Essentials to Pack for a Toddler Beach Vacation

Are you gearing up for a beachside vacation or day trip? If so, you’ll need a different packing routine for your toddlers. Vacations are fun, but I have learned over the years that packing for a toddler is confusing. You’ll need very little to keep comfortable when they’re infants, but once they become toddlers, it’s a whole other ball game.

Essentials you need for a beach vacation include sunscreen, toys, hats, towels, floaties, swimsuits, and sandals. You’ll need to plan and head to the beach early to take advantage of all the resources. But most importantly, don’t forget to bring snacks and drinks for your toddler.

Unlike infants, toddlers are more demanding, and their list of beach essentials is expansive. Therefore, here are nine essential things to bring on a beach trip with a toddler.

1. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must-have at all ages to protect the skin against sunburn. According to Kids Health, sunscreen for toddlers prevents painful sunburns, which have been linked to serious conditions like skin cancer. Therefore, before you head to the beach, apply sunscreen on your toddler and carry an extra bottle for the beach. 

After all, you may need to reapply it once they start playing in the water. You can select between a mineral and chemical sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. It should also be baby friendly and approved for UVA and UVB ray protection.

Toddler seated on the beach wearing a hat

2. Beach Hats

Apart from sunscreen, you should also bring kids’ beach hats to provide extra protection from the sun and some shade. Their little heads are still sensitive to sun rays, and the hat will add a protection layer, covering the head, ears, and neck area. If you can find one with a chin strap, that’s even better because if your toddlers are anything like mine, the hat will disappear in no time.

3. Sunglasses

I enjoyed shopping for my daughters at the toddler stage. So, you know I was carrying all types of sunglasses for our beach trips. The small glasses are cute and fit the toddler’s face very well. However, you have to find sun-safe sunglasses so they can actually protect your baby’s eyes.

Remember, they might not always stay on, but it’s nice to have a pair or two for the beach. Toddler goggles are a good alternative if your baby loses sunglasses every five minutes.

4. Beach Towels

I forgot to bring a towel for our first beach trip, and boy, did I regret that rookie mistake. I struggled to find something to keep my babies warm after swimming or provide a comfy place to sit. Nowadays, towels are my priority when I’m packing.

Moreover, you should bring more than one beach towel to be on the safe side. Even when your child isn’t interested in swimming at the beach, the towels can offer shade, a snack mat, or protection from the sand. You can go for regular baby towels or hooded beach towels, which are more exciting for toddlers.

Toddler on the beach in a blue and pink swimsuit

5. Toddler Swimsuits

You can’t go to the beach and leave the swimsuits behind. In fact, whether you’re going on vacation or a daytime beach trip, you’ll need to pack at least two swimsuits for a fun beach day. Toddlers can be messy, but you’ll also need an additional swimsuit when they need to change from the wetsuit.

Alternatively, you can bring a toddler wetsuit to protect their fragile skin and a beach costume for lounging on the shore. There are many baby brands, meaning you won’t have difficulty finding sun-safe and child-friendly swimsuits.

6. Diapers or Nappies

If your toddler is not potty trained, you’ll definitely need to bring enough diapers for the day. There’s a wide range of swim diapers and reusable diapers that are perfect for the beach. However, don’t forget to carry a zip-lock bag for the soiled diapers so you’re not littering at the beach.

7. Floaties

Your toddler may have some swimming experience, but that doesn’t necessarily apply at the beach. I mean, it’s a large body of water, and floaties provide extra protection against the waves. So, whether your baby is an amateur or a little swimming pro, you’ll need floaties for the beach.

There are different floaties in the market, including swim floatation vests, inflatables, and puddle jumpers. The wearable floatation vest works best because your baby can’t lose it. However, puddle jumpers and inflatables are okay for older toddlers with more swimming experience.

Toddler beach toys

8. Toys

The beach is fun, but one thing I know, toddlers will always find a use for their toys. In fact, toddlers would rather spend time building sand castles, stacking sand in buckets, and “hunting” for treasure. So, your list of beach essentials should include various beach and sand toys like buckets, shovels, beach molds, watering cans, and balls.

Inflatable pools also come in handy at the beach if you’re not comfortable with the open water. Your toddlers will have fun right next to you as you relax. I believe in diversifying beach activities, so believe it or not, I bring activity books to the beach.

If we spend the whole day at the beach, we’ll take some time to learn fun beach vocabulary and complete beach-related tasks. It is so much fun!

9. Snacks and Drinks

Snacks and drinks are definitely a number one essential for a beach day. You already know when a baby is hungry, tantrums and chaos will erupt, and beach day turns into a catastrophe. Furthermore, all the running around and heat will leave the babies dehydrated and needing their favorite drinks.

You should pack various fruits, drinks, and snacks to keep your toddlers fed and happy. Usually, I’ll pack raspberries, yogurt, apples, sandwiches, chips, fruit salads, brownies, tacos, and lots of water.

Granted, the babies might not finish all the snacks, but it’s better to over-pack than under-pack. In addition, you can invest in a small cooler or insulated bag to keep the food cool or warm.

These essentials have always worked for our beach trips. However, as the girls got older, I involved them in packing so they could include all their toys, activity books, and snacks. The beach is fun, but you must plan and pack in advance, diversify the activities, and follow your baby’s lead.

Moreover, always spare time for downtime to relax and soak in the beauty. Lastly, don’t forget to keep the toddlers hydrated and sun-protected.

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