Visiting a beach with your kids is fun, but you need to be organized and careful when taking your toddler with you. You wouldn’t want to spoil your beach visit just because you missed something essential that your toddler required.
I have visited beaches with my twin toddlers several times, and I recommend every mom of a toddler create a list of the items you want to keep handy while at the beach. Below you will find my recommendations of things to take to the beach with a toddler, including the essentials and things that are optional.
Please note, there are affiliate links in this post. Read my privacy & disclosure policy at the bottom of this page to learn more.
Unfortunately, going to the beach with a toddler does require some extra items that you wouldn’t necessarily need otherwise. If you are just talking about the bare essentials expect to pack about 14 items for your day.
Pack all the essential things to take to the beach with a toddler first. Then, if you have more space you can pack some of the nice to have items if you want.
Here are the must have things to take to the beach with your toddler. This is a list of the absolute bare essentials in order to have a fun beach day.
While on the beach you will stay under the direct sunlight for many hours. If you don’t put on sunscreen, you’ll get sunburns (red, hot, and itchy skin).
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that everyone should use sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays) SPF 30 or higher, and it should be water-resistant.
You will need sunscreen made for adults and one made for kids. A good option is a mineral-based sunscreen that doesn’t contain parabens or perfumes and has SPF higher than 30.
For girls, I highly recommend two piece bathing suits because it’s so much easier for going to the bathroom and diaper changes. If you want, you can get cute cover-ups, but if you do opt for a bathing suit with a rashguard top, these are not necessary.
Personally, I found Crocs (or similar shoe) to be perfect for toddlers to wear to the beach. Or, you can opt for toddler flip-flops. Basically, a lightweight shoe is best because they make it easier to walk on the sand.
It’s one of my favorite pastimes to eat sandwiches at the beach in the summer. You will need a cooler to keep those sandwiches and various snacks cold!
Make sure to stock it with plenty of snacks too. Kids eat A LOT when they’re at the beach! Some simple, healthy ideas for food in your cooler include fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks, and sandwiches that contain protein like chicken or eggs.
Towels are an essential part of the list when you are packing for a beach visit. They are used for multiple purposes like drying off after a swim, wiping sand from the body, privacy while changing clothes, and providing a surface to lay or sit on.
Beach towels are usually larger than regular bath towels, so they can easily wrap around the body or be laid on. A tip on beach towels – Turkish towels are awesome!
They are lightweight, soft, easy to fold, and repel sand and stains. Plus, they absorb moisture quickly. They are perfect for a beach day.
5 – Floaties
It is impossible to keep your toddler in one place when you are at the beach. Little ones don’t understand the danger of water and don’t know how to swim. Having floaties for them is a good idea.
Even though your toddler is not going to swim on his own in the seawater, you must make sure he wears floaties to be on the safe side. It will give you peace of mind when your toddler steps into the water.
Plus, it’s good to teach your toddler safety from the beginning. Water wings with an attached chest piece are the best option for toddlers. However even with floaties on, you still can’t leave them unsupervised.
Recommended reading: The Best Floaties For Toddlers Under 30 Lbs
You should always keep some spare clothes for your toddler no matter where you are going. While visiting the beach, keep extra casual clothing along with your toddler’s swimsuit.
Your little one may become tired of wet dress, or may get dirty. At the very least, you will need to put your child in dry clothes for the trip back home from the beach.
Many toddlers are typically not potty trained and they still wear diapers. Most public swimming facilities require that toddlers (or preschoolers) use swim diapers if they are not potty trained. And not to be too graphic, but this is essential to prevent floating poop in the water.
Swim diapers are not able to hold pee. They keep solid waste from going into the water. There are two types of swim diapers – disposable and reusable.
Disposable swim diapers have an outer layer of nylon and elastane that keeps the mess inside. These diapers are convenient and easy to manage, but it can also be helpful to have some reusable diapers to save money.
Reusable swim diapers are usually more like a mesh from the inside, with a breathable polyester sheet outside. Since you can machine wash and reuse these diapers they can save you money in the longer term.
I usually started with a reusable swim diaper for my beach day, and then switched to disposable ones if a diaper change was needed.
8 – Diapers & Wipes
Since swim diapers do not absorb pee, you will also need regular diapers for when your toddler is not in the water. And of course you will also need wipes for diaper changes too.
Whether you use disposable diapers or reusable diapers, be sure to bring a few diapers with you because your toddler might need to be changed more than once. Also, don’t forget to change over to swim diapers when going in the water. Regular diapers will blow up like a balloon (and maybe even explode) from absorbing so much water.
9 – Beach Toys
You cannot keep toddlers engaged in one kind of activity for all that long. They will run and play around for some time, and then they will get bored.
Having a variety of fun beach toys will help keep your toddler entertained. Sandcastle molds, stacking toys, beach toy shovels, sand toy trucks, and simple sand molds are good choices.
Make sure to check that the edges of the toys are not sharp and there are no tiny pieces (choking hazards), in case your toddler tries to put anything in his mouth. You can keep a small and easy-to-carry bag for beach toys to keep them in one place or invest in a set that comes with a bag like this.
10 – Water Bottle / Sippy Cup
Your toddler will get thirsty during a hot day at the beach, especially when running around and playing. You might have to walk a long way to buy a water bottle, if that’s even an option. Always have a water bottle or sippy cup for when your toddler is thirsty, and one for you too.
A beach bag or a beach cart is absolutely necessary. You will take a lot of stuff with you, and of course, you can’t carry it all in your hands. So you will need a big bag or a cart for all your beach stuff.
