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We’ve been to the beach multiple times since we’ve had kids, and we’ve been underprepared, over prepared, and most recently, simply prepared. The first time I way under packed, and we lasted about 30 minutes! Since then, I’ve been able to see what has been super helpful to have on hand for a family beach vacation and what we didn’t really use.
What to Pack for Your Trip to the Beach with a Toddler and Preschooler
Below you’ll find some of my favorite items to pack along with some helpful tips when heading on your family beach vacation with a toddler and preschooler.
What to Wear – Kids
- Sunscreen – It’s helpful to apply sunscreen ahead of time, and then reapply throughout the day.
- Bug spray
- Swim shoes – The sand can be hot when walking from the parking lot, and of course, there may be sharp shells and trash.
- Swim diapers – This brand is great because of the easy-open sides. It makes them adjustable and easier to change. Don’t forget to pack extras.
- Rash guard swimsuit – If you’re planning on spending a full day in the sun, this type of swim top can really help decrease sun exposure.
- Puddle Jumper – Puddle Jumpers and life jackets are especially important in or near water.
- Hair ties – If your little one has long hair, having multiple hair ties on hand can be helpful. Our preschooler lost her hair tie in the water in the first ten minutes we were there.
Other Stuff to Bring
- Beach toys – A simple pail and shovel can provide hours of entertainment.
- Large mesh laundry bag – This is one of my favorite things to have on hand. We put all of the sandy toys in the bag and then rinsed them and the bag on our way out. All of the rinsed toys went back in the bag and air dried on the way to car.
- Dry Bag – Dry bags are great to have at the beach. We keep our keys, wallet, and phones in one.
- Water – Bring plenty of bottled water and cups to keep everyone hydrated.
- Snacks – My kids’ favorite snacks at the beach are the applesauce pouches.
- Trash bag – We used a plastic grocery bag for trash and tossed it on our way out.
- Kids’ armchairs – We got these chairs at Academy for $4.99, and the kids love them. They come in six different colors.
- Soft clip-on fans – We clipped these fans onto their chairs. They also come in multiple colors.
- Beach tent – Beach tents can be really great to have for long days in the sun. We saw a lot of people with this type of shade at the beach, and it looks like a great option. Note: Some beaches have rules regarding the size of shade allowed and limitations on where you can place it, so it may be helpful to look online or call ahead to check before you go.
- Beach towels
- Beach mat
- Beach bag – These bags are super cute, and I love that there are pockets on the sides for the kids’ cups. I used this one for my husband’s and my stuff and this one for our daughters’ stuff.
- Beach chairs – To be honest, we didn’t use these a whole lot because we were too busy playing in the water and sand with the kids. But, they can be great to have on hand if you are planning on being there for more than an hour or two.
- Beach wagon or cart – A beach wagon or cart can be a great way to transport everything from the car to the beach. You’ll want to make sure that it has wheels that work well in the sand.
- Change of clothes for everyone – This is especially helpful if you are driving back to a hotel.
- Our favorite time of day to go to the beach is when it opens in the morning. It’s less crowded and not as hot.
- During this stage of having a preschooler and a toddler, we’ve found that staying one to two hours is just the right amount of time before heading inside for a break from the heat and sun. Toddlers burn more easily than adults and get tired from being in the sun much faster.
- Check to see that the beach has rinse-off showers near the exit. I thought all beaches had these until we went to one without them. To get to the showers, we had to walk a long way through the sand and up a bunch of stairs, which was not ideal with tired kids. So, we opted for a sandy trip back to the hotel, which was a big mess. The next day, we headed to a different beach with convenient rinse-off showers near the parking lot, and there were even changing stalls. I will always check for this before heading to a beach in the future.
- Take pictures! Don’t forget to capture lots of fun moments and memories along the way.
What are your favorite things to pack for a trip to the beach with young kids?
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