Family Travel / Travel Tips

10 Tips for Taking a Toddler to the Beach

Our family loves going to the beach, along with everything that comes with it: the sand between our toes, salty hair and the warm sun on our skin. Living in Western Australia we are only minutes away from some of the best beaches and love to visit regularly. But taking a toddler to the beach can sometimes be a challenge, even when you go often!

Over the last few years we have really learnt what is essential for a day at the beach with a toddler. Our family will often focus on keeping it simple when we pack for a day at the beach, making our trip more enjoyable! So, if you are planning to take your toddler to the beach for the first time or preparing for your family beach holiday here’s our best tips!

1. Pack Light for the Beach with a Toddler

It goes without saying, kids often come with so much stuff… but you don’t have to take it all to the beach! We love to use the beach as a way to escape the busyness of life, to just relax and enjoy time together. So, we leave all the stuff at home and just pack the essential things we need for our toddler to be happy at the beach.

A good rule to follow is to decrease the amount of stuff you pack by the amount of time you plan to spend at the beach. If you are going for an hour, only take 2 or 3 things. If you are going for a whole day, you may need a little more!

What is essential to pack for the beach with a toddler?

  1. Sunscreen

    If you plan to spend the day at the beach you need to pack some sunscreen, especially if you have a toddler. It is a simple matter of protecting your child from the sun and preventing sunburn that will make them cranky the next day!

  2. Rashie & Hat (or jumper & beanie)

    To go along with sun protection at the beach, pack a rashie and a hat for your toddler. If you can’t get your child to wear a hat (I struggle with this) either get one that has a strap or be prepared to lather their head in sunscreen!

    While most people think of warm weather when heading to the beach, we also love to visit the beach in winter. Even if you don’t think its that cold, make sure you rug up for the beach since the wind along the coast is often colder!

  3. Beach Blanket (or chair)

    When we go to the beach I like to take just a beach blanket, rather than a chair. My beach blanket packs up nice and small, with a carry strap, meaning we have a lot less to carry!

    However if you are planning a whole day at the beach, it is better to pack a chair for more comfort. We like to take smaller ones, since they are low to the ground and lighter to carry!

  4. Towels

    Okay, you are going to the beach so you will probably go for a swim. Don’t forget to pack the towels!

    Alternatively, towels can be used to keep warm if the wind picks up or the sunsets!

  5. Water & Snacks

    Even if we are going to the beach for just an hour, we always take some water! Not only is it useful for staying hydrated, but you never know when your toddler might get sand in their eyes.

    We will often pack some snacks along if we are heading to the beach for a few hours. Snacks are great for cheering up a cranky toddler! Our favourite easy & healthy snack to pack for the beach are bananas.

Obviously there are more things that you could pack for the beach, but these are just the essentials. By packing minimally you reduce the stress of lugging things over the sand dunes and can focus more on enjoying the beach!

2. Sunscreen Before You Go to the Beach

When you take a toddler to the beach, it is essential that your whole family apply sunscreen. If you are visiting a beach holiday destination the sun is likely to be stronger than at home, especially because you will be spending a lot of time outside. So don’t be fooled by the dream of having a sun kissed toddler and make sure they are protected from the sun!

Depending on how long we plan to stay at the beach, we like to apply sunscreen at home then leave it behind. This way we have one less thing to take along, meaning we can pack much lighter for our day at the beach! However, if you are going to spend an entire day at the beach, you will need to take the sunscreen along so you can re-apply!

3. Dress Your Family Appropriately

Along with applying sunscreen, you need to make sure you take clothing to protect your toddler from the sun! A long sleeve rashie (or rash guard) will also mean that you will spend less time re-applying sunscreen throughout the day! You should also have a hat for your toddler to wear.

I always pack some warmer clothes for my family, especially if we plan to spend the whole day at the beach until the sunsets. Once the sun starts to go down or the wind picks up it can often start to get very cold!

I can’t tell you how many times of rocked up to the beach wearing clothes that are too warm… or not warm enough! Make sure you check the weather prior to visiting so that you can pack the right clothing.

4. Consider Your Toddler’s Nap Times

When planning your day at the beach, it is always a good idea to consider your toddlers nap times! There is nothing worse than a tired, sandy toddler at the beach. The best time to go is just after your child has woken up for the day, or right after a nap.

For us, Koby naps during the middle of the day so we like to visit in the morning or late afternoon. If we go in the morning, we like to be prepared to leave as soon as we are ready for the day. When we visit the beach in the late afternoon we will often stay for a sunset dinner.

5. Don’t Take a Toddler to the Beach When it is Extremely Hot

Toddlers will often get cranky when they are too hot, so it is a good idea to avoid the beach during the hottest part of the day. This will also reduce the risk of getting sunburnt. If you can’t avoid the hottest part of the day, make sure you have some sort of shade available!

Living in Western Australia our summers can be very hot, meaning the sun can be very harsh! During the summer months we will often avoid going to the beach in the middle of the day, unless we have shade available.

mother and toddler at the beach

Read Also: Why Your Family Should Travel in Your Own “Backyard”

6. Take a Beach Chair if Needed

Usually, we don’t take chairs when we visit the beach. We like to take a foldable, easy to carry beach blanket instead so that we have less to pack. However, if you are planning to stay at the beach for the whole day a beach chair will be very useful!

7. Be Selective with your Toddler’s Beach Toys

We don’t usually take any beach toys for our toddler. Mostly because he isn’t too interested in them and would much rather run around and chase seagulls!

However, if your toddler enjoys playing in the sand a bucket and shovel should keep them entertained for hours.

8. Take a Spare Bag to the Beach

If you plan to spend all day at the beach, make sure you take a spare bag that can be used for things like wet sandy clothes or rubbish. There is nothing worse than having sand mixed in with your phone!

9. Don’t Expect to Relax at the Beach

For a successful day at the beach with a toddler you will have to accept that you won’t get to suntan like you use to. I don’t know about you, but my toddler is very busy and always needs attention! To keep your child happy come prepared to spend time with them and set aside your expectations for a relaxing day on the beach.

toddler walking on beach

10. Introduce Your Toddler to the Beach Slowly

Overall, don’t get discouraged if your toddler doesn’t love the beach right away. Some kids do not like having sand between their toes or find the water too cold to enjoy. But this is often just a phase or because it is something new, and they will naturally outgrow it.

Looking for some tips on how to introduce your toddler to the beach slowly? Download for free!

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