Baby sunscreen: Beyond the fact that babies have such sensitive skin and should be covered in the sun at all times, many babies may prove to be allergic to certain types of sunscreen. Sunscreens made for babies are gentler and still effective, provided they are broad spectrum (which means they block out different types of the sun’s rays) and they are SPF +50 or higher.
An umbrella or small beach tent: Keep your baby out of the sun’s harmful rays for much of their first year, when their skin is still very delicate. Set up a large beach umbrella or small tent for shade. Most are lightweight and portable, and can also be used for older children.
Diaper trash bags: Your baby will go through diapers just as quickly on the beach as they do at home! As trash cans or bathrooms may not be readily available, always carry diaper trash bags with you to keep things sanitary.
Sunscreen wipes/spray sunscreen: Your toddler will most likely be squirmy and excited at the beach, and it might be difficult to hold her still long enough to apply (and reapply) regular lotion. Try wipes and sprays. They work well for fast applications and dry quickly, making it less of a hassle to cover your child in sunscreen every hour.
Swim diapers: Regular diapers soak in water and dissolve, providing little protection in the water. Make sure you have swim diapers for playing in the surf – they’ll keep your toddler comfortable and the beach sanitary.
Hat: Look for something that feels good and (more importantly) stays on. A hat that ties loosely under the chin or comes with a soft elastic chinstrap works best.
Umbrella or a small beach tent: The sun and water take a lot out of anyone, especially toddlers. Your kids will be exhausted before long! Make sure they have a cool, shady place to nap.
Life vests: The beach can be crowded, dangerous, and unpredictable. Your toddler can be in the surf before you even know he’s gone. Be prepared by keeping kids suited up when around water. A life vest is the safest option, preferably one with buckles, a leg strap, and a floating neck & head collar. Swimsuits with vests attached also work well.
Beach toys: Being loaded down with supplies is enough of a hassle, so keep toys to a minimum. Kids will find plenty of entertainment on the beach. Shovels, buckets, and a small backpack to collect treasures and shells in will be more than enough.
Water: It is way too easy for children to become dehydrated at the beach. Have water available and make sure they drink it at frequent intervals. Be aware of your kids’ limits and make sure they take a break from the sunshine.
Sunscreen: Sun damage to skin in childhood can never be reversed, so make avoiding it a priority. Lather suncreen on head to toe, and remember to reapply about every hour. Bringing a variety of sunscreen is always a good idea, including sunscreen designed specifically for kids’ faces, which takes into account extra sensitive eyes.
Water shoes: Sand and surf aren’t the only things on the beach (think rocks, shells, trash, and things you can’t see under the sand and water). Water shoes can be invaluable and can save your child from injury.
Life vests: All children – even strong swimmers with plenty of experience in the water – should wear life vests, particularly in the ocean. Accidents can happen quickly and without warning, so always make sure you can see your child in the water.
First Aid supplies: Your kids may step on broken shells, get stung by jellyfish, and come in contact with dead or poisonous sea life, among other things. Be prepared for accidents and injuries by having a first aid kit with medication, waterproof Band-aids, Neosporin, a disposable ice-pack, anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizers.
Waterproof camera: Nothing ruins a vacation like watching your entire cache of vacation photos sink beneath the waves. Invest in a floating waterproof camera for documenting your seaside memories, or look for one with a wristband option.
Beach snacks and meals: Keep it simple and filling – nuts, finger foods, frozen yogurt sticks, sandwiches, etc. Have plenty on hand as the sun and surf makes everyone hungrier, and remember to keep perishables out of the heat. Fruits and veggies are particularly great snacks because they are healthy, hydrating, don’t spoil easily, and don’t generate a ton of trash. Try packing frozen grapes or berries.
Rules: The most important thing to bring to the beach? Clear rules for your children. Having predetermined check-in times and meeting places is always a good idea, as is discussing a few what-if scenarios. No one likes emergency situations, but discussing them beforehand can actually make your time at the beach a little more relaxing.