A Day at the Beach: 5 Tips for Your Toddler’s Beach Outing

Get ready for fun in the sun with your toddler.

No summer would be complete without a trip to the beach, and since most toddlers love sand and water, it’s a great spot for a family outing. But as with most activities with young children, planning ahead and being prepared go a long way toward a successful beach day. Use these tips to make sure you’re ready to take your toddler to the beach.

Pack the necessities.

When planning a day trip to the beach with a toddler, try to avoid last minute packing. In addition to what’s normally in your diaper bag, don’t forget to bring beach towels for everyone (plus a few extra), an extra swimsuit, plenty of swim diapers, a coverup, and a change of clothing for the ride home.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a large blanket for everyone to sit on, an umbrella to help shield you and your toddler from the sun, a cooler for snacks and drinks.

Other items to pack include bug spray to keep annoying critters away and baby powder, which helps remove sand. Finally, toss a few plastic baggies in your beach bag. It will help you keep wet clothes and bathing suits separate as well as protect any electronics you bring with you. 

You can also use this checklist to make sure you're prepared. 

Protect your toddler from the sun's rays.

For your toddler, choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15-30. Some experts recommend going higher, but others believe that anything over 30 doesn’t actually offer much additional protection.

Make sure that the sunscreen you use provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is water-resistant, fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic. Apply sunscreen before you head to the beach (depending on how far the trip is) and reapply it every 30 minutes.

It’s also smart to Invest in swimwear and clothing that offer UV protection, like rash guards (also called swim shirts). Toddlers should also have wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. 

Bring plenty of food and drinks.

Toddlers who are hungry get cranky. Make sure you pack plenty of easy-to-access snacks that can be quickly eaten as well as a picnic lunch if you plan to be at the beach during meal time. Stick with foods your toddler is familiar with and don't rely on beach concession stands. 

Fluids are important too. Drinking plenty of water will help keep the body’s natural cooling system working on a hot, sunny day. Bring plenty of water to the beach and make sure your toddler is taking regular hydration breaks.

Tip 4: Be ready to entertain.

Gone are the days of relaxing at the beach with a trashy novel. Any time you're near water with a child, vigilance is important.

As much as your toddler may love the beach, he may not be ready to get into the water, so don’t push him. Open water can be more frightening than a pool. There’s plenty to do on land. Bring toys for digging in and building with the sand — shovels, buckets, plastic molds are all perfect beach toys. 

If your child does want to venture into the water, make sure an adult is by her side at all times. If you want to be extra careful in open water, children can use personal floatation devices like life jackets. However, a life jacket is not a substitute for an adult, and toys like noodles, water wings and inflatable rafts do not prevent drowning

Build in break times.

Fun in the sun can be exhausting, and for a toddler who still takes a daily nap, breaks from the excitement will be necessary. If your toddler will sleep in the car, try to time the journey to the beach or back with nap time. If your toddler won't sleep in the car, consider cutting your trip short so you can get home in time for a nap. 

It’s also a good idea to get out of the sun around noon for lunch and some rest. The sun is strongest at noon, which, if you're not careful, can lead to heat-related illnesses, sunburns and dehydration. 

Preparation and having realistic expectations are key to a successful trip to a beach with a toddler. And while your beach trips may be less relaxing than they were pre-child, they are bound to be more fun with a little planning. 

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