need lol. My sister-in-law brought her outdoor blanket and I thought it was so uneccessary. Since we all had chairs, I just knew sand would get all over it and no one would use it.
You know who ended up using it? My two year old when he was ready to take a nap. He’s never done at the beach before, but maybe because he never had a comfortable place to lay down.
Either way, I stood corrected and we bought this one the next day lol.
If you plan on spending the day at the beach, it’s a good idea to bring either an umbrella or canopy. Especially during meal time or snack breaks. The sun is so much easier to endure in the water or in the shade.
We found this out during our most recent beach trip. My father-in-law brought both an umbrella and a canopy for 6 adults and my son.
The umbrella was great for two people to sit under, I was impressed with the UV protection. If you have more than 2 adults and 1 child, I’d say go for the canopy as it fit all 6 adults and our son comfortably. Unfortunately, I’m not sure which canopy brand he used, so I don’t have one to link.
Bottle of Tap Water
No this isn’t to drink lol. Bring a big bottle of tap water to rinse sand off hands and feet. This was especially helpful during our last beach day trip since the water station we expected to rinse off at was out of order.
I like to organize my son’s beach bag with gallon size ziplock bags. The ziplock bags ensure that liquids such as sunscreen and bug spray don’t spill in the bag and they help to keep everything organized. I also like to bring a couple of grocery store bags for wet clothes and dirty diapers.
There you have it, all of my beach day essentials for a day at the beach with a toddler. Mainly you’ll need: food, drinks, skin care, clothing, safety, fun, and clean up supplies. I hope you found this helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you’ve tried anything I’ve listed above.