12 Essentials To Bring To The Beach With Kids


Hello moms, are you like me?  You love going to the beach but at the same time, you dread going with kids because of all the stuff you need to bring, and the time you need to spend packing up and getting organized?  Because I’m a beach lover who loathes all the beach prep, I was thrilled when Nina from Sleeping Should Be Easy offered to write up 12 beach essentials we parents need to keep in mind.  Read on for her tips and feel free to share your own.  Happy beach time, xo Melissa

12 Essentials To Bring To The Beach With Kids

Imagine finally packing the kids into the van for a visit to the beach and your summer vacation ideas coming to life! You’ve loaded up your tote bag and brought the gear. But just as you toddle your way through the sand carrying your belongings with kids in tow, you realize you forgot—yet again—something you needed to bring.

Sure, you could get away without it and make do. But what if you could run through a simple list of fun stuff to bring to to the beach to make sure you don’t leave anything out?

Traveling with kids is never easy, even if you’re not going far! The other day, I wanted to take my kid for an impromptu beach outing, one of my favorite ideas for what to do this summer with kids. Living just 15 minutes away, I didn’t need to go “all out.” I’m talking essentials here, not packing a zillion coolers and the over-sized tent. Still, despite my goal to bring on the basics, I still managed to forget a few things.

So, as a reminder to myself just as much as a helpful guide to others, below are 12 must haves for what to bring to the beach:

  1. Quarters and cash: Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Except that was my first mistake: not bringing quarters or cash for parking. Most beach lots have parking spaces or at least meters in case you can’t score free street parking. In my case, I finally got lucky and scored free street parking but was about to sweat it when I realized I hadn’t come prepared.
  2. Sunscreen: Even if you slathered some on yourself and the kids at home, bring the sunscreen for extra protection.  And pop it in a ziplock bag so that it doesn’t squirt all over your bag nor get coated with sand.
  3. Beach towels: This is a must if you want a place for everyone to sit and not get sand all over. Bring at least two (these are the beach towels we have and are great doubled up).
  4. Towels to dry off: So, while I remembered to bring beach towels, I completely forgot to bring regular towels to dry off. Or, rather, I didn’t think it was necessary. I figured my kids wouldn’t swim in the waves, so they wouldn’t get wet, right? Nope. They still get wet, especially when a huge wave manages to splash them from the waist down.
  5. A change of clothes: Both adults and kids should have a change of clothes for said unexpected splashes and sand that won’t go away. I forgot to bring clothes even for the kids and, without a towel to dry them off, ended up placing wet kids back into the van.  Grumpy kids plus soggy seats equals mom fail, am I right?
  6. Sand toys: A must for the beach. Bring a set that includes a pail, several shovels, sifters and rakes, as well as shape-makers. Here’s an added tip: Bring a real shovel and bucket. I saw a family come prepared with a mini shovel and actual bucket, and I can’t tell you how smart I thought they were doing that.  Or here’s another easy peasy idea: throw some of your old tupperware into a grocery bag and bring that along.  It will make for fun elements of your kids sand castle.  Plus, the more sand tools around, the fewer arguments about who gets what, and the more peace for mom.
  7. Swim and regular diapers: Depending on whether your little ones will be in the water or not, remember to bring both diapers. Swim diapers work when they’re splashing in the water, and regular diapers for after they towel off and change.
  8. Wipes and paper towels: Not just for diaper changes, wipes are awesome for cleaning hands and faces, especially with all the sand. They’re also great for after snacks and other messes. And don’t bother with napkins or tissue paper – bring a roll of paper towels instead.
  9. Changing pad: Because changing a toddler on a sand-strewn beach towel just won’t cut it.  He’ll get sand in his clothes and you’ll be wishing you had yet another change for him.
  10. Tote bag with a zipper: I’m in love with my over-sized tote bag that fits everything I need for the beach. The best part? A zipper that keeps the sand away. I know I can plop my phone, changes of clothes and other items without worrying about getting sand or water in it.  If you’re extra careful, put your money and phone in a double ziplock sandwich bag.  That way, you won’t need worry about these items getting wet.
  11. Beach umbrella: Most beach outings involve blazing sun. Keep the kids’ skin cool and protected by bringing a beach umbrella. This is the one we have. It combines an umbrella and a tent, plus it folds compactly and weighs just five pounds.
  12. Snacks and drinks: Even if the beach has food stands, having snacks and drinks handy will help curb hungry appetites. Pack food that doesn’t need much handling, such as grapes, pretzels and crackers. And remember to pack water bottles and sippy cups as well as a Ziploc bag filled with small paper plates and plastic utensils.  If it’s particularly hot, fill the water bottles with ice cubes and your kids will be thanking you.

Visiting the beach isn’t as easy as, say, going to the park. You need to pack specific gear like sand toys and beach umbrellas. You have to account for circumstances like paying for parking or bringing a change of clothes. It’s easy to forget a few items when packing all your gear and bags.

With this beach packing list, you’ll have the basics covered for a fun family outing at the beach!

What are your beach essentials? What items have you forgotten to bring to the beach that you wished you hadn’t? Let us know in the comments!

Nina from Sleeping Should Be Easy
Nina is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn and play, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Download her free ebook, “Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom” for more tips.

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to check back for more! xo


  • legallyheidi

    OMG don’t forget the BABY POWDER 🙂 All of those things are absolutely right but so many moms in my group were raving about needing to bring baby powder because it dries out sand – we went to the beach recently and i brought it with – it makes drying off at the car a BREEZE. Highly recommend adding to your must-haves list 🙂

  • Not a packing tip, but more of a storage tip: Put your sunscreen in the cooler, so it goes on nice and cool!

  • It’s amazing and ridiculous how much stuff I have to take to the beach with little kids! But it does get easier when they’re older. Nevertheless, at any age, water, sunscreen, and snacks are a must. Toys too. They keep ’em busy.

    • I notice a huge difference too Lisa, with bringing stuff. The older they are, the easier it is. Even now I still can’t take my toddler twins to the beach alone because there’s just too much stuff to carry!

  • We are not regular beach goers so the quarters reminder is fabulous!

    • I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had them on me Jen lol.

  • I was going to add baby powder, but I see someone beat me to it! I have water bottles that are foldable (kind of like pouches) that I freeze before we head out. Then they defrost slowly and keep the other food cold too.

    • Dana, THAT is an awesome product! It doubles up as an ice pack. Genius!

  • Oh, I know it! We’re going tomorrow for a long beach weekend. Des is half potty trained and half not. Both kids need sunscreen and snacks and drinks. The dunes are nearly vertical and we have to walk the kids and the gear up and down them!
    So it’s nice to focus on 12 essentials.. and not much else!