Taking a trip to the beach? Nothing’s worse than forgetting an item. Discover the beach essentials for baby to take on your next summer trip.
“I’ll take him to the beach!” I told my husband.
I had a day off from work and wanted to do something special with my baby, to expose him to new experiences. The beach seemed like a perfect outing.
But the minute I parked the car, I knew I had come unprepared. You see, I thought I’d just take him for a walk along the beach. I didn’t think I’d stay long, what with nap times and all. So, the only item I brought was my baby carrier, and nothing else.
That meant I couldn’t set him down (no towel), find a shady spot (no umbrella), or even grab a quick snack. To no surprise, our walk was over quicker than I anticipated.
Beach essentials for baby
Bringing a baby to the beach is more nuanced than you would think. Not only do you still have the responsibility of taking care of your child, but it’s also an environment that usually isn’t close to home (or convenience).
Now I know better. Over the years and three kids later, I’ve perfected the art of packing for the beach. I bring just enough to make our visit comfortable, but not too much that I can’t carry all our gear.
Below are the best baby beach gear to pack for your next beach vacation or outing:
1. Baby sunscreen
I’m not a fan of applying sunscreen, especially at the beach. It’s gooey, doesn’t spread as easily as lotion, and seems to collect sand bits no matter how careful you are. But I’ve also returned home fried from a beach outing because I hadn’t reapplied the stuff.
So now I bring sunscreen for myself and my kids, even when I think my beach outing will be a short one.
One trick you can do is to set the timer on your phone to however many minutes your sunscreen offers protection. If your sunscreen offers one hour of protection, set your timer and reapply it on yourself and your baby at the one hour mark. And get one with a high SPF that can protect against both UVA and UVB sun rays.
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2. Sun protection
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One thing is certain at the beach: you likely won’t find any shade and may need to bring your own. Try to provide your baby with plenty of opportunities to sit in the shade so she isn’t under the sun too long. A few ideas include:
- A beach umbrella
- A beach tent (save yourself the trouble and get a pop up one, trust me)
- Hats for you and the baby
- Baby sunglasses (if your little one tolerates them)
3. A place to sit
Like shade, the beach doesn’t come with places to sit—at least, not comfortably, or for long. Instead, make sure you pack something to put your baby in. A beach tent works great, as does a beach blanket or towel.
One smart item you can bring to the beach is a large portable play area. It provides a safe play area for her and can be set up in seconds.
It also sits slightly above the ground on legs, making sand less likely to get inside. Because no matter how often I’ve tried to keep sand away from beach towels and tents, it still somehow sneaks in. An elevated play area makes that less likely.
And make sure your chairs and play areas are lightweight and foldable, making them easy items to bring to the beach. It should last through many outings, from the beach to the park.
The beach provides plenty of entertainment as it is, but nothing beats baby beach toys to make the day more fun. Beach essentials for baby include a beach bag with a bucket, shovel, rake, and sand sifter.
Bring her favorite toys too, at least those you don’t mind bringing out and about and which are easily washable. Familiar toys can make anxious babies feel comforted, especially if they don’t take to the beach right away.
Place them inside the play area or tent to make sure they don’t get lost or get too much sand and water on them.
5. Cleaning items
The first few times I went to the beach, I cringed when I realized I had forgotten my hand sanitizer again.
Like many beaches, bathrooms aren’t always kept spotless, much less stocked with soap or towels. Hand sanitizer keeps your hands clean after bathroom use, before eating, or after a diaper change.
Add baby wipes to your beach necessities too, and not just for diaper changes! These make for quick clean hands and faces. And finally, I like to bring a roll of paper towels as all-purpose wipes, from post-meal messes to dusting sandy hands.
6. Towels and a change of clothes
Your baby won’t exactly swim in the ocean, but she might dip her feet in the water, making towels a must on beach outings.
Pack a set of clothes in the diaper bag to change into afterward, too. You might decide to change her diaper and realize it’s better to dress her in fresh clothes instead of back into a swimsuit. And of course, bring diapers and diaper cream along with the clothes.
7. Food and hydration
Depending on your baby’s age, the food you bring can include anything from baby puree to bananas and crackers. Regardless of what you pack, make sure you take into account any food she might need during her regular schedule.
A few other baby beach items to bring include:
- Ice packs with a cooler bag
- A bag to store trash
- Sippy cups or bottles
One trick is to give her snacks and a sippy cup in the play area or tent so she’s less likely to mix her meals with sand or drop her sippy cup on the ground.
8. Beach wagon
And of course, you’ll need a way to transport all these items from your vehicle to your final spot on the shores. A beach wagon makes it easier to load and pull these items.
Get one with wheels that can easily move through the hot sand. A regular wagon, while still helpful, can be more difficult to pull through the terrain. And not only are strollers difficult to push through sand, but don’t carry as many items as a wagon.
So, let’s recap with a list of baby beach essentials and must-haves to bring with you on your next beach day:
- Beach umbrella or tent
- Baby sun hat
- Beach towel or play area
- Sand toys
- Your baby’s favorite toys
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Paper towels
- Meals and snacks
- Ice packs
- Bags to store trash
- Sippy cup
- Beach wagon
I used to live a mere 15 minutes from the beach, so I took advantage of the coast with my family, especially in the right weather. Thankfully now I know exactly what to include in my beach packing list—including a place to set my kids down.
Get more tips:
- Children’s Books About the Beach
- Toddler Beach Essentials for Stress-Free Family Fun
- 30 (Realistic) Things to Do in Los Angeles with Kids
- Don’t Feel Guilty for Not Taking Many Photos of Your Kids
- 6 Unique Ways to Care for the Environment as a Family
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