If you’re heading to the beach with toddlers (or toddler twins!) you need to have a toddler beach packing list. Knowing what the best beach essentials for toddlers are! It will make the day way easier and a lot more fun if you are prepared.
Growing up in Rhode Island, the majority of my childhood summers were spent at the beach. I have amazing memories of spending the entire day at the beach.
We would get there super early in the morning and bring a picnic lunch. Sometimes we would run down the road to get pizza or clam cakes and chowder for dinner, go for an evening swim, and return home after dark.
Those were the best days!
As a teenager, I spent many days at the beach, and they were very lowkey. I’d bring a beach chair, beach towel, sunscreen, and book, and that’s it.
When my husband and first got married, we lived in Florida and had many lowkey day trips to the beach as well. We didn’t really prep for them and didn’t bring much at all.
We moved to Ohio during our second year of marriage and were there for the first four years of parenting. This past year we moved to Rhode Island and I was SO EXCITED for summer beach days. As the weather got warmer and I started thinking about going to the beach with my children.
As a stay-at-home-mom, I planned on taking them during the week on my own, and it hit me… with three small children, I needed to be prepared and I had no idea what were essential items for a beach trip with three toddlers.
*Post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Luckily, my mom had plenty of experience doing just that, and she was a wealth of information, but quite a bit had changed in the past 20+ years!
I started asking some of my friends for help and set about researching the best toddler beach essentials.
Beach Packing List For Toddlers
Now, if you are traveling for a beach vacation, it’s not possible to take all of these things. We have a family vacation in Florida coming up and the house we are renting provides many beach essentials.
If you’re renting a house, make sure to ask what is included!
A Beach Wagon or Beach Cart
Once my children are older, I definitely plan on having them help carry things. However, while they are still so little, I need to be able to get it all onto the beach by myself.
When it comes to transporting your gear to the beach, you have 2 choices: a beach cart or a beach wagon. Beach carts are MUCH easier to pull in the sand than a wagon, but they can’t transport your toddlers!
Beach wagons require a bit more force to pull through the soft sand, but your kids can ride in them. So it really depends on your needs.
I have an entire post dedicated to the best beach wagons for toddlers that you can read!
However, I’ll give you the spoiler version here:
Beach carts are my preferred method because they are so much easier to pull through the sand. My kids have always been fine walking from the car to the beach because they were so excited to go play! I’d bribe them with a fun snack for the car ride home when it was time to leave and that was enough to get them to walk back to the car.
The Rio Brands Wonder Wheeler or the Tommy Bahama All Terrain Beach Cart are the two beach carts that I would highly recommend. They honestly are pretty much identical and go back and forth in price and availability!
If you really want/need a wagon to transport your KIDS then I recommend the Hauck Eco Wagon! It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features that other beach wagons has, but it handles the absolute best on sand compared to a lot of other wagons.
The only downside is that it doesn’t have seatbelts, so if you don’t trust your toddler to stay in the wagon, then make sure to check out my toddler beach wagon post for other options!
Mesh Beach Bag for Toys
A Mesh Beach Bag is perfect for things that get wet and sandy. It will dry quickly and the sand will brush right off. We store our beach toys in ours, as well as sandy water shoes.
The one I’ve linked to is backpack-style! You can even have your child wear it, depending on their age.
Toddler Beach Chairs
Before we went to the beach for the first time, I thought we could manage without beach chairs. One less thing to carry, right? I was so wrong, haha! My kids got sand allll over our beach blanket. They didn’t grasp the concept of don’t walk on it with your wet, sandy feet.
Then, when they ate lunch, they constantly were resting their hands between bites and their sandwiches were getting covered with sand. It was so gross!
We have these beach chairs, and they are adorable and a great size; my kids definitely won’t outgrow them anytime soon. They come with carrying bags, but since we have a beach cart, I just drop them in there.
If you have a young toddler, you might want to consider a sand-friendly high chair.
We used this high chair with our fourth baby. It was really nice to be able to contain him somewhere so we could all eat in peace.
This is another great travel high chair option! It is a new item that wasn’t available when my youngest was a toddler, but it looks like it has tons of nice features. It fits older toddlers (the one we had was pretty small) and has a canopy for sun protection.
Speaking of chairs, my husband and I have these beach chairs for ourselves and we absolutely love them. They are comfortable, durable, and have backpack straps to easily transport them
Beach Umbrella or Sun Tent
It is a good idea to have a beach tent or umbrella to give you some shade and privacy for diaper changes or hopefully a nap!
If you are lucky, you can get your young kids to lie down and take a nap! My toddlers were never great beach nappers because they were too excited to play, but my babies loved to nap on the beach.
