Summer is just around the corner, which means fun in the sun is on the horizon. And nothing says summer like a trip to the beach! But you may be wondering what to pack for your day with the kids?
It is so fun to rediscover the beach through the eyes of a young child. Their wonderment at the feel of the sand beneath their feet and the waves tickling their toes is one of parenthood’s true treats! But planning the perfect day at the beach with your child takes a bit more thought than it did when you were out solo with just a towel and some shades (and maybe a good book). Properly prepping for a beach adventure with your kids will ensure you have the best day possible enjoying the sand and surf!
Beach Day Must-Haves: Items to Toss in Your Beach Bag
If you are heading to the beach with young kids in tow, make sure to pop these must-have items in your beach bag to ensure your kids are entertained all day and there isn’t a sunburn in sight!
- Sunscreen. The spray kind is faster to apply to young kids. Just be sure that it is SPF 50 or more and that it is waterproof. Be sure to reapply every 90 minutes to prevent sunburn.
- A sun hat or sunglasses. Prevent tiny heads from being sunburned with a hat, which can also be used to keep the sun off noses and cheeks, as well! Sunglasses provide kids some protection from the glare of the sun bouncing off the water.
- A large umbrella or shade tent. Yes, these can be cumbersome to haul to the beach, but you will be so glad you brought them. Create a place where you and the kids can retreat from the sun while still enjoying the sand. Your skin will thank you!
- Beach towels or blankets. Bring several beach towels for drying off the kids after a dip in the water as well as for sitting on to keep feet and bums off the hot sand. A beach blanket that prevents sand from sticking is also a great option!
- Water shoes. The sand can get very hot, and you don’t want kids to burn their feet. Grab some inexpensive shoes from the dollar store and encourage kids to keep them on at all times in the water. This also prevents tiny toes from being pinched by crabs!
- Water, water, water! Be sure you and the kids stay hydrated in the sun with water. Either bring a cooler filled with disposable water bottles (place them back in the cooler once empty to recycle later) or fill up reusable water bottles with ice water and keep those in the cooler.
- Snacks. It seems that kids are always hungry, so, to prolong your day on the beach, don’t forget to bring snacks! Crackers, fruit (if kept in a cooler), chips, granola bars, and fruit snacks are all easy to stick in a cooler or insulated bag and transport to the beach.
- Baby wipes or wet wipes. Wet wipes come in handy at the beach to clean little hands before they want to eat.
- Beach toys. Pick up a bucket and shovel at the local dollar store and bring it to the beach. Most come with a few molds that will have your child creating a virtual sand village in no time! Just be sure you have a bucket and a shovel for each child to prevent bickering.
- Waterproof case for your phone. If you are hoping to snap great pictures of your kids in the water or the sand, grab a waterproof bag for your phone that can be worn around your neck. This way you always have your phone close at hand but don’t have to worry about sand or water damaging it.
- A wagon. Grab a folding wagon online or from your local sporting goods store to haul all of your goodies from the car. Folding wagons are a fantastic investment for sports, beach days, pool days, and more. They fold up to store easily in the trunk of your car and then expand into a full-size wagon to help you move things from point a to point b. They are a parenting must-have year-round!
Beach Day Must-Haves: Optional Extras
If you’ve collected all of your beach must-haves and tossed them into your beach bag, you are ready to step into your bathing suit and head to the beach! Here are a few extras to consider bringing with you if space allows…
- A personal safe. These are generally not too expensive and fit nicely into a large tote or beach bag. They allow you to toss your keys, phone, and credit card inside and secure them with a four-digit lock code to prevent someone from stealing items from you while you are playing in the water or not sitting in your beach area.
- Chairs. These can be somewhat uncomfortable to haul but are worth the effort if you plan to be out for an extended time. Being able to sit somewhere other than on the sand is a nice option for parents!
- A change of clothes for everyone. It is easier to just pack cover-ups to toss on after the day and figure you’ll shower and change once you get home. But it is nice, especially for the kids, to have something dry to put over their bodies to warm up in the event that the afternoon brings cooler air. This also means you could stop and grab dinner or souvenir shop after your beach day without worrying about what you are wearing.
Enjoy your day at the beach!
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.