My husband recently sprung a trip to the beach on our family and we didn’t know until we were in the car where we were going! We definitely didn’t have everything we needed for a perfect day trip to the beach with babies and toddlers in tow. That’s why I’m excited to share this guest post from Jenny with a checklist of what to pack for a day at the beach with kids! Now I’ll know for next time, should my husband actually give forewarning! Thankfully, we had an amazing anyway:
We were solidly in the summer slump. That point of the season where the newness of the hot, lazy days had worn off and the boredom of unscheduled afternoons had everyone crawling the walls.
If my kids weren’t fighting, they were splayed dramatically across the living room couch whining (loudly) about their lack of activity. I was reaching my capacity for patience.
All I wanted was to grab my book and sit on the porch and read in peace for hours, but I knew there wasn’t even a hint of a chance of that happening.
As the kids’ whining once again turned to bickering, I immediately decided to mix it up. We needed to get out. We needed to get exercise. We needed to do something, and it needed to be big.
“Get into the car, kids. We’re heading to the beach!” I announced. They looked at me confused, but when they realized I was serious, they darted to the garage. I quickly packed up and followed suit.
Immediately, our day turned around. The kids stopped arguing and played enthusiastically together all day. My energy spiked.
My mood lifted.
We laughed and made memories, and I went from wanting nothing more than to escape my kids to genuinely enjoying my time with them. It was like a miracle had happened – all because we simply left the house and changed our scenery to beat the summer blahs.
It’s amazing how one change – one simple change – can have such a profound effect. If you’ve ever found yourself in danger of losing your sanity in the middle of a slow, hot summer day, do something different. Do something spontaneous. Do something unexpected.
One of my favorite activities during the summer is going to the beach with my kids – and since that day, we’ve done it a LOT.
It doesn’t even have to be blazing hot to plan a beach outing; we find that there’s always something fun to do at the beach. Between the sand and the rocks and the driftwood, the beach is different every time we go, with new places to explore each time.
But I’ve also learned the hard way that it can be a bit of a pain if I’m not well-prepared.
My son tends to run off and put his toes in the water, but hates putting his sandy feet back into his shoes. My daughter prefers to hang out closer to our base camp, but starts asking for snacks within five minutes of arriving.
Let’s just say that more than one beach outing has gone sideways thanks to my lack of preparation. I’m here to help you learn from my mistakes. Now, every time our family goes to the beach, here’s what we pack to make it a fun and successful trip.
10 Things to Pack for a Day at the Beach with Kids
1. Pack Sand Toys
What’s a trip to the beach without buckets and shovels?
Up your game by bringing along a sand sifter for finding buried treasure and sand castle molds for building your very own palace. Bonus points if you bring a little floating tug boat so the kids can create a moat from your blanket to the waves and try to float it down.
2. Pack Sunscreen for the Beach
Even if the sun isn’t out, it can still cause serious burns.
Always bring sunscreen and apply it liberally and regularly – at least once every hour and a half. If you’re worried about buying brands with dangerous chemicals, I have an in-depth guide on sun protection for kids.
3. Bring a Cooler Stocked with Food and Drinks
Whether you’re heading out over the lunch hour or not, babies and toddlers are going to get hungry – and overheated. Pack a large cooler full of snacks and drinks to keep you all happy and hydrated for the duration of the outing.
4. Grab a Frisbee
Sometimes older kids can get a bit bored with just digging in the sand or splashing in the water. Grab a frisbee so they can play a pick-up game with friends.
5. Bring a Beach Tent
It’s more compact to carry, shelters you from the sun, wind, sand blowing from three different directions, and is less likely to be blown away in the breeze because it’s easier to anchor. Interested in buying one? I wrote a whole guide to finding a safe and sturdy beach tent here.
6. Pack Beach Towels
Beach towels can be used in so many ways; it’s a good idea to have several even if you don’t plan to swim.
Use them to dry off, lay out, as a picnic blanket, or even a sunshade for your little one. Best of all, you can put them on the seat when you drive home to keep your car from getting all wet and sandy.
7. Bring Change of Clothes for your kids
Kids are going to get wet and dirty at the beach. Come prepared with an extra set of clothes (including shoes) to keep them comfy. Maybe pack some for yourself too.
8. Bring a Kite
This is the one thing I forget to bring all the time. Kites are so fun, but it can be hard to find a good place to fly them. The beach is perfect with its wide open spaces and reliable breeze.
9. Pack Some Baby Powder for Sand Removal
Do you have a giant container of baby powder left over from the baby days that you never quite figured out what to do with? Me, too.
Turns out you can rub it on your kids’ wet & sticky sand-covered feet, and it will clean them off and dry them up, allowing them to put their shoes back on at the end of your beach day drama-free.
10. Bring a Collapsible Wagon
You’ve got a million things to carry (including children), so trust me when I say a collapsible wagon is the way to go. Throw everything in there – even the baby – and save your arms and back as you trek down toward the water. I just keep this in my trunk all the time because it’s useful for WAY more than just the beach.
With a little planning and preparation, your beach outing is bound to be a rousing success. Pack toys for the kids, protection from the sun, food to keep everyone happy, throw it all into an easy-to-pull wagon, and head out to beat the summer blahs. And toss a book for yourself into the beach bag – because, with the kids so well-entertained, you might finally get a chance to relax, too.
Jenny is a mother of two, a coffee addict and a lover of the great outdoors. When she isn’t trying to get her kids off their screens and out in the yard, you can find her blogging about her motherhood experiences at Mom Loves Best, or trying to Pin the entire Internet on Pinterest.
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