Taking a toddler to the beach is a ton of fun as long as you follow a few tips and are well prepared. Check out these 12 tips for taking a toddler to the beach…Be prepared for your beach vacation this year with these tips for taking babies, toddlers, and kids to the beach. Have a relaxing family vacation by being prepared.
12 Tips for Taking a Toddler to the Beach
Surviving the Beach with a Toddler
Today I’m sharing how you can survive a trip to the beach with a toddler too- 12 tips for taking a toddler to the beach!
So, what you need to know when preparing to take a toddler to the beach….
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1. Don’t wait til the last minute to pack!
Sounds simple but remember- when you have a child everything takes at least twice as long. Use your list (see #2) and stick to it- make sure you have everything ready to go at least 1 day before (trust me- you’re going to keep thinking of things you need)!
2. Make your list and check it twice (just like Santa)!
I keep a pad and paper next to the bed and every time I think of something to add to the list I just add it right away. I’ll also take note of certain items I want to take several weeks ahead of time and jot those down too– I get my best ideas while doing laundry and right before bed. This list will save your sanity!
3. Pack your child’s clothes in gallon size plastic bags.
There’s 2 reasons for this…. 1. You’ll have outfits already picked out and ready to go- no wasting time deciding what to wear. 2. You avoid the dreaded sand in EVERYTHING issue. No one want to wear sandy pants….especially a cranky toddler who is over stimulated, hot, and tired! I prefer these reusable bags.
4. Schedule downtime.
YOU and your toddler will NEED it! Realistically speaking your toddler will not last more than 1.5 hours at a time in the ocean, on the beach, or in the pool. They need time to relax, take in all the new experiences, and unwind.
5. Schedule downtime!
Oh, did I already cover this one? Well, do it! If you don’t schedule it into your day then you’re not going to do everything you want to do…. those dinner reservations you’re really looking forward to will be derailed by a screaming toddler. Wanna watch the sunset while enjoying an ice cream on the Boardwalk? Don’t schedule in some nap time and you’ll be wishing it were bedtime!
I like to close all of the blinds, crank up the air conditioning, curl up under the covers, and put on a classic movie like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, or Aladdin. We snuggle up and the kids are out in no time…and I get to watch a movie I love!
6. Protection from the Sun!
Sounds easy right?
It takes some work but you need to do more than just apply sunscreen when at the beach. Remember the sun is like 10x more powerful along the coast even on overcast days. I highly suggest either bringing or going to one of the billions of surf/souvenir shops along the way and pick up a cheap beach umbrella. Now I know- you’re toddler is not going to stay under the umbrella- but they will seek it out once they start getting hot. That’s why it’s also important to try to get them to wear a hat, put a surf shirt with a UPF 50 or greater on them to protect their arms and shoulders (those always seem to be the first to burn…my legs will be white as snow but oh my shoulders—they’ll be burnt to a crisp!)- and try not to stay right on the beach for more than 45 minutes at a time.
One of my favorite things to have at the beach is this awesome beach tent. Your toddler can still play in the water while hanging out in the shade…plus I can hang out in the shade too! 😉
7. Take Water and Snacks!
Even if you’re taking just a 45 minute stroll down to the beach the last thing you want is to have a hungry baby throwing a fit and trying to eat sand. Now, the beach is not someplace you want to take a banana- seems like a good idea- healthy, easy to transport, etc…..but take my word for it—DON’T DO IT! I speak from experience- once the tiny toddler hand reaches for that peeled banana it becomes a very messy/sandy/yucky banana- and the heat doesn’t help much either. Take something simple- like a single pack of crackers—you know the 8 pack style ones.
And don’t forget the sippy cup- and make sure your little one sips on it every few minutes—they can quickly become dehydrated and that’s really no fun! I prefer to take CamelBak travel cups because they keep the sand out and are easy to clean.
8. Pack Lightly but don’t forget…
You don’t want to load yourself down with a ton of stuff to go out to the beach….trust me…corralling a toddler and carrying armloads of stuff is going to be a pain (oh and don’t try to take the stroller- even if you have a jogger with big wheels- it will get stuck or topple over)!
If you want a rolling wagon to carry stuff down to the beach, get one that’s specifically made for rolling through sand, like this one.
Here’s what I pack in my oversized mesh beach bag– tablecloth (instead of a blanket or towel- it’s large, compact, and doesn’t collect sand), water bottles, 2-3 small snack packs, sippy cup, sunscreen, sand toys, baby powder, and camera).
