The Ultimate Toddler Beach Packing List

Traveling to the beach with a toddler can be fun. You need to plan and prepare for it, though. Bring the right things and think about what could go wrong so you have a smooth trip. It takes some work, but if you follow my tips and use the packing list I made, you will have an awesome vacation! Let's find out how to make beach travel with toddlers easy.

family of three on the beach while mother is pregnant with second child

Toddler Beach Essentials for a Stress-Free Family Vacation

Beach Bag or Beach Tote

You will need a beach bag with plenty of compartments and pockets to keep your things organized.

Look for one that is made from waterproof material so your things stay dry.

You may also want to bring an insulated tote for drinks, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It is nice to have a cold drink when it is hot outside, especially for toddlers who like "ice-cold water."

An insulated bag can help keep beverages cool. It takes up less space than a cooler, so it is easier to take with you. You can place ice packs at the bottom of the tote to make your drinks stay cold for several more hours!

Sand-Free Beach Mat

When going to the beach with toddlers, it is important to bring a beach mat to keep sand away. This mat won't let the sand go through it. It is made of a material that doesn't let the sand "stick" to it.

So you can easily wipe off any sand that gets on it. The mat also has anchors and pockets. You can fill the pockets with sand to keep them in place on windy days.

parents with toddler on the beach

Nontoxic and Reef-Friendly Sunscreen

This one seems obvious, but when you're chasing your toddler and grabbing the bag for the beach, it's easy to forget where you put the SPF.

I had one in the hotel room, one in the beach bag, and one in the car. That way, we were covered wherever we went.

We used this spray sunscreen and covered his body in the room before we put swimsuits on for the day and swore by this cream sunscreen as well.

toddler on the beach

Rash Guards

As an added layer of sun protection, we put Mason in one-piece or two-piece rashguard sets. They have UV protection in the material itself.

I learned that the sun protection material breaks down over time, so I invested in new rashguards (instead of my normal 2nd hand shopping) from Hanna Andersson. Their pieces are pricey but I wait for their 40% off sale and then stock up because I love the quality so much.

This Hannah Andersson spin-off brand is a bit cheaper and available on Amazon!

Swim Diapers and Changing Supplies

We use these swim diapers plus a portable changing pad. I particularly recommend the styles with snaps on both sides.

We put a regular diaper inside when Mason was not in the water and just playing. This made for easy diaper changes on the beach under our tent.

We would throw a diaper and wipes in the beach bag when we went down, so we didn't have to go all the way back to the room for diaper changes.

Be sure to bring a bag for dirty diapers as well.

Beach Towels

If you are staying at a resort or vacation home, they will probably give you towels for the beach. So don't worry about packing beach towels.

However, if you're going to a public beach or you want one with your toddler's favorite character on it then make sure to bring a beach towel. I also love oversized neutral super soft towels!

mom holding toddler son on the beach


Snacks are necessary if your toddler is anything like mine, especially during beach travel. In the car, we packed a cooler of food and snacks so we could eat in the car and then head right to the beach when we arrived. This was great and helped us prevent a meltdown.

When at the hotel, we kept tons of healthy fruit and snacks in the mini-fridge and would bring a couple of snacks to the beach with us each day.

We would have breakfast leftovers or make sandwiches in the room for lunch. We also kept whole milk from breakfast in our fridge for bedtime.

Our favorite travel snacks are these bars, and we also loved these squeezable fruit & veggies pouches.

Baby Powder

We were lucky to have a shower at the beach's edge this year, but the baby powder trick still saved us multiple times while taking a toddler on any beach travel.

All you do is apply the baby powder to your feet and legs, and the sand falls right off. It's magic! Make sure to use a talc-free baby powder on your little one.

toddler sitting in beach chair on the beach

Bring a Toddler Sized Chair

We borrowed a toddler beach chair from a friend; it was a great item to have at the beach.

Mason loved sitting in the chair to eat, play and take in the experience. We would take the beach chair close to the water, and he had so much fun getting acclimated to the waves that way.

father playing with toddler son on the beach

Sun Hat

It is important to protect babies and toddlers from the sun. The best way to do this is with a hat. There are special hats with UPF 50+ that are perfect for the beach. Another good choice is a baseball-style hat with UPF 50+.

