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little boy playing at the beach

4 Tips for Taking a Beach Vacation with Toddlers

from picking the right spot to sun protection

Sunshine, blue sky, warm sand between your toes and the calming sound of ocean waves hitting the shore—doesn’t it sound wonderful and relaxing? Add a toddler or preschooler to the picture and it may not sound quite as relaxing anymore, but a beach vacation with young children can still be wonderful with some patience and a little bit of planning. Below are four tips on how you can make the most out of a beach vacation with toddlers in tow.

Choose the right location for your family

When picking a spot to set up for a day at the beach, choose wisely. Make sure that the area is family friendly. It is also wise to make sure there are public restrooms available. Picnic areas, public showers, and restaurants nearby are also a bonus.

Bring the basics

When packing up for the beach make sure you have the essentials: a stocked diaper bag, lots of water, snacks, towels, extra swimsuits and sunscreen. If you are transporting little ones along with a lot of beach gear, determine what stroller or wagon would work best to drag across the sand. You can also use makeshift sand toys—such as cups, plastic containers, or inflatable items—that are easy to travel with.

Sun protection

Apply a high level of sunscreen to protect everyone from sunburn and reapply frequently. Use hats and protective swimsuits so that a sunburn doesn’t ruin the rest of your vacation. (Search your local stores or online for SPF protective clothing and gear.) Find a place with shade or set up umbrellas or tents to create a shady spot. This will make the day more pleasurable for everyone. Try putting an inexpensive baby pool in the shade to keep little ones out of direct sunlight.

Have a backup plan

Plan alternative things to do in the area in case weather doesn’t allow for a beach day. If you’re in the area for a longer amount of time, you might consider choosing to take one day out of the sun and sand. Many beach vacation destinations have other options for entertainment such as an aquarium, mini golf, shopping, go-carts or water parks for you to explore.

The type of vacation you take may change quite a bit after you become a parent, but it doesn’t have to stop you from traveling. Plan ahead, be flexible, and make the most of the time together. Whether your beach vacation is relaxing or not, it is sure to be memorable.


Sarah Lyons is a guest contributing writer and mother of six children, including 3-year-old triplets.

Image courtesy of iStock.