What to take to the beach with a toddler?
If you are heading to the beach for the first time with a toddler (or younger child) you might be asking yourself this question. Nothing is worse than getting all the way to your destination and immediately leaving because you are unprepared. In my life unprepared almost always equals tantrums (of the toddler or adult variety). I’ve put together my top five must have’s to take to the beach when bringing a toddler. I am leaving out the obvious. You need sunscreen, water, and food. I am assuming you are practically a walking grocery store as it is.
1. Beach Shoes
This may seem like an obvious answer to the question: what to take to the beach with a toddler? But for us it wasn’t. In preparation for our first beach trip we brought a lot of useful things but beach shoes did not make the list. Boy were we sorry. Sand is not a stable walking surface which can throw a new walker off. Our daughter would scream anytime we attempted to inch her towards the sand.
This is why I caution against heading to the beach unprepared. It takes us thirty minutes to get out the door on a good day. Add in gear for the beach, suncreening, and walking to the beach and you are looking at an hour. And we had to leave within five minutes because our daughter was inconsolable. A helpful mommies group led me to the beach shoes suggestion and we were back in business!
2. Inflatable Pool
I got made fun of by quite a few people on the beach for this. You know what? They can laugh all they want because that pool was a life saver! What could a toddler possibly hate more than sand? The ocean. Which does beg the question why we even went to the beach but let’s not go there. The ocean is big and possibly cold. An understandably terrifying new experience. We were able to get her to dip her toes by the end of the trip but it took a handful of visits to get there. In the meantime we were hanging out on the beach. In the summer. It’s hot. What do toddlers hate more than sand and the ocean? Being hot! I mean, me too! Our solution was an inflatable pool full of ocean water. I kid you not when I say she LOVED it. Beyond love. You can thank me for this great tip later.
Sorry no picture of the inflatable pool. My husband was in them all in a bathing suit and he might kill me! But you know what an inflatable pool looks like 🙂
3. An easily constructed tent
If you have followed my advice and brought beach shoes and an inflatable pool you will need a tent. Why do you need to take a tent to the beach with a toddler? Because if you have brought the other two items then you will be spending all day at the beach. Sunscreen can only take you so far. If you are going to spend the whole day at the beach a tent is a great idea. It also helps with the heat problem. Unless you want to be in the inflatable pool too!
We purchased our tent from Costco two years ago, a comparable model is available here. The trick to this tent is that it expands in seconds using a pull. You then stake it to the ground to secure it. We traveled with two other families and watched them struggle with their tents. Definitely do yourself a favor and get yourself something from Lightspeed or a tent with a comparable design.
What to leave at home?
1. Swim diapers
Literally what do they do? We put one on at the house right before we left for the beach. Our toddler promptly peed. Since these diapers are design to not absorb urine it went everyone. Meltdown number one of the day. We just put her in regular diapers.
I have never seen so much mess as was created by four toddlers and an infant at the beach. Do yourself a favor and leave anything you might not want sand or salt water on at home.
3. The 800 toys you think you need
The beach is actually pretty stimulating. We needed an inflatable pool, three to four bath toys, a shovel and a bucket. That was honestly about it! I swear on our first beach trip I brought books. Just in case, guys, just in case.
Bonus tip for younger travelers:
What to bring for an infant not quite sitting?
We brought our infant bath seat from home. Something like this would work. Another life saver for when you would like to have your hands free. We were able to plop our daughter into it and she loved it!
What do you take to the beach with a toddler? Is there something you can’t live without? Please share it with me in the comments!