Water Shoes

Don’t allow your little ones to walk on the hot sand! Water shoes are a great way to protect their feet and allow them to easily walk around on the beach and get in the water.

It was perfect to have velcro sandals we could slip on for the walk to and from the beach and pool and easy throw in the beach bag. We also enjoyed being able to easily rinse the shoes at the beach and in the room.

Life Jackets

If your child likes to be in the water, you should bring a life jacket or swim vest. Most beaches and pools do not have these items for kids.

Be sure to get one that fits properly and has the correct Coast Guard rating.

This life jacket is the best for toddler sizing and is coast guard approved.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is an essential item to bring with toddler beach travel. You can find pre-made kits online or build your own.

It's important to have the basics like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and insect repellent. Make sure you research how to handle jellyfish stings too!

Dry Bag and Change of Clothes

Dry bags are great for toddler beach travel. We use ours to store wet clothes and towels when we leave the beach. They are also great for keeping your phone, wallet and keys safe from sand and water.

Pack a change of clothes in case your toddler gets soaked from playing in the ocean or running around on a hot day. This is also helpful if they decide to play in the mud or have an unfortunate accident.

Beach Wagon

Most strollers don’t perform well on sand so instead, opt for a collapsable beach wagon.

If you’re willing to make the invest, some even come with a covering so your kiddo can get some additional shade from the wagon itself.

We bought this wagon, and I am eying this one as well.

mother holding toddler son on the beach

Quick Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Babies

Stay in a Family-Friendly Hotel

The most significant shift in our beach vacation this year with a toddler was that Mason was mobile.

Last year our beach experience was more sedentary with him as a baby so this year we had to plan for more movement. Toddler beach travel is so much fun as they are more exploratory and for us, days revolved around sand play.

For reference, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach, and it was a fantastic experience. The resort is perfect for toddler beach travel. They have a restaurant on-site and a pool and wading pool for little ones, where we spent every afternoon.

The beach access is private and close to the hotel parking, so it was easy to cart things from the room or car right to the beach.

father playing with toddler son on the beach

Bring the Right Toys

Last year we brought tons of toys and carted them around a big bag. This year we narrowed it down to a few beach toys (bucket, shovel, scoop) and then Mason's core vehicle collection.

In fact, this made our beach trek lighter, and the cars were perfect for throwing in my purse for dinners out. This was a great tip from a follower. Bring special "car" toys that are new or refreshed to help with the car time and make it more exciting.

mother and toddler son sitting in beach chairs under the shade

Use a Beach Umbrella or Beach Tent

Shade is essential for toddlers at the beach. We brought this beach tent with us last year and it worked great, but if your hotel has umbrellas for rent, I highly recommend the splurge. We rented the umbrella having it already set up for us when we got down to the beach was amazing.

I also recommend this toddler beach hat with ties and a neck covering.

The Shibumi Shade is also a splurge but truly life-changing. It’s so innovative, easy to set up, and creates shade for the full family.

Bring a Collapsible Beach Wagon

The shoreline can be a long walk away from beachfront lodgings, and the last thing you want is to have your hands full while attempting to wrangle toddlers.

Let me tell you firsthand that a collapsible beach wagon for the beach is an absolute must-have when bringing little ones along! Make sure it's specifically designed with large wheels that can roll through the sand for optimal convenience!

Freeze Water Bottles

Water is essential when out in the heat, and freezing our water bottles helped us stay hydrated while on the beach.

We brought our own water bottles, and sippy cups and would fill and freeze them each night. They were SO refreshing as they thawed throughout the day.

Toddler Beach Travel Tips

Bottom Line

Now that you know what to pack for a beach vacation, planning your beach trip will be much easier. Have fun and make memories with your young kids in the sun, sand, and ocean - that's all that matters!

Download my toddler beach packing list to make your next beach vacation a breeze.



Breast cancer survivor, lover of style, beauty and all things pink! Inspiring you to thrive through adversity. 


Homepage_Life Lately header

Posts You May Like

1 Comment

    Melisande Balleste

    July 19, 2021Reply

    Love number 6 and I use water shoes also since I was kid also. Thank you again for this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *