29 Toddler Beach Essentials + 10 Best Beach Tips (2024)

Looking for toddler beach essentials? You came to the right place. I’ve visited the beach countless times with my sons and I have compiled a list of 29 toddler beach essentials for you! 

Going to the beach was my favorite thing to do before kids, and still is after I’ve had both of my boys (after years of practice).

The beach is an amazing place, but taking kids to it requires a lot of prepping and planning. It took me a few trips to get the hang of it, but now, it’s like clockwork!

I’ve put together my list of toddler beach essentials (with items either I or my friends own, so I know first-hand they’re good) plus my top ten toddler beach tips from my years of experience.

Since toddlers range from 1-3 years old, I’ve included items for the whole age range.

If this is your first trip to the beach with your toddler, don’t worry! As long as you prepare, it’ll be a great time. (And if it’s not, just leave and try again the next day, lol. Parent life, am I right?)

Ok let’s get started! 

And if you need a packing list, check out my full beach day packing list here

Key Takeaways

  • With some preparation, a beach day with a toddler can be very fun! 
  • A few toddler beach essentials are sunscreen, a cooler full of water and snacks, rash guards, towels, shade, water floats, and sand toys. 
  •  Key beach tips are to skip mid-day, hydrate regularly, be aware of the beach conditions, and apply sunscreen routinely. 

Table of Contents

29 Toddler Beach Essentials

The catch phrase of not only Boy Scouts, but parents worldwide—always be prepared!

A beach day with a toddler can be so fun, but being prepared is a MUST.

With a little planning, you can ensure that everyone has a fun and safe time. Start off by reading over my packing list to get you ready.

FOR THE WALK IN:

1. Beach Wagon

The ultimate beach ride! There’s room for 2 kids plus all your gear. It has extra-wide beach tires for a smooth ride too. 

If you want to browse more of the best beach wagons, check out my full list here.

2. Mesh Beach Bag

A mesh beach bag is a great choice because it allows sand and water to drain out, keeping your gear dry and sand free.

This bag also has a variety of pockets to keep all of your gear organized and both a hand strap and shoulder strap.

FOR SETTING UP YOUR SPOT:

3. Oversized Beach Blanket

Comes in 3 different sizes and can fit up to 7 people-  but still fits in a small travel bag. Plus sand proof AND water resistant. 

 

4. Pop-up Tent

These small beach tents are great for the little ones that need a spot to nap or a break from the sun.

Comes with a carrying bag and folds up well- it fit in our luggage easily.

5. Beach Umbrella

Block out the sun and enjoy your beach day with a little bit of shade with this big umbrella.

It’s lightweight, easy to setup, and stays secure in the sand.

6. Portable Fan

This fan can be used everywhere! Beach umbrellas, tents, wagons, the stroller.

It comes with three speeds and the battery can last for a full day. 

7. Mini Swimming Pool

Bring the water to you! Fill a small pool with ocean water and have your little one splash away in the shade.

8. Toddler Beach Chair

If you want an alternative to the toddler making a mess on the beach blanket, get them their own beach chair to sit in!

This chair folds up, has a cup holder and comes with a storage bag.

9. Floor Seat

Keep your little one secure while their toes are in the sand. If they’re still not ready for a beach chair, this floor seat is perfect.

FOR FOOD AND DRINK:

10. Soft Cooler

Instead of lugging a huge cooler, this is great for snacks and some drinks for a beach day.

This one has a shoulder strap and many pockets.  

11. Insulated Water Bottle

Hydration is key when you’re at the beach and these insulated water bottles will keep water cool for longer, are spill proof, and have an easy hold.

They are perfect for all types of outdoor outings!

TO PUT ON THE TODDLER:

12. Sunscreen

Gotta lather up! This sunscreen is SPF 50+, water resistant up to 80 minutes, reef friendly, free of harsh chemicals, and vegan.

It’s also easy to apply which reduces the time you’ll have to deal with a squirming toddler!

13. Sun Hat

Cover up as much skin as you can! A sun hat is essential to protect a toddler’s face, ears, and neck from the sun.

This one is lightweight, breathable, and has a chin strap so it doesn’t fall off.

14. Rash Guard

Rash guards are key to protecting toddlers’ skin from the sun, bug bites, and scrapes or scratches.

This one is great quality, lightweight, dries fast, and comes in many different colors.

15. Swimsuit for Girls

If rash guards aren’t stylish enough for your girl, a long sleeve swimsuit is a great alternative!

This one will cover them up (just make sure to spray those legs!), it has UPF 50+ sun protection, a zip-up and snap closure to make sure it stays put, and it comes in adorable designs.  

16. Swim Trunks Set for Boys

If you’re looking for swim trunks and a rash guard, this one is adorable, has UPF 50+ sun protection, and has both an elastic waistband and tie up for a snug fit.

17. Water Sandals

Protect those little feet from hot sand, rocks, and whatever else can appear in the sand.

These sandals come with a rubber sole, breathable cutouts, and protects their toes.

FOR THE WATER:

18. Swim Vest

I bought these for both of my boys and they both loved them.

The vests come in many different fun patterns too.  