I have an entire post dedicated to the best beach tents for babies, toddlers, and families that I definitely recommend checking out because your needs will vary based on your family situation.
If you prefer to use a beach umbrella instead of a tent, this one is perfect because it combines an umbrella with a tent, is super lightweight, and folds up into a carrying bag.
I absolutely love these beach towels!
You might be thinking what makes a beach towel so special? These dry SO FAST! We can use them multiple times within the same beach trip. We simply hang them over the back of a chair when they get wet and they dry insanely fast.
They also fold up incredibly small and I can easily fit all 6 inside of my bogg bag.
Bathing Suits with Rash Guard
I love that they make bathing suits with long-sleeved rash guards for kids. I don’t remember that being an option when I was a child and it makes it so much easier to protect our little ones’ skin from the sun.
Water Bottle or Sippy Cup
I like to use stainless steel water bottles with double wall insulation so that the water stays nice and cold and there’s no condensation. My kids have used these water bottles for years and we love them.
If your toddler doesn’t like to use a straw, these stainless steel sippy cups are a good option.
Don’t forget the sunscreen!! I have a list of my favorite reef-safe sunscreen you can check out if you need recommendations!
I like to use mineral sunscreen on my babies (6 months+) and toddlers. Mineral sunscreen can be a bit harder to apply than regular sunscreen, so I make the switch around 2.5/3 to regular sunscreen.
You don’t need any fancy beach toys. Children are perfectly content with a bucket and shovel and will entertain themselves playing in the sand for hours on end.
If you are going on a family beach trip and don’t want to pack sand toys, you can always buy a few of them when you arrive and then donate them to your beach rental. It’s an extra cost, but packing for a family trip is a lot of work and it might be worth it to have fewer things to pack.
These collapsable beach buckets are seriously amazing. They could easily fold up to fit in a suitcase! I love that they are so compact.
Do you like how I state that children just need a shovel and bucket and then list a bunch of beach toys? Haha! Sorry! You TRULY don’t need them all.
Keep in mind that we go to the beach multiple times per week and don’t take all of these toys with us every time.
Toddlers don’t look where they’re going so they need water shoes to protect their feet from rocks, shells, and HOT SAND. I love that these are a sneaker/water shoe hybrid. My kids are constantly running and these are perfect to go from parking lot to sand to water!
If your toddler isn’t potty trained, you will need swim diapers. If regular diapers get wet, they will explode. Don’t ask me whether or not I know this from experience… *face palm*
Keep in mind that swim diapers are meant to pretty much only hold poop, so don’t put it on them at your house or hotel room. Change them into it right when you get to the beach!
I watch my kids like a hawk when we are at the beach, especially my toddlers! I like to use a toddler swim vest or a puddle jumper for my toddlers to take them out into the ocean and let them float around a bit.
These by no means are a replacement for adult supervision!
While it isn’t crucial, it is a great idea to take a wet bag to put your toddler’s wet clothes in!
Change of Clothes
This is an item that is often forgotten and let me tell you, it is crucial! There is NOTHING worse than a toddler that is overtired, wet, sandy, and cranky…. other than a toddler that is overtired, wet, sandy, cranky, and FALLS ASLEEP IN THE CAR.
Bring a change of dry clothes and change them as you are leaving the beach.
Even if you do your best to cover your child with sunscreen, their scalp can burn easily. Prevent this by putting a sunhat on them. I prefer to get sunhats with a neck flap, as the back of the neck is one of the body parts most exposed to
Keep some cornstarch or baby powder (talc-free!) in your car. Just brush some over sandy body parts and the sand comes right off.
Inflatable Kiddie Pool
This is something I’ve never done, but I see it done at the beach quite a bit for babies or younger toddlers. Bring along an inflatable kiddie pool for your little one to splash around in.
I personally dig a hole in the sand and fill it with water, but some people prefer to take a pool!
Toddler Beach Essentials: Ultimate Beach Packing List
Screenshot this or print it off to help you pack for your next trip or family beach day!
- Swim diapers
- Change of clothes
- Wet bag
- Beach towels
- Beach blanket
- Beach chairs (for kids and adults)
- Beach toys
- Water shoes
- Cooler with food, cold drinks, and ice packs
- Corn starch for brushing sand off
- Puddle jumpers or swimmees
- Beach umbrella or sun tent
- Mesh bag for toys
- Beach bag for towels/sunscreen
- Beach cart
There you have it, the best beach essentials for toddlers! I hope this helps you to know what to bring to the beach with toddlers. I’ll update this list as we continue to go to the beach this summer. Feel free to reach out by email if you have any questions! I’d be happy to help. Happy Beach Days!