9. Baby Wipes are your enemy while Baby Powder is your friend at the beach!
Baby wipes do nothing other than collect sand at the beach! The baby powder works wonders for getting the sand off—just sprinkle some on the skin and rub it in—all the sand falls right off! I love these little powder pouches for keeping baby powder in my bag…instead of taking the whole bottle. Plus, they make spreading the baby powder on a breeze!
10. Forget the Towels
I don’t bother with towels because the heat will just dry you and they collect sand anyway…if you’re staying at a beachfront hotel just leave your towels at the pool so you can dry off before going inside—otherwise leave them at the car.
Instead of towels, I prefer to take a big beach blanket to spread out on. This one is great because the sand just flows right through it so you’re not having to constantly shake it off and it’s HUGE which is so much better than an itty bitty towel.
11. Skip the Electronic Devices at the Beach
Don’t bother taking your phone or any other electronic device unless you REALLY need it. Your dreams of reading the latest e-book while your toddler plays are not going to work out so well—if your toddler is anything like mine. I saved the e-reading for the balcony at night after Little Man went to bed.
Your toddler is going to want to play with you- so unless you want a bucket of sand or water dropped on your electronic device it’s best to just leave it in the room. Plus, you may want to walk down the beach and it wouldn’t be fun to come back and realize it’s been stolen…unless you really want to lug all of your stuff around with you.
Or, if you really need your electronic devices to stay in touch with fellow travelers then there are a few options available for beach safes…yes, these are safes that you embed in the sand to keep your stuff safe. This beach safe is my favorite because it’s multi-functional.…you just put everything inside the bucket, close the lid and put it into the sand under your beach blanket. It also doubles as a bluetooth speaker and a power bank to make your beach trip even more enjoyable!
Or, if you don’t necessarily want to bury your belongings in the sand you can always check out the AquaVault which was featured on Shark Tank -it latches on to a beach chair and comes equipped with an alarm system and solar charger!
12. Take care of yourself!
Don’t forget to add sunscreen on to yourself—a burnt Mommy is definitely not a fun Mommy (I speak from experience on this too!) If you only apply sunscreen before heading out for the day you won’t notice while you’re out playing but come the next morning you will be in a world of pain! Make sure that you reapply your sunscreen EVERY TIME you reapply your little one’s sunscreen—even if you think you don’t need it because you want to get a tan. Trust me- you WILL get a tan even with sunscreen- the object is not to burn! 🙂
13. Schedule Quiet Time before Dinner
I know- I told you to schedule downtime twice already….but what I mean about quiet time is a bit different. About an hour before you want to go for dinner go back to your room- shut the curtains- turn off the tv and all lights—and just RELAX in bed with your little one. They don’t have to nap—the time can be spent making faces at each other or exchanging hugs and kisses. But spend at least 30 minutes just relaxing with your little one. Not only will it help you experience the meaning of life (I’m getting deep here I know! :)) but it will help recharge your toddler so they can make it through dinner without a meltdown. This is actually my favorite part of the whole day because you really do connect with your little one and it’s a very peaceful time.
14. Don’t force your toddler toward the ocean
I know, you came here for the beach and ocean but actually a lot of toddlers are scared of the ocean—it can be quite a scary place with it’s unpredictability. Babies are usually fine but once they hit toddlerhood and are exploring they like to be in situations they can control—the ocean is not one of these. With it’s forceful waves—you never know where to expect the water next. It’s loud crashing water sounds, numerous people, dazzling array of birds….all of it is so new—don’t be surprised if your toddler is not as eager to go to the beach as you are.
15. Embrace the hotel pool!
Most beachside hotel pools have kiddie pools with them so enjoy them. We spent a majority of our time at the pool on this trip because it was an area that Little Man could control and had the most fun. Rinse the sand toys off and let your little one play with them in the pool. Let them enjoy the water….and re-apply that sunscreen whenever they get out!
16. Relax, Have Fun, and Let Your Toddler Lead the Way
This is probably your toddler’s first real vacation…at least where they are more mobile. So let them lead the way and make some decisions. If you micro-manage the days you are going to be disappointed. But if you let your Little One lead the way you may be surprised at where you end up!
Hopefully now you too will survive the beach with a toddler in tow!
Do you have any tips or tricks when taking a toddler to the beach? Please share them below!!
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