10 Ingenious Beach Day Lifesavers Parents Should Never Leave Home Without
Going to the beach with kids is a whole different ballgame than when you used to lounge by yourself. Instead of bathing suit and novel, pack these ingenious must-haves, from moms who have nailed beachin' it with babes.
Two hats with velcro ties
Elizabeth, a mom of one, says that when you’re packing up your straw bag, toss in not one, but two, hats made of sun-protective fabric with Velcro ties to help protect your little one’s head, face, and neck from the sun. She notes this will keep it from flying away and if does because baby picks at it, you’ll have a second one to replace it. “It’s so important to keep baby’s head covered, and the Velcro ties help keep it on even with the ocean breeze,” she says.
Your days of ordering piña colada poolside are (temporarily) over. Now that you have babes, you’ll need to not only take note of your own hydration but of your children’s water intake, too. To make sure she always has water on hand, Liz Taylor suggests Swell Water Bottles, instead of packing a bunch of plastic ones. “This water bottle keeps drinks ice-cold, even if it is sitting in the hot sun all day. I also love that these bottles don’t sweat, so we can keep our sandwiches and fruit near them, without anything getting soggy or ruined in the cooler.” Not to mention they’re eco-friendly, BPA-free, and reusable.
Let’s face it mama, you might start the day off with each of your kids carrying their own pint-sized beach backpack, but in a few hours? They’ll be offloading it on you in a hot second. That’s why Jennifer Turner says bringing a beach wagon is a win-win for families. “You can find a portable, foldable wagon at Costco or Sam’s club, and they’re a must for the beach. These are perfect for sticking your cooler, beach bag, toys, and more and wheel it out on the beach. You don’t have to carry everything along with carrying a child or two. It makes beach life with kids easier,” she explains. Don’t forget these water safety tips before heading out.
Aloe vera lotion
Between splashing in and out of the ocean, rolling in sand and squirming away from you mid-tantrum, as much as you try to reapply their sunscreen, kids will get more vitamin D—and sun exposure—than you anticipate. Turner says that’s why she always packs aloe vera lotion for beach trips. Even if you don’t notice a sunburn when you’re back from sand castle building, she notes it’s not a bad idea to apply this lotion every night to keep their skin moisturized and prevent sun damage. (Psst: Don’t forget yourself, either!)
Extra zipper bag
Smart move, mom—you brought toys that kept them occupied enough so you can finish your book. But now that it’s time to pack it up and go to the hotel room? You’ll need something different than your single beach bag to tote it back. Bethany Coy has the solution to this: an extra bag with a zipper. “I use it for all of those sandy beach toys and sea shell collections. That way sand isn’t all in the car and we’re not bringing a massive amount of sand home,” she explains. One made of netting will help make sure you leave all that sand at the beach, where it belongs.
A cast net
Have adventurous children who aren’t about to take a nap, no matter how much you plead with them? Darlene Fiske says a fun adventure for the whole family is fishing, but with a packable cast net. “This little beach town find was the sole source of hours of play with the kids. It’s a circular net that you bundle up and throw out, like a lasso into the ocean—you cast it as far and as wide as you can and then pull in your catch! One summer we caught crab, fish, and even a shrimp! The kids would come running up from the beach to show us their finds. Pure joy,” she says. Here are some other fun beach games for the whole family.
Even if your kiddo is past diaper-wearing days, pack some baby powder for the road. Danielle Estrada explains that a few sprinkles will help remove all of the sand that sticks to their skin in a gentle way. That way when they’re having an epic meltdown under the umbrella because they feel “icky,” you can calm them down quickly.
Is there anything worse than shaking out your beach towel at the end of a long day, with the sand blowing back into your face? Yep: Shaking out the towels for your whole family, too. Estrada says that’s why she won’t head to the shore without a Gathre mat. “They make beautiful leather play mats that make a day on the sand with babies much more comfortable. You no longer have to worry about wet, messy beach towels. These stay dry and you can wipe any sand or snacks right off it,” she says.
Ever see a mom with an inflatable pool on the beach and wonder why someone would pack that when they have a big ocean for their kids to dive into? Meghan Ely thought the same thing, but then learned that her child wasn’t quite the salt-water baby. “Little did I know this fun fact: not all kids love the beach—especially the sand and ocean. I quickly realized that my kid fell in this camp, and if we wanted to spend any time with our family at the beach, we’d need a small pool to keep him happy. Better yet, it kept him in one spot so I didn’t have to worry about him roaming,” she says.
It’s a no-brainer to bring sunscreen in your beach bag, a mineral-based one is your safest bet for babies and younger kids. And if you’re going somewhere tropical and giving your kids a glimpse into the sea life below, you might want to double-check your ingredients. Bridget, Swinney, RD learned an important lesson while vacationing with her kids about sunscreen and the environment. “A few years ago I was really ashamed when the family went on a snorkeling excursion and another participant asked what kind of sunscreen we brought. Of course, it was the run-of-the-mill type—not friendly to ocean reefs. Since then I only take a mineral-based sunscreen with us. Why? I want to keep our kids sunburn-free but I don’t want to add to the damage that’s already been done to coral reefs. Setting an example for taking care of the planet is one of my goals as a parent. Educating my kids about chemicals we use in everyday life is a way to pay it forward for the planet!” We’re fans of the Raw Elements Eco-Formula line. Here’s why kids and adults should never use the same sunscreen.