Heading to the beach with the crazies? I mean, kids? Let me help by offering you my best beach hacks for toddlers and babies.
I’ve been taking my kids to the beach throughout the different stages of baby to toddler. Throughout the years, I’ve had many successful and unsuccessful beach days and I’ve finally figured out what works.
The first time is always the hardest because of the unknown. Once you’ve handled a few beach days, you’ll know exactly what works for your crew.
Read over my beach hacks for toddlers and babies to make sure you are fully prepared for a beach day.
Best Beach Hacks for Toddlers and Babies
Bring only what you’ll actually need
Do. Not. Overpack. You’ll need to lug everything out there, then you’ll need to pack it all up and lug it all back.
Read my exhaustive beach day packing list here... and only bring the things you actually need. I cannot stress this more.
Pack everything up the night before
Preparation is the key to any successful activity with kids. You don’t want to be rushing around the morning of throwing things in bags in a panic. You’ll most likely forget a couple of important items. Plus, it’ll start the day off in a frenzy.
As soon as everyone wakes up, eat breakfast, throw your bathing suits on, load up on the sunscreen, and get to the beach.
Pack a cooler
Beach days get hot so having cool drinks and snacks is necessary. If you don’t want to haul a big cooler, there are plenty of small, travel sized ones that can carry a few drinks and snacks too.
Snacks – in portions
Bring different kinds of easy to eat snacks and pack them separately.
Dry snacks like crackers, goldfish, granola bars, and chips work great. Throw some cool snacks like sandwiches (in quarters or halves), fruits, veggies, yogurt pouches, cheese sticks, and some popsicles in a cooler.
One sandy hand can ruin a whole bag of food, so pack everything separately, or have it individually wrapped.
Make sure to drink LOTS of water
Bring as much water and juice you can to keep everyone hydrated. Freeze a few water bottles the night before and throw them in the cooler, or just keep them in the car for the drive to the hotel or rental house. They will be a refreshing treat after a hot day.
Try to beat the hottest part of the day (12-3pm) and go before or after lunch/naptime. The UV rays are the strongest and it won’t end well with fragile skin. Going early in the morning will help you snag a good spot too! Going later in the day will give you cooler temps and less people.
Sunscreen… then more sunscreen
Keep those kids (and yourself) lathered up at all times! Give them their first coat before you even get to the beach. Use lotion, spray, stick, whatever you have. Set a timer to remember to lather them up again periodically. Try using a makeup brush or sponge to get it on their face!
In addition, consider rash guards (short or long sleeve swim shirts) to minimize the amount of skin that’s in the sun.
Set up a functional spot
Get comfy! Grab a portable beach canopy for shade (or a tent for a bigger group or if you drove), lay sheets or blankets to sit on, and put the cooler under some shade.
If you’re at a hotel that offers beach service, grab a few chairs with umbrellas or a cabana.
Create a hand-washing station with an extra bucket
Bring an extra bucket and fill it with water from a sink or a beach shower to use as a hand washing station. (Another option is bringing baby wipes).
You can also use it when you leave to wash off sandy feet.
Carry all the beach gear in a mesh bag or laundry basket
Leave the sand at the beach and carry all of your beach gear in a mesh bag or even a laundry basket. A few shakes will get the majority of the sand out.
Protect your phone with a Ziplock bag or waterproof water cover
Keep your phone away from the sand, sunblock, water, etc. and just throw it in a ziplock bag.
Or you can get a waterproof case and get some cool pics underwater!
Ditch the stroller for a beach wagon or carrier
Sand is hard enough to walk in, let alone push a stroller in. If they can sit up on their own, use a wagon! Seriously a beach wagon is awesome. (If you’re flying somewhere, consider renting one!) It also is great for holding some of your beach gear.
Plus, you don’t just have to use at the beach, you can use it to get around anywhere.
For babies, you can just pop them in the carrier.
Find a beach with built-in activities vs a secluded one
Areas with rentals, lessons, food options, or boat rides work great. It’ll extend the beach day and a restaurant across the street for a quick lunch might be a welcomed break from the heat and sand.
