I recently took the kids on a spontaneous trip to the beach to kill some time while AJ played in a golf tournament. Luckily we are only a half hour from one of our favorite beaches and we love taking the kids out for a few hours whenever we can. Living in Northern California, you never really know what the weather will be like on the coast but more often than not, it’s foggy, windy, and chilly. We lucked out this weekend with clear skies and minimal wind!
Since it was such a last minute decision, I wasn’t necessarily prepared for a beach day with toddlers. But I figured why not pack up some towels, snacks, sunscreen, and head out! While I didn’t have any beach toys or shade, we still had a ton of fun! The kids loved running around, playing in the sand, and watching for whales.
On the drive back into town, I started thinking about all sorts of different things that make beach trips with the kids easier and actually enjoyable for parents. That’s what inspired me to make this list! I’ve thought about every trip we’ve taken out to the beach with the kids and figured out what worked best for making it a fun experience with toddlers!
What are your tips for taking little ones to the beach? Share them in the comments below!
Extra sunscreen never hurts! I love having the Babyganics spray and the Alba spray on hand at all times for the kids. I usually lather them up as we are getting out of the car and then a few more times during our time at the beach. I prefer the spray sunscreen for reapplications just out of convenience. Especially when the kids are sandy and on the move, the spray for their bodies and the stick make reapplying super easy!
Going out early in the day helps to not only beat the crowds but also makes it so nap time is the drive home!
Bring a few big towels:
Having large towels to scoop up wet and sandy toddlers is a must! They are cozy and warm for when they’re coming out of the water and also make for an easy way to keep all the sand contained when you get back to the car. I really like these blanket/towels for the perfect sand-free clean up!
Bring an All Weather Blanket:
My mom found a blanket at Costco back when my brothers were first starting baseball that was awesome for when we wanted to stay protected from the elements. The same style blanket is perfect for the beach! One side can protect from the sand and the other is cozy for kids. It’s the perfect way to have a designated spot and for setting up your area! This one from Amazon is awesome!
Grab a Wagon:
Not only is it tough to chase after toddlers at the beach, but hauling all the stuff out to your spot is also a pain. Grab a wagon for some easy assistance when carting all the stuff out! We have this one and love it!
A ball, some scoops and shovels, and a bucket is all you really need! We never bring any toys with us since we figure the ocean and sand will be enough, but sometimes its nice to have a few things on hand just in case the kids need a little more to entertain them!
Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks:
I always over pack on snacks and I never regret it! Even if they aren’t eating all of them when we are out there, they almost always ask for snacks on the drive home. Having enough for both you and the kids is essential! Try to find some that are easy to deal with in the sand. I like to grab applesauce pouches and smaller sized bags of goldfish or cheese-its.
We love these water bottles since they can be tightly closed to avoid any sand getting in. We also leave a few frozen ones in the car so that by the time we are heading out, we have cold water for the drive home!
Baby Wipes & Baby Powder:
These are always helpful for getting rid of extra sand that inevitably collects as you make your way back to the car.
Small bills… a lot of beaches charge a parking fee and most only accept cash. Plus its great to have if you need any extra snacks or drinks!
Be sure to grab an extra set of clothes for both you and the kids! Leave them in the car so they stay clean and sand-free for when you’re ready to leave.
Umbrella or Tent:
We used to always bring out a sunshade, umbrella, or wind tent when the kids were smaller. It was helpful to give them a little retreat to go to when they needed a break from the sun, wind, or just to relax a bit.
Hats & Sunglasses:
The sun is always brighter at the beach! So always make sure to pack some hats and sunglasses to protect the little ones from the sun’s harsh rays.
Swim Suits & Rash-Guards:
You’re at the beach, you’re probably going to get in the water. I love having the kids in rash-guards because they keep the kids protected from the sun and I don’t have to worry about any sand rashes that may occur.
The perfect way to keep all your food and drinks cool! Find one with a zipper to avoid getting any sand thrown in by accident!
Northern California beaches are cold and windy the majority of the year, so adding a sweatshirt or windbreaker to your bag for the kids can make a huge difference in making your trip enjoyable.
Expect They’ll Need a Potty Break:
Swim diapers are great for un-potty-trained little ones, but know that they are really only meant to contain poops so some pee might escape while they’re running around. I have a small portable potty in the car from potty training so that most definitely comes in handy for emergencies for the kids when we are at the beach!
Bring a few garbage bags so you can clean up all the garbage and trash that you may leave behind. I also bring one for trash and another for sandy and wet clothes and towels!
Recruit a Friend:
Bring a friend or family member along to help wrangle the crazy toddlers. Trust me.
Expect a Mess and Chaos:
Anticipating the mess and inevitable meltdowns will help you feel a little more in control when they do come up. It’ll help you feel less stressed about the whole experience and actually enjoy yourself!
Check weather, wind warnings, and prep ahead of time. You’ll know what the weather is like and you’ll be more prepared for how the day with go and what you should wear or bring along with you. If you can prep everything you’ll need ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.