Pack Smart: Must-Have Beach Essentials for Toddlers

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Getting ready for a beach day with toddlers? I’ve been there!

I’ve learned a thing or two about packing for our beach adventures with a couple of energetic little ones who can’t get enough of the beach.

In this post, I’m excited to share with you the beach essentials that have saved the day, time and time again for us. These aren’t just any items; they result from plenty of sunny trials and a few sandy errors. 

Make sure you stick around till the end, because I’m going to give you the ultimate beach packing list. With this list, your next family trip to the beach will be as effortless as the sea breeze!

Sun Protection and Safety


Sun protection is paramount when you’re at the beach with your little ones. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to protect them from sunburn.

A day of fun can quickly turn into a week of discomfort. We want their memories filled with smiles, not ouchies, right? 🏖️😎

A toddler sits at the water's edge on a pebble-covered shoreline, clad in a blue UV protection rashguard and hat with the word 'SWIM' across the front, playing with pebbles, illustrating a vital beach essential for toddlers. Pin

High SPF Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an essential product, especially for small children and toddlers whose skin is very delicate. 

I always choose sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher because playing in the sand and water means a lot of sun exposure. I prefer mineral sunscreen for my kids, and I recommend Blue Lizard Baby mineral sunscreen.

It is important to reapply sunscreen every hour, even if it is water-resistant. Check the sunscreen label for instructions. Water-resistant sunscreen can be effective for up to 40 or 80 minutes when swimming.

So make sure to apply it generously to your little one’s skin and protect them as much as possible.  It’s non-negotiable!

Sun Protection for the Tiniest Toes

Now, for babies under six months, can they use sunscreen? Well, the answer is a little bit of yes and no.

The American Academy of Pediatrics typically suggests keeping infants out of direct sunlight as much as possible. When that’s not feasible, a teeny tiny dab of sunscreen on those exposed areas can be a real skin-saver.

A baby dozes off on a sunny day in a blue floatie with a protective sun canopy, gently floating on the crystal clear waters of a beach, a tranquil moment highlighting the importance of a safe floatation device as a beach essential for toddlers. Pin
Theo, 4 months old, taking a nap in Sardinia

Just be sure to use it sparingly and opt for a formula specially designed for sensitive skin. Remember, physical barriers like UV clothing and hats are your best bet.

Sun Hat

Pack a wide-brimmed sun hat that will protect your child’s face and often-overlooked ears from the sun.

Choose one with a chin strap (because we know how “cooperative” our munchkins can be) to keep it securely on their head.
Make sure the hat is UPF-rated to block harmful rays.

And if you can, grab one made of quick-drying fabric. Because let’s face it, that hat is bound to take an unexpected swim in the ocean more than once.

A hat that’s quick-dry and easily foldable? Now, that’s a winner in my book. 

Sunglasses

I always pick sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection; trust me, it’s like sunscreen for their eyes!

Opt for a pair with rubber frames and a strap, nearly indestructible, and they actually stay on.

A baby dressed in a blue 'SWIM' rashguard and brown hat, wearing stylish blue sunglasses, comfortably sits on a sandy beach, surrounded by beach essentials for toddlers, under the watchful eye of an adult with red nail polish. Pin

We want the kids to be amazed by the shimmering ocean, not be blinded by it, right?

Lightweight, Long-Sleeve Rash Guard

Have you ever seen a little one chafing from their day in the sea and thought, “Well, that’s not gonna happen to my kid!”

That’s where a long-sleeve rash guard comes into play. I’m not just talking about any old swimtop here – I mean a lightweight, quick-drying guardian that’s as comfy as it is functional, perfect for protecting baby’s skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

How about a rash guard with UPF 50+ to ensure the sun doesn’t end with the fun? Because, really, who wants to interrupt those precious beach moments for a round of aloe vera? 

A toddler in a red UV protection rashguard and navy hat is captivated by the shallow beach waters, with outstretched hands touching the gentle waves, illustrating the essential sun-safe beachwear for toddlers. Pin

For mom, I love this lightweight cardigan that can also be a coverup.

Flotation Devices

Let’s talk about finding the right flotation device. We’re looking for one that is Coast Guard-approved – this isn’t just a suggestion; it’s a must!

