A Beach Day with Kids: The Essentials You Need to Pack
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
21 things you’ll need to bring for some family fun at the beach
A day at the beach with your kids is quite a different experience to those relaxing beach days you used to enjoy with your significant other before you became parents.
It probably won’t be as relaxing, for a start, and they probably won’t involve as many seaside mojitos as before.
But you’re all sure to have lots of fun. Both young and old love a day at the beach: splashing in the salty water, running along the sand, and munching through ice creams and other beach snacks.
Of course, no day out with kids is complete without you having to pack a lot of items, often including the kitchen sink. A beach day is no different.
To make things easier, try to pack everything you need the night before when your kids are in bed. That way, you’ll be able to hear yourself think as you consider what you need to bring.
There are lots of things your family will need at the beach, so here’s a list of essentials to help you out.
1. A large beach bag
You’re going to need to take a lot of things to the beach with you. And to do that, you’re going to need a large beach bag to carry them all in.
If you’re on the hunt for a suitable beach bag, try to find one that’s made using a waterproof material. This will keep everything inside dry and will make it easier to wipe down.
You should also consider buying one with a zip to help keep the sand out.
2. A bag for rubbish
A day at the beach can be a lot of fun, but it can also generate large amounts of rubbish.
You can use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about caring for the environment and responsibility for their actions. Nobody enjoys going to a beach that’s covered in plastic wrappers and empty bottles.
Make sure you treat our planet with the respect it deserves and take a bag with you where you can dispose of all your rubbish. A plastic bag will suffice and it can be easily packed into your beach bag.
3. An extra bag for wet clothes
Bags, bags, bags. You’ll also want to take a bag with you for storing all your family’s wet, sandy clothes after your beach day comes to an end.
Again, a plastic bag will do the trick, and it will keep anything else next to it from getting wet too.
4. Sun cream
Now, when it comes to a day trip to the beach, there’s nothing more important than your family’s skincare so you’ll need suitable sun protection.
The best item in this regard is sun cream. Yes, your kids might scream and fight as you slather them in the stuff, to the point that you’ll feel like you’re wrestling a baby octopus, but you should use it.
Always remember to apply sun cream before you head to the beach, and to reapply frequently over the course of the day.
5. Sun hats
Another great way to help keep cool and protect you from the sun is to wear a hat.
You’ll find many types in the shops: baseball caps, bucket hats, straw hats, hats with Velcro straps or cords that tie under the chin…
Hopefully you’ll be able to pinpoint one your child likes. And get them to wear it. The parenting battles never end.
Pack a spare, just in case somebody loses theirs or it blows away.
Don’t forget to protect your eyesight from the sun too. Spending a day at the beach with the sun’s rays bouncing off the sand and sea can be harmful to your eyes.
They’ll help you avoid sore heads too, caused by all that scrunching up of your eyes. I can’t say they’ll stop any sore heads caused by noisy children though…
7. SPF sun protective swimsuits
Nowadays, you can even buy swimsuits with in-built sun protection.
These are well worth it. In addition, if you buy one that covers more of the body (like a wetsuit), you’ll have less of your child’s skin to cover with sun cream. And shorter sun cream battles as a result.
8. A beach umbrella
You should always try to make sure your family can access some shade during the day as you might not feel like being out in the blazing sun the whole time.
If the beach you’re going to doesn’t have shaded areas with trees or sun loungers with sunshades for hire, take your own beach umbrella.
You might need to take more than one to provide more shade, depending on how many of you are going.
9. Lots of food and snacks
Do you ever feel like there are days when your kids never stop eating? Well, you can be sure that if you don’t pack much food for your beach trip, you’ll kids will have one of those days and act as if you haven’t fed them for a week.
Make sure you bring things like sandwiches but pack everyone’s individually. That way, you won’t have a stray set of sandy fingers seasoning everyone’s lunch.
The same goes for snacks. If they aren’t already in individual packets (like crisps and fruit pouches) or individual pieces of fruit (bananas and apples, for example), then storing them in small Tupperware boxes is the way to go.
10. Plenty of fluids
A hot, sunny day at the beach calls for plenty of fluids for the whole family as it’s extremely important to stay hydrated.
So make sure you pack plenty of water and juice for everyone.
11. A cooler bag
If you want to keep your food fresh and your drinks cold, take a cooler bag with you.
A soft one is best, as it’s easier and lighter to carry than a solid cool box.
Cooler bags are easy to clean and they keep the sand out thanks to their zip closures.
Add a few ice packs to your cooler bag to keep things cold. Or if you don’t have space, consider freezing a bottle of water the night before. This will keep everything inside the bag cool and will provide you with ice-cold water as it slowly melts.
I promise this is the last bag you’ll need.
12. Purse or wallet
In all the packing madness, don’t forget to take your purse or wallet. You might need to buy some extra food or drink when you get to the beach, or you might fancy an ice cream.
Who knows? Maybe your kids will even allow you to enjoy 15 minutes of relaxation and you can order that mojito after all.
13. Beach towels for everyone
It goes without saying that every family member will need their own beach towel, whether it’s for lounging on the sand or drying off after a swim in the sea.
You can buy extra-absorbent towels, extra-large towels, beach blankets, and kids’ towels that they can wear (complete with hood and sleeves) to keep them warm as they dry off.
Obviously, this depends on the age of your child or children, but you might need to pack nappies. Plenty of supermarkets sell nappies for swimming that are perfect for a day at the beach.
Make sure you pack enough for the day, with a few spares.
15. Portable potty
If you’re in the middle of potty training, or you’ve not long managed to get your child to stop using nappies, it might be an idea to take a portable potty with you.
That way, you won’t have to worry about trying to find a toilet nearby, and then baulk at the ghastly state public toilets can often be left in.
16. Baby wipes
It doesn’t matter what age your kids are, baby wipes or hand wipes are often a lifesaver. So stuff a packet or two in your bag to keep your children’s hands and faces clean, and to help with the clean up after eating all those snacks and food you’ve packed.
17. Toys and books
Kids won’t need many toys at the beach. A bucket and spade will usually suffice.
Older kids might enjoy reading in between dips in the water so make sure you take a book or two along.
And don’t forget to take your own book. You never know, you might get some time to read a few pages if your other half agrees to keep an eye on the kids for a while.
18. Armbands and floats
Younger children will enjoy the beach even more if you take along some armbands. They’ll feel much safer with these on.
You can also pack other kinds of floats: rubber rings, lilos, giant unicorns…
19. A paddling pool
It might be an idea to pack a paddling pool if you’ve got space in your car.
Littler children don’t necessarily enjoy going in the sea so a paddling pool can be a good idea for them. Fill it up with some seawater and then let them loose. That way, you’ll be able to keep an eye on them right beside you.
They can also benefit from the shade of your parasols too.
And the paddling pool can also serve as a place where everyone can clean their sandy hands before getting stuck into your food.
20. Clothes to change into
After a day spent at the beach, your clothes will be wet and sandy. Make sure you pack a change of clothes for everyone to wear on the way home.
21. Baby powder
Last but not least, pack a bottle of baby powder. Yes, you read that right.
Baby powder is great for getting the sand off. Just sprinkle a little bit on your kids’ feet and you’ll see that sand magically disappear when you brush it off. No more complaints of sand still in shoes and between toes.
You’re all set for the beach!
That’s it! My list of essentials you’ll need for a great day out at the beach with your kids.
All that’s left to do is hit the sand, build some sandcastles, and jump into the sea. Oh, and order that mojito.
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