An easy-to-carry beach bag that is waterproof with some small pockets is a great option. It will keep your stuff from being wet or dirty. Moreover, your beach bag should have plenty of space to fit all your stuff, but also be compact enough to carry onto the beach.
Depending on how much you have, you can also opt for a beach cart. This is more like a trolly with sand-friendly wheels. If you don’t have a lot of stuff with you, a simple bag will suffice.
I will also add that we always have beach chairs for the adults and invested in the backpack kind that also come with pockets where we can put towels, water bottles, etc. This gives my husband and I each two free hands too.
He even attaches the cooler, beach umbrella, and beach toys to the chairs. Basically our two backpack beach chairs also act as our beach bag.
A wet bag will be used to store all your wet things like diapers and bathing suits. It prevents leakage and allows easy transport to a washing area or back home. A wet bag can simply be a disposable plastic bag – you may want to bring a couple bags with you.
You might not find a nearby restroom whenever you need to clean up your hands. You can’t wash your hands with seawater because it is not suitable for sanitizing purposes. That’s why it’s essential to bring a small travel hand sanitizer with you.
You should keep some spare cash or plastic money (credit card), keys, and your phone with you. This might be a given, but it’s a good reminder so you don’t forget them.
>>Grab your printable Toddler Beach Packing List here!<<
After packing all the essential things to take to the beach with a toddler listed above, if you still have some space or a helping hand to carry a few more items, you can add some or all of the things below to your beach packing. These items are not essential, but it’s nice to have them with you for more fun or comfort.
Beach Umbrella or Tent or Both
When you spend a long day at the beach you can hang out in the direct sunlight, but I do highly recommend bringing a beach umbrella with you. A good beach umbrella should be at least 6 feet in diameter to cover a wide enough area.
Some umbrellas also provide UV protection, so that’s another nice feature for your umbrella to have. Another good option for protection from the sun is a beach tent.
Beach tents are a little bit more work to setup and do not provide as much breeze to pass through. But, they do provide more privacy for diaper changes and can make a good napping space.
We used a beach tent in conjunction with a beach umbrella when we had toddlers, especially since we were going through potty training, which we will discuss now.
Travel Potty (If Potty Training)
If you are potty training your toddler or he is recently potty trained, a travel potty can be a great idea. Your toddler might not be able to hold it until you find or walk to a nearby restroom, so you can use a portable potty chair instead.
A travel potty that is easy to carry and easy to clean is a good option. But make sure that your toddler has used this potty chair before (at home), so he doesn’t refuse to sit on it.
Toddlers are known for their demanding behavior. If they are not familiar with a thing, they may refuse to use it on the spot.
Beach Chairs For The Adults
A beach chair will add some comfort to your relaxation time on the beach. You can keep a lounge beach chair with a padded headrest.
A comfortable and nice chair will help you enjoy the breeze and the environment. You can also use it to put your toddler to sleep for a nap. They are comfortable, but make sure to fill the sides with a support to prevent falling.
Some good features to look for in beach chairs include cup holders, armrest, multiple reclining positions, and a small pocket to store some accessories. And don’t forget that it might make sense to invest in a backpack beach chair too.
Excessive exposure to UV rays can affect vision. In addition, direct sunlight is not suitable for the eyes. I always make sure to wear sunglasses as part of my walk to the beach, but they are listed here as a reminder that you might want some for your toddler.
It could be a toss up if your toddler wants to wear sunglasses. If you do get some make sure you get ones with polarized lenses and UV protection. It might be helpful to get kids sunglasses that come with a strap too.
Flying a kite is a fun activity to do at the beach. You and your kids will enjoy it a lot. But make sure that you are going in the right weather when the wind speed is mild, preferably under 15-20 mph. Just find some space at the beach where people are not resting and have fun with your family flying a kite.
When you spend a long day at the beach, a stroller is a nice to have item. Besides carrying your child, you can keep your beach bag in the stroller basket and store other accessories in the stroller pockets.
But make sure that the stroller you choose has large, air-filled tires that are easy to use on the sand. It should be lightweight too. Typically you would use an all-terrain jogging stroller on a sandy beach.
Water shoes are a great thing to use when frequently moving from dry land to water or vice versa. They are made up of mesh-type material that makes them flexible and breathable.
In addition, these shoes provide better drainage when you are out of water. Water shoes will keep your toddler’s (and your) feet protected from rocks in the ocean too.
A sun hat for you and your toddler is a great thing to have when you are at the beach. It protects from sunlight directly hitting the face and it keeps skin safe from harmful UV rays. But remember, sunscreen is still essential. A sun hat is not an alternative to sunscreen.
A beach is an incredible place to have fun, but it can be home to many bugs and insects. Some of them can be harmless, but some can bite and cause allergies or rash.
Having bug spray can help keep you safe from the bugs. Spray it all over and reapply when the waves wash it off. Make sure to choose a kid-friendly bug spray too.
Hairbrush and Hair Ties
If you or your toddler have long hair and you end up with a windy day or it’s very hot, it’s a great idea to have a hairbrush with hair ties. Pack a hairbrush and a few hair ties in your handbag if you have space.
While packing your beach bag, you might find it beneficial to pack smaller bags inside your big bag with one for the adults and one for your kids. Give priority to the essentials and consider the usage of the items. Things that are small, necessary, and will be used multiple times should be handy, like sunscreen, diapers, swim diapers, snacks, water, etc.
Now that you know the things you need to take to the beach with a toddler, get packing and enjoy your time there!
That is the complete list of the things you need to pack when you are going to the beach with a toddler. The list was broken into two categories: essentials and optional items. Enjoy your beach day!
Other toddler articles you might find helpful: