Tips for a Successful Trip to the Beach with Kids
Summer is upon us and I’m getting very excited to start visiting the beach again. Both my kids have been beach and water babies since birth. My daughter was a November baby so thankfully I just hit the six month mark come June and could slather her in sunscreen. My son was a late May baby so he spent his first summer under a beach umbrella (often in his carseat). He got some of the best naps ever on the beach!
My parents have a house close to the beach which means that almost every sunny weekend from June to the beginning of September, we are at the beach. I consider myself a bit of an expert now and hope some of my tips will turn your beach days with young kids into much more enjoyable days.
Tips for Successful Beach Days with Kids
Go early. We are typically on the beach by 9:30. That way if the kids melt and need a nap, we have the option of attempting to get them to sleep on the beach or if that fails, going home and feeling like we got a decent amount of time playing in the water and sand.
Have good coverage. 5 years ago, we bought a Pacific Playthings tent and it’s still going strong. Both my kids have taken naps in the tent, played in the tent and even gone potty in the tent (see next bullet). On windy days we do put rocks and/or the cooler in the corner to hold it down. Kids from all over the beach tend to flock to it to play inside. And it dries quickly so if something spills, you can dunk the whole thing in the ocean and it will be dry within 30 minutes.
Think about bathroom options. We bought a folding travel potty and bring this to the beach. When my kids have to use the potty and inevitably, they always do, they can either do so in the tent (after we quickly set-up the portable potty) or when the car is close by, they can do so in the back of the car. I find Hefty Baggies are the most consistently, reliable bags to use with this potty as they have never leaked (and we’ve used them quite a bit!). I keep those in one side pocket, wipes and toilet paper in the other side pocket.
Plan for hunger and thirst. A well stocked cooler is a must. Both kids get big water bottles packed with ice and a little water (since everything melts so quickly). The cooler is filled with sliced up oranges, whole apples, cheese sticks, grapes, juice pops (extras to share with their beach friends), chips and frozen Smucker’s Uncrustables. I love these because by lunch time they have thawed out and are ready to eat. I’ve contemplated trying to make these myself and freeze them but find the convenience just too good to pass up. A word of caution on food sold at the beach – once you introduce your kids to the ice cream truck or stand or food counter, they will ask for it every beach trip thereafter. I avoided it for a few years and regret eventually caving. Once those ice cream truck bells ring, my kids are suddenly no longer interested in the beach and instead opt to beg and plead for ice cream for the 20-minutes the truck lingers at the beach. It can really turn a fun day sour quickly!
Create a place to eat with limited sand exposure. We own these great beach tables. It took us many years to find these but they are the best beach tables out there. The kids put their water bottles in the holders and use the table for lunch time.
Don’t forget the obvious. Chairs for everyone (or inevitably your kids will take yours), towels, lots of sunscreen (which we apply at home AFTER the kids have sunglasses on or we find they rub it into their eyes), a beach umbrella, goggles, hats, sunglasses (including back-up pairs) and a beach cart to get everything to the beach.
Have a variety of things to play with. For toys, we have the traditional pails, shovels and water guns but we also bring child size garden shovels. The shovels are GREAT for digging holes to bury the kids legs (and our kids love to be buried and turned into mermaids) as well as for making great sand castles and temporary homes for hermit crabs and other critters.
Once we are at the beach, we encourage the kids to relax, socialize with other kids and of course search for beach animals. We are fortunate that the beach we go to most weekends has jetties on both sides to create a natural area of containment and are also fortunate to see many of the same people each weekend. However, one week each summer we go to a beach where we don’t know anyone and have just as much fun. Happy beaching!
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- Need ideas for keeping the kids busy this summer? 100 (Almost) Free Things To Do with Kids in the Summer
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- Read more posts about summer from the Family Room bloggers