Choose a puddle jumper like this one.

A toddler in a life jacket enjoys the clear blue waters of the sea, held securely by an adult, with other swimmers and boats in the background, highlighting the importance of a life jacket as a beach essential for toddlers. Pin

Bonus points if it’s got a fun design. Your kid will be begging to put it on, making your life much easier, right?

Lip Balm with SPF

Don’t forget the lip balm with SPF for the beach! Those little lips need protection too, and it’s an easy step to overlook.

Swim and Beachwear


Swimsuits

Swimsuits with built-in sun protection are essential for any beach trip with your toddler.

You want to look for something comfortable enough for your kid to run around and build sandcastles without a problem. 

And don’t forget, packing a second suit is a total lifesaver. Because nobody wants to wiggle back into a sandy, wet swimsuit after a snack break, right?

Beach Shoes

Do we really need beach shoes for our toddlers? Absolutely!

We’ve all done that sizzling hot sand dance, haven’t we? We don’t want our little ones to go through that.

So, pick up a pair of water shoes to protect those little toes from scorching sand, sharp shells, and sneaky stones. 

Ensure they fit snugly and comfortably without slipping off or washing away with each step.

Cover-Up or Robe

Nothing beats wrapping your little one in cozy cover ups or robes after they’ve splashed around.

Two toddlers on a picnic blanket at the beach, one wrapped in a colorful towel and the other wearing a hooded striped robe, with a stroller in the background, showcasing comfy after-swim essentials for toddlers. Pin

Choose a soft, snuggly robe that’s easy to slip on and off. And opt for a robe with a hood to keep water drops away from their neck and back.

Hygiene and Care


Reusable Swim Diapers

Look for one with a snug, yet comfy, elastic around the waist and thighs, and aim for reusable ones, friends. They’re not just eco-friendly but also easy on the wallet.

Let’s keep the ocean clean, our adventures epic, and the memories spotless.

Baby Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

Baby wipes and hand sanitizer are an absolute must! I mean, we’ve all been there, right? When your toddler has had their fill of yummy crackers, suddenly those sticky fingers are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

But fear not, just grab a wipe, give their hands and face a gentle scrub, and voilà! They’re good to go.

And let’s not forget the hand sanitizer, especially when water and soap are nowhere in sight.

Travel Potty

No worries about potty training at the beach! A portable potty is your new BFF. Set it up discreetly near the car or behind a beach tent for privacy and convenience.

Wet/Dry Bags

We’ve realized that having a wet/dry bag is essential for our beach trips. 

These little bags are incredibly handy for keeping our wet and dry clothes separate, ensuring our beach bag stays mess-free.

Extra Clothes

Remember always to pack a couple of extra changes of clothes in case you need them! And don’t forget to pack extra regular diapers as well.

Shade and Comfort

UV-Protective Beach Tent

A UV-protective beach tent has been a game-changer in our family beach adventures.

A toddler naps peacefully inside a portable UV-protective beach tent on a busy sandy beach, exemplifying a crucial beach essential for toddlers' safety and comfort during sunny days. Pin

Look for one that’s super easy to pop open and fold down because, let’s face it, we’ve got sandcastles to build and shells to collect and no time for battling with beach gear.

And let’s not forget the importance of built-in UV protection to protect our little ones from the sun’s rays.

Beach Umbrella

Carrying a beach umbrella can be a brilliant choice if you have the space. It provides much-needed shade and shelter from the sun.

If you’re short on space or traveling internationally, consider renting one instead. 

Of course, protecting your kids from the sun’s rays is absolutely crucial. So, be sure to keep them safe and shielded.

Portable Beach Fan

A small, battery-operated fan can be a lifesaver on particularly hot days. This one can also be attached to a stroller and offers the possibility of USB or battery-powered.

Sand-Free Beach Mat

Have you ever tried a sand beach mat? If not, it’s time to consider getting one!

This sand-free mat is designed to repel sand, so you can say goodbye to the hassle of sand sticking to everything. No more dealing with sandy car rides or the mess of using beach towels as mats.

These mats are available in different sizes, are compact and lightweight, and won’t take up much space, making them perfect for beach trips.

Nap Time Essentials

Bring everything they usually sleep with to ensure your little one has a comfy nap time.

