We just recently got back from our second beach trip of the Summer, so I figured it was the perfect time to talk my top five tips for taking your toddler to the beach! Hitting the beach with little ones is definitely a completely different ballgame than solo trips. Relaxation? What’s that?! Just kidding… kinda. But just because they’re different, doesn’t mean that they have to be painful or difficult!
A hungry baby is a cranky baby, right mamas? It rings especially true in my house! 😉 So my number one tip has to be about food!
1. Bring all the drinks and snacks
My child is very food motivated and would never make it long without snacks. Needless to say, I’m pretty used to packing all the food! We normally bring a picnic lunch: sandwiches, chips, and fruit. For other snacks, we pack several apple sauce pouches, ready-to-eat fruit like washed grapes, apples, or oranges (it’ll help keep your little one hydrated too!), and goldfish crackers.
For drinks, we pack up several bottles of water (this type for Aaron and I, and this smaller size for Layla). I’ll also occasionally pack juice boxes! If you don’t want to worry about tipping juice boxes, these holders can be easily nestled in the sand. They’re perfect for windy beaches!
2. Provide shade
I’m not a big fan of big beach umbrellas. I think I’ve seen way too many flip off in the wind, and that freaks me out. Anyone else?! Buuuut we did purchase a small popup beach tent that works wonderfully! It folds up super-easily and fits inside our beach bag! Layla loved taking little breaks in the shade and playing with her toys inside it. For $30, it was well worth it! (And although many people complained about putting it back together, we figured it out on our first try!)
3. Bring a waterproof blanket.
This beach blanket is everything. It’s big enough for the whole family, and contains pockets so that you can weigh it down with sand! And then it folds into a packable bag. Win! We always lay our towels on top of the waterproof blanket, and that prevents them from getting completely covered in wet sand. It makes clean-up so much easier!
I’m pretty sure I always over-do it a bit on the toys. I bring all of L’s shape molds along with buckets, shovels, and rakes. Really the only one who molds sand is me! 😉 Layla would be 100% happy with a couple buckets, a shovel, and a dump truck. Next time, I’ll try to downsize!
Also, another thing I’ve been meaning to do is buy a mesh bag! Once you’re done in the sand, you can throw all your sandy toys inside it. Next beach trip, this one is coming with me for sure! So much easier than trying to keep ahold of a plastic bag that could fly off in the wind! Also, I’m all about less mess.
5. Bring a wet/dry bag
I actually bought a reusable one from Pottery Barn that we use constantly for pool days and beach trips. (Here is a less expensive option too.) We keep our phones, money, keys, etc. inside. When Layla was still in diapers, it was a great place to store those too! If you don’t want to invest in a reusable one, ziploc bags work great also. You can used gallon-sized ones for clothes and diapers. Smaller ones can hold cell phones or other small items you don’t want getting wet. And once you leave the beach, you can easily flip them to a wet bag! Wet bathing suits, hats, etc. can be stashed until you get home!
BONUS TIP: Don’t force the ocean
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how nervous the ocean would make Layla! It totally makes sense! To such a small person, the waves must look incredibly scary! But I was still surprised by how little she even wanted to get her feet wet. At times we let her be and at times we “forced” it a bit. I carried her into the water once, and y’all, it did not go well. When she was left to play on her own, she found her way closer to the water’s edge on her own time. I think letting them explore at their own rate is the way to go! It’s definitely my plan of attack for the future!
What items are on your must-have list for hitting the beach with toddlers?