The extra addition of chairs and umbrellas really limits how much you have to bring too. Some beaches (mostly in Florida) even have full service on the beach so you can order drinks and food from your chair!
If you’re staying in a hotel on the beach, make sure that it’s family friendly when you’re booking.
Forget the schedule
If you end up staying through naptime, don’t try to force the nap. If you get one, consider yourself lucky. If you don’t nap, they’ll most likely fall asleep as soon as they get in the car/stroller/wagon. Just go with it!
Hide your valuables inconspicuously
If you’re at a crowded beach, it wouldn’t hurt to keep your valuables, like your phone and keys, hidden. Grab a diaper and wrap them up in there (who would ever think to steal a diaper?) or put them in empty snack bags.
You can also dig a hole, throw them in the hole, and cover them with sand.
Bring trash bags for easy cleanup
Leave the beach how you found it and have a trash bag on hand for all your trash. That way you won’t have to walk over to the trash can can every time you need to throw something away.
Extra Beach Hacks Just for Toddlers
Dress the kids in bright or the same color
If the kids run off or get close to the water, it’ll be easier to find them if they stand out. It’s also easier to spot multiple kids if they’re in the same color.
Use baby powder to get sand off skin
Cornstarch works too. Rub it on dry arms and legs and the sand just wipes right off. It’s magic!
Bring extra clothes for the drive/walk out
That wet swimsuit smell is gross! Plus, it’s just not comfortable or hygienic. Get everyone in a fresh set of clothes before you get going. Put the wet clothes in a wet bag away from the rest of your stuff.
Put floaties on the bigger kids, even if they’re swimmers
You never know when a big wave will hit at the wrong time, so it’s just better to have the new swimmers in floaties or a life vest if they want to get in the water.
Bring the portable potty for easy restroom breaks
If you have a potty trained toddler, bring the potty! Instead of having to walk across the whole beach every time someone feels the need to go, bring the potty, line it with a trash bag, and let the kids have at it.
If you already got rid of your potty after you completed potty training, here’s another one you could use.
Extra Beach Hacks Just for Babies
Cover that skin up
You can’t put sunscreen on a baby until they are 6 months old. So, cover them up as much as you can. A rash guard and sunhat are perfect for this. Throw on some sunglasses too (if they’ll keep them on).
Bring a portable pop-up shade
If you’re going to a beach that doesn’t have umbrellas or cabanas, bring a sunshade. It’ll give you a spot for naps, feedings, and just some shade.
This is the one that I have, but if you don’t want to buy one, rent one when you get there from BabyQuip.
Set up a baby spot with a hole and a bucket or baby pool
Contain baby and give them their own spot by digging up a hole for them to sit in. Add a water bucket and some bath toys for them to splash in.
For the babies that are a little older, you can even get a baby pool and fill it up with some water for them to get their own ocean experience.
Take baby in the water with a floatie OR waterproof carrier
When you bring baby in the water keep your hands free, and let baby really feel the ocean, and pop them in floatie. It would be so sweet to see their reaction to being the water!
Or consider a waterproof carrier. This one is a great choice.
…and a reusable swim diaper
The disposable swim diapers don’t actually absorb anything. They just block anything coming out. I’m not a fan at all. The reusable ones are thick and easy to wash.
This is the one I have, I bought for both of my boys.
Grab a portable fan if it’s really going to be hot
Keep baby’s temperature under control with a clip-on portable fan. Clip-on fans are actually great for all summer. You can bring them to the beach or pool, but also clip them on the car seat or stroller whenever you’re out.
Final words on beach hacks for toddlers and babies
Bringing kids to the beach involves a bit more work, but it can absolutely be done (AND still be fun.)
Hopefully with some of my beach hacks for toddlers and babies, it’ll give you a plan of what you’ll need to do and bring to make the day successful.
And the more that you do it, the easier it will become. Like everything with kids, you will find your own groove and what works best for you and your kids will become more obvious.. and easy!
I’m glad that I didn’t give up after our first beach attempt. Now my kids ask me on their own to go to the beach!
Thanks for reading over my best beach hacks for toddlers and babies!