A mother in a vibrant swimsuit tenderly cradles her baby on a blue beach chair, with sandy toes and a gentle expression. To the side, a minimalist diaper bag rests on the sand, its practical design and compact form blending seamlessly into the relaxed beach day setting. Pin

For example, don’t forget their pacifier or blanket, and find a nice spot for them to rest, like a beach tent or a shaded area.

Beach Towels

When planning your beach trips, don’t forget to pack microfiber towels! They’re great – compact, absorbent, and quick-drying.

For an extra touch of cozy chic, why not try Turkish towels? They’re lightweight, stylish, and perfect for picnics.

Food and Hydration


Let’s not forget the most important part: snacks and water! You can’t leave home without them! Keep everyone hydrated with plenty of water, and bring plenty of snacks and your kids favorite treats.

Snacks

When it comes to snack time, think finger foods that are as refreshing as they are tasty. Our favorite snacks to take to the beach are:

  • Fruit Slices or Cubes: Watermelon, grapes (cut in half to prevent choking), apple slices, and berries are refreshing and hydrating. Consider freezing them for an extra cooling treat.
  • Cheese Sticks or Cubes: Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, and it’s easy for little hands to hold. Opt for individual packets to keep them fresh.
  • Mini Sandwiches: Peanut butter and jelly or cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, cut into fun shapes or just halves.
  • Rice Cakes or Puffed Rice Snacks: These are light and less likely to cause a mess.
  • Vegetable Sticks with Hummus: Carrot, cucumber, and bell pepper sticks are nutritious and can be very refreshing, especially when paired with a small container of hummus.
  • Yogurt Tubes or Pouches: Frozen yogurt tubes can double as a cool snack and help soothe sore gums for teething toddlers.
  • Dry Cereal or Granola Bars: Choose whole-grain options or bars that are low in sugar and easy to eat without too much mess.
  • Snack Mix: Make a toddler-friendly trail mix with dried fruit, small pretzel twists, and whole-grain cereal. Avoid nuts due to choking hazards for younger toddlers.
  • Boiled Eggs: A great source of protein, boiled eggs can be a filling snack. Keep them in a cooler until ready to eat.
  • Crackers with Spread: Whole-grain crackers with spreads like almond butter or a light layer of cream cheese are both great ideas.

Insulated Water Bottles

It’s super important to ensure your little munchkin stays hydrated under the sun, so bring a reusable water bottle.

Fill it with fresh water from home, where you know it’s clean and cool. If your baby needs it, bring a sippy cup as well.

Don’t forget to offer your kids water or juice every few hours. They get so caught up in the fun that they can easily forget to drink and stay hydrated.

Insulated Cooler Bag

If you plan to bring snacks and drinks, an insulated cooler bag would be a fantastic addition! It’ll keep your refreshments cool and ready to enjoy.

We always toss a couple of ice packs among the juice boxes and cheese strings right before we hit the road. That way, when we plant our umbrellas in the sand, they’re almost as frosty as if they’d just come out of the fridge.

Entertainment and Leisure


Beach Toys

You don’t need to bring the whole playroom, but a few chosen sand toys, including buckets and spades, can be the key to seaside serenity and building sand castles.

A toddler in a navy blue hat and UV protective swimwear plays with a bucket and sand toys on a pristine beach, with a sun lounger, tropical palm, and a luxury yacht in the background, epitomizing beach essentials for toddlers. Pin

Pack a couple of buckets and spades – they’re the classics for a reason, right?

We use travel-friendly silicon toys that fold nicely and compactly so you can easily slip them into your beach bag. No more wrestling with bulky plastic shovels that refuse to fit.

Inflatable Pool

For the little ones in our lives, an inflatable pool becomes their special VIP lounge and play area.

It’s a safe and super fun place where they can splash, giggle, and play while being closely watched.

Alternatively, a Beach Tent with a Built-In Pool can also be great for your little ones.

Waterproof Camera

Capture precious moments with your little explorer’s perspective! It’s a great way to have a good time.

If your kid is not so little, hand them a waterproof camera and let them document their beach adventure. From seashells to squished-up faces, experience the world through their eyes.

