What to Bring to the Beach With a Toddler

toddlers at the beach playing in the sand

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A List of Items to Pack for a Day at the Beach With Your Kids

Taking your toddler or young child to the beach can sound super overwhelming!  But, whether you are on a beach vacation or going to spend the day at the beach, bay, river, or lake, all you really need is the following list! 

When you know what to bring to the beach for your kids, you can relax and enjoy the experience so much more.

I have successfully spent many days with toddlers at the beach and we had tons of fun and everyone went home happy!

toddler building a sandcastle

The following is a detailed description of what I pack to take to the beach.  Also, for those that just want to get the list you can read on to find a printable beach toddlers’ checklist!

Bring a Wagon to the Beach

I love my collapsible folding wagon that looks like it’s made for off-roading!  I think I got it at Costco, and it was on sale, but there are lots of similar options out there!  I would suggest a sturdy wagon that has large wheels like this one at Amazon, so it won’t have too much trouble on soft sand.

This wagon is great for hauling all your stuff from the car to your spot on the beach.  I can usually get everything in one trip, which is really helpful when it’s just me and my girls!

By the way, these wagons are great for parks, parties, concerts in the park, and some people will use them at the zoo too.  They have a ton of uses!

The Actual Beach Bag I Pack

beach bag on the sand with beach items

So, I usually pack everything into the wagon, but it is still best to have some sort of bag.  I love my backpack to haul all my kid’s stuff most days, but I don’t love having it get all sandy!

For the beach, I like more of a tote style bag that can hold most of the following things.  I have a really great tote from Thirty-One (checkout www.mythirtyone.com).  This bag from Amazon also looks great!  I love that it has cupholders and zip pockets too.  Also, it’s totally made for the sand.

I use the bag for loose dry snacks like granola bars, my wallet, keys and phone, towels, clothes, sunscreen and all the other small things on the list below.

A Swimsuit, Change of Clothes, Sunglasses, and Possibly Swim Diapers are Great for the Beach

Obviously, you need a bathing suit for the beach, but don’t forget that you also want to bring something to wear when it’s time to drive home!

I think having a set of clothes you just leave in the car is best so pick something comfortable and versatile. 

Then grab them as you are getting ready to head home and change after getting all that sand off.  See below for a true beach must have to help remove sand.

I might also bring a second change of clothes, just in case.

little girl in hat and sunglasses

Kids love to use their sunglasses, though they probably won’t wear them for too long at first!  Always make sure that your kids and your own sunglasses are 100% UV protective!

If your toddler is in diapers, then I recommend a handful of swim diapers too.

Sunscreen, a Beach Goers Must-Have

Sunscreen is an absolute must have beach item for toddlers and kids.  I usually take two or three kinds with me.  Each one has a different purpose!

Make sure to apply full body sunscreen before anyone even gets to the beach and wants to start playing right away.  Also, it is way easier to apply sunscreen before any sand gets on the skin!

When you are looking for what kind of sunscreen to buy make sure you get a mineral-based sunscreen, with the active ingredient titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

For all the important details on sunscreen be sure to read How to Choose Sunscreen for Your Kids.

Spray on Sunscreen

Yes, you can find mineral spray on sunscreen!  It is thicker and more whitish, but it sprays on and works really well.  We use Babo Botanicals.

The benefit of spray on sunscreen is just how easy it is to use, but I don’t apply this to faces!

Also, truthfully, I use the spray on sunscreen only sometimes.  The sandy beach is one example of a time to consider the spray because it’s so easy to use. 

Spray sunscreen does have some potential risks.  It has been stated that the spray can cause kids and adults to breathe in sunscreen particles, which can be dangerous.  See www.ewg.org for more details.

Lotion Sunscreen

I think that lotion mineral based sunscreen works best.  You can rub it in and make sure that your kids are totally covered!

I tend to use lotion sunscreen before we even leave for the beach (this works if you live pretty close).  I use Cotz mineral sunscreen because it is dermatologist recommended and is not as thick as some brands, so it is easier to apply.  There are lots of options for good lotion sunscreen out there!

hand pouring sunscreen on other hand

Then if I reapply at the beach, I just use the spray if they are too sandy to apply lotion.

Brush on Sunscreen

Brush on mineral sunscreen is the best thing ever!!  Seriously, if you only take one thing away from this article, check out brush-on mineral sunscreen!

Brush on sunscreen works really well on faces, in the hair at the part lines, or if your toddler doesn’t have much hair on their whole head!

You can also safely use this on their whole body, but be careful you don’t want the brush to get all sandy and wet.  So, this is for dry and clean skin only!

Brush on Sunscreen

My absolute favorite is Colorescience brush on sunscreen.  It is a little bit pricey, but it lasts forever.  This stuff also works incredibly well!

I think you can also find other brush on sunscreen at www.amazon.com.

Sun Hat

The next item in my beach bag is a sun hat for everyone.  There are tons of cute sunhats for toddlers and kids!  I have found some great ones at REI, Costco and Amazon.

These sun hats are great as they are cute, comfortable and have the drawstring to keep it on.

My kids are way more likely to wear their hats if they help pick them out!  Oh, and if I wear my hat, they also keep theirs on way better.  Remember, our kids want to do what they see us do!

Picnic Blanket and Shade

I always bring towels of course, but I prefer my waterproof picnic blanket to sit on.  It is way more comfortable when it gets wet because it dries easily and the sand wipes off well too.

shade tent at the beach

I strongly recommend a shade umbrella or pop up shade tent.  It is good to get a break from the sunshine for a few minutes, especially when you’re little! I have a Lightspeed Quickshelter pop up sun shade!  This thing is great for the beach, but you can easily set it up for other picnics, camping, parks, etc.  I especially like that it folds small and is easy to put in the wagon.


