What to Bring to the Beach with a Toddler (or toddler twins!)
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 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 chair, towel, sunscreen, 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 plan on taking them during the week on my own, and it hit me… with three small children, I need to be prepared and I had no idea what I need to have a successful beach trip!
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Luckily, my mom had plenty of experience doing just that, and she was a wealth of information. I also asked some of my friends for help and set about researching what I need for a beach trip with toddlers.
Must Have Beach Items For Toddlers
Now, if you are traveling for a beach vacation, it’s not possible to take all of these things. We have a beach 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 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. Beach carts are the way to go and I remember my mom using them when I was a child. The wheels are specifically designed to pull on the sand easier than a stroller or a wagon.
This is the cart that I purchased. I love that it has a cooler for our lunch, and a mesh bottom so that the sand will fall right out instead of collecting and dumping out in my van. It’s super easy to fold up and has more than enough space for all of our stuff.
It’s currently out of stock, so I have linked the Rio Beach Cart that looks exactly the same.
You don’t need a beach cart AND a beach wagon. Basically, a beach cart is only for carrying items, while a wagon can carry beach supplies and children. If you have younger toddlers, you might want to consider a wagon. Make sure when you are purchasing a wagon that it is specifically for children. If it says utility wagon, it’s not meant for children!
This Radio Flyer Wagon has fantastic reviews. It’s collapsible and the reviews say that the all-terrain wheels go over sand really well. Personally, I didn’t purchase a wagon because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit all 3 of my kids, PLUS our stuff into it. I also knew whoever didn’t get to ride in the wagon would be mad, so to keep things simple, I went with a beach cart instead of a wagon.
Mesh Beach Bag
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 have your child wear, depending on their age.
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! I also decided I need to take a chair for myself so that I can sit somewhere out of the sand.
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.
My husband and I have chairs very similar to these. They are very comfortable, and have backpack straps. We love them!
Beach Umbrella or Sun Tent
You will want something to give you some shade. If you are lucky, you can get your toddlers to lie down and take a nap! Most of our beach trips are only a few hours long, in which case, we don’t worry about shade. However, for longer beach trips, we definitely use one.
This umbrella is perfect because it combines an umbrella with a tent, is super lightweight, and folds up into a carrying bag. You don’t need a baby beach tent. In my opinion, it’s best to buy something that’s big enough for adults, instead of a kids beach tent. That way, everyone can fit inside!
Don’t forget the sunscreen!! I’m planning to do a list of my favorite sunscreens, but for now… the Thinkbaby is my favorite.
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.
Toddlers don’t look where they’re going so they need water shoes to protect their feet from rocks, shells, etc. 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!
Puddle jumpers are excellent life jackets. Just make sure that your child meeds the weight requirements.
Even if you do your best to cover your child with sunscreen, their scalp can burn easily. Prevent this by putting a sun hat on them.
Keep some corn starch 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 the pool!
Beach Packing List
It’s on my list to make a printable version of this for you guys! Someone remind me and I will do it 😉
- Swim diapers
- Beach blanket
- Beach chairs (for kids and adults)
- Beach toys
- Water shoes
- Cooler with food and cold drinks
- 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! 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!