End the day with giggles as you scroll through their sandy tales.

wo toddlers engaging in play on a sandy beach with essential toys, including a blue bucket and pink shovel, with a backdrop of lush greenery and a macrame swing at dusk, highlighting beach essentials for toddlers. Pin

Transportation and Storage


Beach Wagon or Stroller

We don’t have a beach wagon because we usually travel abroad for beach trips and don’t have the space to bring one along!

But let me tell you, I always see families with beach wagons and I can’t help but wish I had one too. They are just so convenient and practical!

I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to grab one. This one seems to have the best reviews, check it out!

Baby Carrier

Bringing a baby carrier is always a smart move!

It frees up our hands to take care of other things while our little one rests comfortably by our side.

Just make sure to have it with you if you have a baby or small toddler who still enjoys being in it.

Beach Bag

We need a bag that’s spacious enough to carry all our essentials.

Personally, I prefer a mesh beach bag to prevent sand from accumulating, and it would be great if it had plenty of pockets for better organization!

Plastic Bags

Don’t forget to pack some plastic bags – they’re super handy for dirty diapers and trash. And make sure to bring them back or leave them in the appropriate places.

Let’s all do our part to keep our beaches clean!

Health and Safety Extras


First Aid Kit

You can’t predict everything that’ll happen at the beach, but we can certainly be prepared for those little hiccups along the way. 

So, let’s add a first aid kit to our beach must-haves for toddlers.

Our kits come stocked with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and some soothing aloe vera gel for those accidental sunburns (even though we know we applied sunscreen).

And remember, it’s not just for the kids. We’ve all stubbed our toe on a pesky driftwood or gotten a sneaky splinter from the boardwalk.

Natural Insect Repellent

A natural insect repellent is a must for beach days or outdoor fun. It keeps bugs away, so your little one can play without bites. 

Plus, it’s kind to their skin and the planet, since you’re skipping the harsh chemicals.

Identification Bracelet

An ID bracelet for your kid is key for trips. If they get lost, it has your contact info. It’s an easy step for their safety and your peace of mind, especially in crowded places.

A family portrait on a boat, with a toddler and a baby both wearing sunglasses and sun-protective clothing, embraced by their smiling parents against a stunning backdrop of turquoise waters and moored sailboats, capturing the essence of beach essentials for toddlers. Pin

Convenience and Beach Hacks


Baby Powder

Did you know that baby powder can work wonders at the beach? Just sprinkle a little on sandy hands and feet, and watch the sand effortlessly slide right off.

Sunscreen Reminder Timer

Set a timer on your phone to remind you to regularly reapply sunscreen on your toddler.

Pre-Freeze Drink Boxes

Freeze juice boxes or water pouches overnight. They’ll serve as ice packs in your cooler and thaw to a refreshing slushy when your toddler is ready to drink.

DIY Beach Toy Wash Station

Bring a small inflatable pool and fill it with water for a quick rinse of sandy toys before packing up.

Mesh Laundry Bag for Toys

Pack your toddler’s beach toys in a mesh laundry bag. It’s easy to carry, and you can shake out the sand before heading back.

Spray Bottles for Cool Down

Fill a spray bottle with water for a quick, refreshing spritz. It’s a fun way to keep cool and entertained.

Frozen Aloe Vera Cubes

Prepare aloe vera cubes in an ice tray and freeze them before your trip. They’re a soothing remedy for accidental sunburns and are a cool treat on a hot day.

Wrapping up and ensuring your toddler is well-equipped for a beach day is more than just packing snacks and swimwear.

With our curated list of beach essentials for toddlers, we’ve taken the guesswork out of your beach day prep, focusing on protection, convenience, and fun. Every item is a step towards a perfect beach day, from sun-safe gear to engaging beach toys.

TRAVEL RESOURCES

✈️ Buy flight tickets in advance

Always buy flight tickets in advance! The place to find the best prices for flight tickets is Skyscanner.com

🏠 Book your accommodation

Booking.com is easy to use and has many options and filters you can use to book in advance and check availability.

🚙 Renting a Car

I recommend Discover Cars because they always have the best rates and great customer service.

🎡 Plan tours and activities

Viator is an excellent place to start looking for activities. They provide a huge selection and great prices.

Photo of author

Astrid Chacon

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