Towels are totally necessary for the beach.  I always bring an extra towel for each kid, especially if you are using them to sit on. 

beach towels

Then at the end of your day, you can use the clean and dry towel to bundle them up!

Food is Another Beach Day Must-Have.  Snacks, Meals and a Cooler to Pack it in

If you take little kids anywhere, you already know traveling with food is absolutely necessary.  When you are headed to the beach, it’s no different.

Remember to pack extra snacks.  With all the playing and running around at the beach your kids will be hungrier than usual. 

Also, the beach is a place where snacks can fall in the sand, seagulls can steal snacks (my daughter had a seagull take a piece of sandwich right out of her hands!), and food gets dropped in the water.  So, bring extra food to account for some lost food.

Before you head out, decide if you will be at the beach for a few hours and snacks are sufficient or if you will be there for the day and a meal should be packed.

Avoiding hungry people keeps everyone happier!

Mini Cooler

It is best to pack all the food items together in a little cooler.  If you are going to only bring snacks, I like to use a large collapsible, insulated adult lunch bag for all the perishable foods. 

However, that might not be quite big enough for all the snacks and some might just end up in the beach bag.

Orange Soft sided cooler

For a longer day, and if you want all the food to stay together, a larger soft cooler insulated picnic bag works really well!  I have this cooler and it works for beach days, picnics, road trips, camping and many more things.


I suggest pre- packing easy to eat snacks for the day!  I like to pack servings of crackers, string cheese, nuts or trail mix (if your child is still practicing eating hard foods like this, avoid them for a beach day), fruits and some veggies.

Another easy way to eat snacks at the beach is food pouches, like applesauce, fruit, and veggie pouches!  Your kids are less likely to get sand in the food when it comes from a pouch.

Lunch or Dinner Meal

If you are going to be at the beach for a long time, make sure to bring lunch (or even dinner!) for everyone.  You can also pick up lunch on the way, which is a favorite treat for my kids.  We like to get deli sandwiches and enjoy those at the beach. 

Otherwise, pack a meal just like you would for a picnic!  Be sure to add one or two extra items as compared with eating at home.  Just in case everyone is extra hungry after all the excitement.

Water bottles (Klean Kanteen)

I am a huge fan of Klean Kanteen water bottles for any situation.  These water bottles are a little expensive, but they work really well and last forever. 

Make sure to have fresh cold water for everyone!

Wipes are Helpful at the Beach

I bring baby wipes everywhere.  I still use them, and my kids have been out of diapers for more than a year!

Wipes are great after eating, to help keep faces a little bit clean.  Wipes are also good for wiping hands prior to eating.

However, don’t expect baby wipes to remove sand from your kids!  That simply doesn’t work, trust me.

Beach Day Toys: Shovel and Sand Toys, Frisbee, Ball

I suggest bringing a small adult shovel if you are bringing a beach umbrella.  This way you can dig a hole for the umbrella pole.

beach toys in the sand

For your kids, I would bring a beach pail and shovel set!  The ones that have a few different digging toys are awesome!  Let’s face it, toddlers and young kids just love to dig in the sand.

Other fun toys include a beach ball and a frisbee.

Baby Powder a Special Must-Have

Baby powder is a must-have for sand removal from your toddler, young kids and yourself it you want!

I would suggest having the kids get out of the water for several minutes before you are actually ready to go home so they can dry off.

baby powder on a hand

Once you have air-dried for a little while, apply a generous amount of baby powder (you can also use cornstarch, a natural product free of talc) to the sandy skin.  I usually do this back by the car!

The baby powder will separate the sand from the skin, and you should be able to gently rub or wipe off the sand with your hands or a dry soft cloth. It’s like magic for sand removal and a comfortable, less sandy car ride home!

Beach Chairs- OPTIONAL

To be honest, I don’t really bother with my beach chair too often.  If I’m sitting, I usually use the picnic blanket or shade area!

That being said, if you prefer a chair to sit on, I suggest you use a folding camp chair for ease of carry in the wagon.  They make some really cute small kids camping chairs too.

Consider How to Keep your Toddler Safe at the Beach

The beach is a super fun place but, like most fun adventures, it has some risks!

If your toddler or young child doesn’t know how to swim, always be right there when they are near the water.  Also, swim floaties or life jackets can help our kids stay safe if they get too deep in the water or you want to swim, but they are not substitutes for adult supervision!

parent and baby playing in the waves at the beach

Another thing to think about at the beach are the waves and possible rip tides.  Make sure you are watching the waves, you can even teach your kids to watch the waves and learn to avoid being pushed over! 

If there is a rip tide, stay back out of the deeper water and paddle in the waves.  There are usually signs or the lifeguards will inform everyone if there is a rip current.

And finally, watch out for any dangerous critters like jellyfish, sting rays, and other animals that can bite or sting.  Most likely you will be paddling in the shallow water and be fine, but just be aware of your surroundings.

Head on out to the Beach

So, even though it can be a challenge, don’t be hesitant to take your little ones to the beach!  It’s fun to get out there and enjoy the water, sand, and sun with your kids! 

Take this list, add any extra things your child requires and go for it!!

Also, if you would like to print this list of kids’ items to bring to the beach please go for it!

If you are going to the beach on a road trip vacation, be sure you go check out my article on how to road trip with young kids.

See you at the beach!

What is your favorite item to bring to the beach with your toddler?  Let me know in the comments below!

A list of items to pack for a day at the beach with your kids

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