19. Reusable Swim Diaper

Instead of buying the cheap disposable ones, these are well-made, absorb liquids really well, and you can use it over and over. 

20. Waterproof Baby Carrier

This waterproof carrier will let you go into the water with your little one while keeping your hands free.

21. Water Float

Perfect when you want to bring baby in the ocean or pool with you. 

My kids loved kicking their feet when they were in it. The shade is helpful too. 

22. Beach Towels

You can’t (or shouldn’t) get in the water if you don’t have a towel to dry you off! These beach towels are thick, huge, and they dry quick.

You can also get them in a colorful variety pack, so everyone gets their own color, or just stick to one color.  

23. Beach Towel Poncho

Not only are these ponchos so cute, but they are super soft and absorb water well.

They are literally the only way my toddler will actually keep a towel on to dry off too!

TOYS:

24. Ice Cream Sand Toy Set

Bought it because I thought it was cute and now my boys fight over who can play with it.

It’s a HUGE hit and the pieces are well made.

25. Collapsible Sand Buckets

Great for travel, these buckets collapse and come with a mesh carrying bag. They’re great quality too. 

26. Sand Toy Truck Set

This tractor and dump truck are HUGE hits on the beach with kids. My kids can spend the whole afternoon playing with just this set!

They are also great for the sand box too, so you can get more use out of them.  

EXTRAS:

27. Waterproof Phone Pouch

Protect your phone and get some great underwater pictures!

28. Baby Powder

The trick to getting sand off at the end of the beach day.

Once skin is dry, throw some baby powder on it and rub the sand off. Try it, you’ll be amazed!

29. Travel Potty

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.

My Top 10 Favorite Toddler Beach Tips

Toddlers love the beach, but it can be challenging to keep them entertained and safe.

 

You’ve bought all the gear, but what do you have to keep in mind during your time at the beach? What are you actually going to do while you’re there? How do you make sure everyone is safe? 

 

After years of hitting the beach with my toddlers, I’ve put together my top ten best tips to get you through the day. And if you want my full list of beach hacks for toddlers and babies, check it out here!


Skip mid-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.


Take sun breaks

Every 30-45 minutes, get out of the sun and sit under an umbrella or in the shade. In addition, consider rash guards (short or long sleeve swim shirts) to minimize the amount of skin that’s in the sun.


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Keep your toddler hydrated by giving them plenty of water throughout the day. Bring a water bottle for everyone (an insulated one would be best so it’ll stay cool longer).

And if it’s possible, freeze water bottles the night before and leave them in the car or beach bag for after! 


Be aware of the beach conditions

Make sure to look at the beach flag warnings to ensure it’s safe to go into the water. Always supervise your toddler closely when they are in the water.

Red flag—high hazard: high surf and/or strong currents.

Yellow flag—medium hazard: moderate surf and currents.

Green flag—low hazard: calm conditions

Purple flag: dangerous marine life spotted


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.


Apply sunscreen routinely

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, roughly every 2 hours. Try using a makeup brush or sponge to get it on their face!


Dress toddlers in bright and/or the same color

If your toddler runs off or gets 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

This has been a secret beach trick for years! Rub it on dry arms and legs and the sand just wipes right off. Cornstarch works too. 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.

FAQs: Toddler Beach Essentials

How do I entertain my 2-year-old at the beach

There is so much to do at the beach with a 2-year-old! A few of the most popular activities are:

  • Play with sand toys: with just a bucket and shovel they can dig holes, build sandcastles, or collect water. You can also bring other fun toys like a watering can or trucks.
  • Play in the sand: Digging holes, burying toys or each other, or building sandcastles and knocking them down are all fun sand activities.
  • Splash in the water: Go to the shallow part of the water and start splashing or running in and out of small waves.
  • Collect seashells: Walk around the beach and collect seashells in their bucket or a small bag. It’s fun to find seashells of different colors!

 

How long should a 2-year-old stay on the beach?

While you can certainly spend your whole day at the beach, a toddler should stay in the sun for about 45 minutes at a time. After 45 minutes, get in the shade for about 10-20 minutes before getting back into the sun.  

 

Should a toddler wear a diaper at the beach?

Absolutely! The best diapers for the beach are reusable swim diapers. They’re better for the environment and they absorb water very well.

Wrapping Up: Toddler Beach Essentials

Toddlers love the beach! It’s a place where they can run, play with sand, splash in the water, and explore nature. But before heading to the beach with a toddler, you have to make sure to be prepared.

With a little bit of panning and packing the right toddler beach essentials, you’ll ensure the whole family will have a blast. So, pack up your beach bag and follow these tips, and you’ll be ready to have a fun day at the beach with your toddler!

besa at beaches and babies

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

Need Help Booking Your Trip?
Use My Favorite Resources!

FLIGHTS
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the lowest prices plus the flexible calendar tells you which days are the cheapest to fly.

LODGING
booking.com is easy to use and gives options for all types of lodging. When I know I want a big rental house, I use VRBO.

RENTAL CARS
rentalcars.com scans multiple agencies at your destination to give you the best price.

ACTIVITIES
Viator lets you search for a specific activity at your destination or scroll all available.

Read over my full list of the best sites to book with on my Resources page.